Every Parent knows that choosing the right footwear for their children is of the utmost importance. In fact, “proper shoes” are one of the most thrown about phrases once a baby has taken those first magical steps. But why? What makes a certain shoe the correct choice? To truly understand the need for quality shoes we need to consider the changes a foot goes through from birth to adulthood and the role it plays in the individual’s development.
At birth that precious baby foot is not a miniature version of an adult foot. In fact, it contains no bones at all and consists of a mass of cartilage, which, over a period of years, ossifies to become the 28 bones that exist in the adult human foot and is laced with delicate ligaments, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Since this cartilage is soft and pliable, abnormal pressure can easily cause deformities and this is one of the main reasons why the correct type of shoe is vital.
A child’s feet grow rapidly during the first year, reaching almost half of their adult foot size making it a period that podiatrists consider to be the most important in the development of the feet. During this time as much barefoot time as possible is paramount for all children not only for the benefit of developing bones but also to aid proprioception which is the next major consideration in early walker shoes.
We all know about the five senses: vision (sight), audition (sound), olfaction (smell), taction (touch), and gustation (taste). These senses are responsible for our interaction with the external world. But we also have several senses that are responsible for our internal functioning that are less commonly spoken about. One of the most important internal senses is called proprioception, or position sense and it refers to the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. This ability enables us to know where our limbs are in space without having to look. It is a sense that is so fundamental to our functioning that we take its existence for granted.
Feet are one of the most sensory-rich parts of the human body. The soles of the feet are extremely sensitive to touch, and there are large concentrations of proprioceptors in the joints and muscles of the feet. This is why one of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive development is to let our babies be barefoot as much as possible!
Some specialists liken this barefoot time to allowing toddlers to be guided by “The eyes in their feet”. So when they have to wear heavy shoes that sense of touch is cut off and it is like the feet are blindfolded. Unfortunately going barefoot all the time isn’t always possible, but if a child must have their feet covered then isn’t it much better to do so with a product that ensures these “eyes” are still able to see? This is what “proper shoes” should aim to do.
Most children will start walking between 10 and 18 months, although it is important to remember that every child is an individual so this will vary greatly from child to child. It’s a natural reaction to want to protect your child’s feet when they are beginning to walk and, as already mentioned, barefoot isn’t always possible. Paediatricians and podiatrists agree that, for those times when young children must wear shoes, they should allow for natural movement and development of the feet. Any shoe you select at this stage should be as close as possible to walking barefoot while still allowing for protection from the external environment (such as cold hard floors, sharp outdoor surfaces, dirt, etc.)
So with these professional recommendations in mind, when shopping for baby and toddler shoes you’re looking for shoes that should:
1. Be Flexible: First walker shoes need to be as soft and flexible as possible. Bend the shoe in your hand, checking it for flexibility. Ideally, you should be able to fold the shoe in half.
2. Be Breathable: Using shoes that do not allow feet to breathe can cause bacterial problems with your child’s feet at an early age.
3. Not be high-top (ankle) shoes/boots or heels: these can restrict the movement of a baby’s ankles which could lead to developmental problems. And heels can drastically effect the development of your child’s feet.
4. Have plenty of toe room: Toe room is not only important in making sure that baby’s feet have room to grow, but also baby also needs to be able to wiggle his/her toes freely to aid proprioception.
5. Have no arch support: Children under the age of three should not have arch support built into their shoes (unless directed otherwise by a professional). The arches, bones, and ligaments of the feet are still developing during these years, and the feet need to grow and develop naturally without being artificially supported. It is only as the child progresses from three years of age upwards arch support becomes more important.
Following seven years of rigorous research and testing, not only does Attipas comply with these five essential recommendations in early walker shoes, but they also have the advantage of being easy to clean (which most parents will agree is a massive benefit!)
Furthermore, Attipas baby shoes are free from any hazardous materials and have passed all safety tests.
And lastly, we know that parents everywhere strive to provide the best for their children and often this leads to unneccessarily overpaying for products to feel that they are doing so. At Attipas we want to make sure that the correct footwear is achievable for every family which is why we strive to make our shoes as affordable as possible.
That’s right! Our ergonomically supportive, gorgeously designed, non-slip first walker shoes were chosen to be part of the exclusive goodies bag! Already scooped up and snapped by some notable celebrities, we can’t wait to see who else wears what in the coming months as Attipas continue to grow in popularity across the globe!