Healthy Foot Development

Most parents have probably noticed their child constantly spreading, bending and stretching their fingers and toes from the first weeks of life. They wouldn’t think of keeping their baby from moving their hands and wiggling their fingers. Why then swaddle their feet and toes?

In the growing opinion of many orthopedists, the best thing for growing infant feet is not a pair of adorable running shoes, but rather, no shoes at all! The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the human body. It has 26 bones and is laced with ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Because the feet of young children are soft and pliable, abnormal pressure can easily cause deformities.

The Canadian Paediatric Society along with the Community Paediatrics Committee no longer accepts the old belief that a baby must wear shoes soon after birth. A child’s feet grow rapidly during the first year, reaching almost half their adult foot size. This is why foot specialists consider the first year to be the most important in the development of the feet. In fact there is increasing evidence to suggest that wearing shoes in early childhood may be detrimental to the development of a normal longitudinal arch.

Keeping a baby out of shoes is a good idea because it develops agility and strength in the feet. Dr. Simon J. Wikler, Doctor of Surgical Chiropody, suggests parents do not buy pre-walking shoes for their babies as they can seriously impede the natural movements of the infant’s foot. Additionally he states that, “during the first year of life, booties are the best type of footwear.” They should be large enough so they cannot, in any way, constrict the natural movement of the feet or toes. Dr. Carol Frey, Physician and Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic surgery agrees. “Babies and crawlers need only wear socks or booties to keep their feet warm”. When the child begins to wear socks, the same care must be taken in fitting them as with shoes. A sock is not made in the shape of the foot. For this reason, stretch socks can be particularly harmful as they can cause constant pressure on the toes.

Another body of research now suggests that children are more likely to have good posture if they go without shoes as they are able to gain more “sensory information” from their feet. Janet Perry M.P.T. and physical therapist adds that this will result in “better walking and postural skills”. Children who had the opportunity of going without shoes had less deformed toes, greater flexor strength, more ability to spread the toes, denser muscles on the bottom of the feet and greater agility than those who had not had the same chance.

This is why Crawlies is such an important choice for your child.

Crawlies Sleepers and Rompers have been created with booties sewn right into the garment. Not only will this keep the child’s feet warm, but it will help keep them healthy too! They encourage proper foot development because they are flexible, allow free movement of the feet, and are flat without any heel elevation. Made of the same material as the outfit, the booties are light in weight to reduce excess energy expenditure. But best of all, they don’t fall off the child’s foot. No more searching for lost shoes and socks! Non-slip material has been sewn securely onto the bottoms of the feet and up and over the top of the toes. This creates the traction necessary to help the child to crawl, pull to a standing position and take those first steps.

Crawlies are designed to promote optimal growth and development in the first year of life. Isn’t your child worth it?

References
1 Staheli L.T, Which Shoes are Best For Children? Maybe None. The New York Times, August 14th, 1991 page C1.
2 Canadian Paediatrics Society. Paediatrics and Child Health 1998; 3(5): 373, Reference No CP98-02.
3 Wikler,S.J, Take Off Your Shoes and Walk
4 Baby’s Feet