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Are Shoes Bad For Baby's Foot Development?

Did your friends and family gift you with half-dozen pairs of adorable shoes during your baby shower? Few things are more sweet than baby shoes; there's just something about seeing sneakers or booties in miniature form that makes them extra-cute. But are they a real necessity for growing up, or are shoes bad for baby's foot development?

As with almost every parenting question, there are plenty of people in both the pro and con camp. But for the most part, it looks like experts are on team barefoot, especially when your baby is very young or just learning to walk. According to Baby Center, foregoing shoes allows your baby to help develop the strength and balance needed to start walking. And as further noted in Baby Center, there is no evidence that baby shoes will help your little one have stronger ankles, either. In fact, shoes may actually hamper the development of growing feet. As explained in Podiatry Today, going barefoot tends to promote the ideal form of foot development, and that closed toe shoes in particular may inhibit the development of the foot's arch. Even kids who are not yet at the walking stage may be deterred by shoes, as Mail & Guardian noted that infant shoes could potentially get in the way of your baby's ability to crawl. It looks like, for most babies, barefoot is best to ensure proper foot development.

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So when is footwear appropriate for your little one? Well, it can be helpful for warmth. As explained in Kids Health, some non-skid socks or booties are a good call if your baby is prone to cold toes, as they will hold in the warmth without altering foot development. Beyond that, it may be helpful to think of shoes as a necessary protection for feet when you're out and about. So if you and your little one are playing outside, then some age-appropriate shoes may help protect his tootsies from dirt or gravel. On the other hand, it's a good idea to let your baby run around barefoot in the home, as noted by the Women's and Children's Health Service, to help those muscles in the feet and toes develop well.