Let’s talk about shoes for a minute.
When I first bought my oldest moccasins – It was because they were cute. I didn’t really think about the benefits of the sole or why they might be important. As she got older I started learning more about feet and properly fitted shoes, so let me lay some of my knowledge down for you.
Did you know that an “athletic” sole on a toddler’s shoe is the equivalent of us wearing around a 2 inch platform? Seriously. Think about that! Listen, I used to wear heels when I was younger… Until, much to my husbands dismay, l I decided that my comfort and the damage of my legs/feet wasn’t worth the vanity.
The soles on athletic shoes for babies and toddlers are everything your child’s shoe SHOULDN’T be.
It drives me crazy! Babies and toddlers are still growing and forming their 26 bones, 33 joints, more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments in their foot… Did I mention there’s 200,000 neuro-transmitters in your kids feet? Yet prominent shoe companies continue to make “fashionable footwear” that cut off their all-important feeling – This dulls their sensory feedback to their brain from their feet and hinders their learning to walk.
The average shoe you find at your local store for your toddler weakens your kid’s feet and ankles as they grow, which leads to awkward and clumsy movement. Why? Because they're hard and un-flexible.
"But my child needs arch support!"
A baby’s foot is born flat and has no arch. Instead of a "rise" in the middle of their foot, babies have a cute little pad of fat. In time, the fat disappears, and the shape of your baby’s arch will be visible. But they’ll spend their first year or more with flat feet. Then their bones, etc will continue to form until their teens. So it’s down to a case of use it or lose it.... Don't be a "lost it case" - Allow their foot to grow, strengthen, and flex their natural muscles, tissues, and bones.
As a parent or loved one, I don’t doubt that you want their feet to be the best they can be - To grow strong, flexible and wide for steady and skillful movement as adults... With little to no aches, pains, or problems. “Arch support” actively stops feet moving in to their natural alignment - all those tiny bones, tendons and muscles cannot flex and gain strength. Babies don't even have bones in their feet until around 6 months of age -they're made up of fat and cartilage.
It’s just silly! Because it’s such an easy problem to avoid, as 90% of children’s feet are born flawless – Let’s keep em that way by staying away from standard big box store shoes that are behind the times. It’s an easy fix! Just stop buying those old or non-science based shoes…
Need some video to help cement this concept down? Check out a toddler gait analysis here.