Baby’s first Nike’s may be absolutely adorable, but are they necessary? According to most experts – and not just modern ones but for at least the last thirty years – babies don’t need shoes till they’re up and walking around. Even at that point, it’s good for the little tikes to get in lots of barefoot time so they get used to their balance and how their little toesies work.
Still, by the time they’re spending more time on their feet than on their knees, it’s time to get them into a pair of shoes, if for no other reason than to protect those feet from stubbed toes and other injuries. So, what sort of shoes should you wrap those precious feet in?
Certainly NOT the old-fashioned hard-soled leather lace-up shoes that were meant to ‘train’ baby feet to grow properly. Pediatricians recommend soft shoes that move with baby’s feet. The soles should be non-skid to prevent falls, but flexible enough that they bend as baby steps out on his own. Skip the high-tops, unless they’re flexible enough to bend with baby’s ankles and feet. Choose natural materials that breathe to keep feet from sweating and becoming uncomfortable.
The proper fit for baby’s first shoes is also important. They shouldn’t bind or chafe anywhere, so shop when you’ve got plenty of time to let the little one walk around the store wearing the shoes you’re thinking of buying. Slip a pinkie in at the heel while baby is standing – there should be enough room between the shoe and the munchkin’s heel to allow your pinkie or a pencil to slip in easily. Also tie and untie the shoes a couple of times – if you choose lace-up shoes – to make sure that the laces are long enough to tie easily. Laces aren’t a necessity, though. The experts are about evenly divided on whether tie shoes or Velcro are better, with no clear-cut ‘best’. Choose whichever you like best. Laced shoes are a lot more likely to be left on – but Velcro encourages independence because it’s so much easier to master.
Besides picking a time for your shopping trip when you have time to let your baby walk around a bit, time your visit to the shoe store for after a nap, when the little one is well-rested. Keep in mind, too, that baby’s feet swell a little in the late afternoon, just like yours do. Shop later in the day to make sure that you get shoes that will fit at all times of the day.
As your baby grows and gets more active, check the fit of his shoes at least once a month. You can plan on buying new shoes about every three-to-six months just due to average growth, but also be prepared to replace shoes if they’re worn, the soles are cracked or they have holes in them.
And if you have your heart set on Baby’s First Nikes? Shop around – you’re sure to find them.