A newborn baby’s feet are often one of the most adorable things about him! They are plump and soft and well coloured. His little toes will wiggle as he stretches and twists and turns his feet.
This freedom of moving his feet and toes is healthy for him, so why do we feel the need to squash them into tight-fitting socks, fashion pre-walking shoes or swaddle them in a restrictive blanket? Because that is the way our grandmothers did things, but sorry Grandma, on this one you were way off beat!
Babies’ feet need this free movement because without it, their feet will probably never have a chance to develop normally. Keeping their feet tightly wrapped in a blanket, for example, will only serve to weaken them.
And in an average lifetime of 65 years, we know that our feet will carry us more than 160 000km! So we need to prepare our young one’s chubby little feet for the awesome journey ahead of him.
A pad of fat
Most babies are born with a pad of fat in the arched area of their feet. This gives his feet the appearance of being flat mainly because his foot and leg muscles haven’t developed yet to support the arches of his feet. A healthy child’s foot arches will only really start to show at around the age of about two-and-a-half years.
To help him get walking on a healthy set of feet, start by ditching the pre-walking shoes! Your baby derives no pleasure from them, actually he just gets frustrated from not being able to wiggle his feet freely. You may think the fancy little shoes look cute with his outfit, but babies aren’t meant to be part of a fashion parade.
Loose baby booties are less restrictive
Baby booties are a safe bet for your little one, but ensure they are large enough not to be restrictive.
Once your toddler is starting to try to walk the best thing to do for him is let him start his journey of steps barefoot as much as possible. This will promote foot health by developing agility and strength in his feet.
Common foot problems your baby may experience at birth:
- Sometimes a child is born with an 11th or even a 12th toe. Surgery of the extra toes is necessary to aid his walking and his wearing of shoes later on in life
- A clubfoot is a common disorder that can, and often does, affect both feet. It is characterised by smaller feet with the toes pointing towards one another and downwards
- Metatarsus adductus is another common birth defect with the baby’s foot whereby the big toe points inwards to face the other foot
- A fairly common condition with new babies is that of webbed toes. This is when the skin between the toes does not naturally separate itself from adjoining toes properly. The webbing can happen in varying degrees.
But these are all correctable conditions, especially if you are aware of the signs. Otherwise, just keep those precious feet free and easy and let those chubby little toes wiggle their way to a healthy walking start!