Dr. William Knudson is a premiere foot specialist in the North Virginia area, having helped numerous patients through Podiatric Care of Northern Virginia in Leesburg. Since many of his patients are families, Dr. William Knudson has personally seen the personal impact a new baby can have. Among his favorite patient questions is the simple request for advice on purchasing a pair of shoes for a family’s newest member.
For families with a newborn infant, one of the first questions we hear at Podiatric Care of Northern Virginia is “how young is too young?” for a new pair of shoes for a baby. Dr. William Knudson recognizes that newborn shoes are popular for the simple novelty of it, but until a baby begins walking, barefoot is best. For warmth, Dr. Knudson advises that parents can buy socks or even booties. But in those early months, as an infant learns to move their feet, wiggle their toes, and grip things with their feet. This aids in foot development, Dr. William Knudson points out.
In preparation for baby’s first steps, some parents will begin shoe-shopping. At this point, Dr. Knudson has a few recommendations. Soft soles are important, and shoes with built-in arch support are recommended at this stage. The shoe should provide flexibility in foot movement, according to Dr. William Knudson, as the infant will still be learning the basics of foot placement in those early days of walking.
As for sizing, Dr. Knudson gives the same advice for baby’s first pair of shoes that he gives to adults. There should be about a half an inch between the end of the toe and the very tip of the shoe. This gives just enough space to allow the foot proper room to breathe, while not constricting the baby’s foot movement.
Parents should regularly check the space in front of a child’s toe, since a baby’s foot can grow at a surprisingly rapid pace. A Ritz Stick, like the ones used in stores to measure shoe size, is inexpensive and can help parents keep up with all family members’ shoe sizes. This will let parents know when it’s time to take the family shoe shopping.
Don’t disregard the importance of traction. Dr. William Knudson emphasizes that to an infant newly learning to walk, slippery surfaces can be especially tricky to navigate. To minimize falls, Dr. Knudson tells patients to examine the bottom of shoes and determine if the type of material is ideal for the flooring in that child’s home.
As always, breathable material for the shoes’ uppers is ideal. It’s important for the child’s feet to be able to breathe, and cheaper materials can cause sweating, making a child’s first shoe-wearing experience an uncomfortable one.