Fit, form and function of shoes hasn’t changed too much over thousands of years. Yet, when the shoes don’t fit, it can feel like the end of the world. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this either, and it probably goes doubly so when it comes to your toddler’s feet. Having a great pair of natural toddler shoes can help you succeed in fulfilling this aspect of your toddler’s life.
Having a natural fit for a baby and toddler who are wearing shoes is very different than those of an adult. The foot of a young child is structured and looks very distinctive from that of an older child or adult. This is along the same that babies are born with coneheads: the bones aren’t fully formed, which allows for quick growth and whatever is necessary for those stages of development.
I know you’re not here for all the technical properties of babies and toddlers. There is just an amazing amount of life that is linked with our feet, and it starts off when we are babies.
One of the developmental steps a baby takes is the discovery of their own feet. This is manifest when they begin to grab for their feet and then use them as chew toys. Part of the reason they grab and use their feet and toes as instruments of progress is because they are always there and available. It isn’t much more complex than that.
They are growing in the understanding of how their body works, what each part feels like as they work together and they are living a lot of their life through their mouth, just like puppies live with their nose to the ground as they are discovering their world around them.
Even as an adult, when you stub your toe or step on a Lego, everything else seems to stop as you try to relieve the pain. Think of the sensitivity that a baby or toddler must also have when it comes to sensations in their tiny little feet – they are soft, the bones are more like cartilage, the space between bones is significant, the nerves are extremely sensitive, and their balance is only beginning to be set.
It is so important that a toddler has bare feet time so that they can sense what is going on underneath. They have to feel the uneven surfaces, the warm and cold, the pain and the success of making it across the room. Don’t deprive them of these sensations by keeping them in booties or shoes all the time.
Have you ever found yourself tapping to the beat of the music playing? Have you found your leg bouncing when you are nervous? Maybe your curl and uncurl your toes as a reaction to something? Whatever the case maybe, it is a deep part of our normal behavior and a love that we find with rhythm. Teaching this feeling to your baby or toddler is absolutely appropriate, and I know of some moms that will put speakers up to their baby’s feet so that they can feel the vibration and buzzing that comes out with even a small amount of sound being pumped through the system.
Music, in general, is an amazing tool that brings harmony to our lives, so if you can do things like sing to your children, or have music around the house, you will see awareness come into their eyes as they perceive the notes, learn the words and connect with you.
Spending time giving your baby or toddler a massage, especially on their feet, has many beneficial characteristics and promotes health and bonding:
Many moms and dads will use the time right after a bath or right before bed to give their baby or toddler a massage because these kinds of routines serve to for a pattern of behavior and aid in calming everyone down – yes, that means you, too!
Even before a toddler who is not totally stable or steady on his or her feet is running around, you can take the time to hold their hands walk them around the house or the yard or park. Taking this kind of time out of the day to make sure they are learning, and also upholding your connection with the child is more important than you might realize initially.
Don’t rule out putting them in the stroller and going around the block or down the street for your own walk with them. Children learn by example, and you are the ones that are around them the most, so they will mimic what you do. If you are outside and make a point of doing things like walks, or if you are more adventurous, hikes, will help get them out of the house later on and then help them to want to venture out on their own.
We all live a lot of our lives through our feet, and we should be promoting the health and even the protection of our toddler’s feet. If you are doing a lot of outdoor activities with your child, make sure that their feet are protected. I have always made sure that they have something like natural toddler shoes with soft-soles on them to ensure that they can keep up with the rest of us and I don’t have to bandage their feet up all the time.