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When should babies wear shoes?
Melissa Clawson
Melissa, letting your baby go barefoot as much as possible is the best way to develop your baby's feet. When babies are barefoot, they can wiggle their toes, grip the floor, balance themselves, and push off with their feet muscles.

Some people buy shoes for newborn babies because they look cute, but they don't help the baby's foot development. In fact, shoes or pajamas with feet that are too tight can interfere with babies' foot development. If your infant needs his feet covered to stay warm, socks and cloth booties are fine.

Get your baby his first pair of shoes when he begins walking, usually around the first birthday. It's still good for him to go barefoot indoors, but shoes are good for outdoors to protect his feet from cuts and infections. Look for shoes that are almost like going barefoot—lightweight, soft, flexible material such as leather shoes or canvas sneakers. Get shoes with skid-proof soles to prevent slipping and falling. Make sure the shoes are wide enough for your child's foot to lie flat, and long enough for a little extra room to wiggle and grow, maybe one-half inch beyond the toes. It's normal for babies to have flat feet—most children naturally develop arches by 6 years of age, and you don't have to worry about buying shoes with special arch supports.

Your child's feet will grow rapidly, so keep an eye out for signs that his shoes are too tight, e.g., his toe comes to the top of the shoe, his toes have red marks or blisters, he fusses when you put on his shoes, or he fusses to take them off. You might need to buy a couple of pairs of shoes a year, but it's important to have the right shoes to help your child walk, run, and climb safely.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician