Footwear For Babies – Barefoot is Best

Babies do not need footwear. Anything that you put on a baby’s feet will constrict and damage it. Don’t be persuaded to buy ‘pram shoes’ they should be hanging from the rearview mirror of your car!

As children develop they are all action and this is part of the normal growth pattern so it is essential that they are allowed freedom of movement at every opportunity.

There can also be damage from clothing that we put our babies in. Romper suits (called a Babygro when my children were small) are often too small or tight and restrict the very important kickiing activity the all growing babies need. In South Africa there is a trend to cover babies when in the pram or stroller. DON”T. Any covering that reduces the normal developmental reflex movements will cause harm. Those beautiful knitted bootees from Aunty Tshidi – watch them – they must allow the wriggling, growing toes to keep doing just that.

If you look at ‘pram shoes’ you will see very little of their shape matches the baby foot, especially at the toes wher usually they are too narrow. It could be the equivalent of you or I wearing a shoe one size too small. Even the fastening around the ankle, although it may look OK has the potential to press into baby’s foot.

During the first 6 months total freedom should be the aim. This allows the unhindered development of the neuromuscular responses. Just take a moment to look at the feet of the newborn and infants before they start walking. What you will see is a range of curling, wriggling, turning in and out, twitching and so forth which need to bee allowed without being enclosed in footwear of any sort.

Barefoot is best. Loose covering obviously to keep warm. Yes keep the sun off, but don’t constrict the feet. Throw away the ‘pram shoes’n the only footwear you need for babies is bare skin.


Andrew has taught at the University as well as providing podiatry services in South Africa since 1977. Twice chair of the Podiatry Association of South Africa and a commentator on care of your feet on both radio and television he now works in private practice in Cape Town and Hout Bay.

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Tonia Psarianos - October 27, 2008 Reply

Mr Clarke, thanks for the interesting information.

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