I find it funny that babies would need tennis shoes, but if you see it as a general term for any type of shoe, I guess it works and having baby tennis shoes is a good thing. In a culture that is obsessed with protecting everything for anything, I want to dive into the topic of whether protecting baby’s feet from everything is absolutely necessary.
We want to treat everything with either kid gloves or like an adult and a baby’s foot is something completely different. If you take a few moments and look at your baby’s foot, you will see that it is different than your own in a couple of different respects:
- The arch on the foot is flat
- The ball or front of the foot is wider than the heal
If you compare this to your own foot, it isn’t hard to the differences, but that doesn’t mean you should try to make it like yours. There are reasons for the softness of the bottom of the foot; they have an extra layer of fat that begins to disappear at around 2 years old, especially as they are up and walking around almost constantly and their foot and leg muscles are beginning to mature.
I find it absolutely astonishing how many baby shoe companies produce shoes that do not take into account either one of these factors, maybe so that the shoes will look exactly like what we wear. This does such a huge disservice to our baby’s feet by applying restrictions and constrictions that could lead to foot problems later on in life. Please don’t do this to your baby! If your out shopping for baby tennis shoes, find ones that have a soft bottom, possibly made of leather or cotton with some sort of texture to help your baby not slip on solid surfaces.
There are many parents out there that would advise against wearing of any type of shoe before they are mobile and then only limited use when they are toddling around. This is so that the baby can feel and maneuver around and not have a buffer that could limit their adapting to something so new. However, there are other parents that would like to provide a little bit of protection, such as a sock or bootie, especially when a baby is crawling around, and the top of their foot becomes quite red and raw. For the most part, you have to make a decision for yourself, and it could be based on the needs of your baby, not necessarily your preconceived plans for him or her.
This is the interesting thing about babies, children and young adults: they don’t always fall into the norm of what you have read about, heard or thought through for them. And, each child is different from another, even if they have the exact same gene pool they are drawing from and have the same atmosphere that they are growing up in. Each baby is an individual, with individual personality traits, individual needs and individual quirks. There isn’t too much to worry about, just different ways that you are going to have to handle situations.
If you have concerns or believe that there are milestones that aren’t being met, this is where friends, family and definitely your pediatrician can help. I know that I received a lot of advice, both good and bad, to help raise my children. One thing that I learned over the years was that even with the best intentions, sometimes all of those people listed above can lead you down a wrong path. My mother-in-law was overly concerned when our oldest daughter didn’t get her first tooth until almost a year old. She kept letting me know that all of her kids had a tooth before they were 9-months old.
This kind of difference in milestone markers is no big deal, and I fretted over something that didn’t need a moment of worry behind it. Sometimes you have to do your own research and trust your gut on some of this stuff, even when it comes to healthcare professionals, because you know your baby the best and should be calling the shots on what happens with him or her.
I know that my mother-in-law was only doing this with best intentions, and she was comparing our children with her own (plus a little bit of memory fading) to come to her conclusions. Both our boys got their first tooth in at around a year old, which isn’t out of the realm of normal, but wasn’t what she had remembered, and this it was concerning.
Take these kind of concerns with a grain of salt and understand that you baby may not be the first in your group of mommies and babies to get their tooth in, roll over or walk, but that doesn’t mean you should be frantically searching every parenting and pediatrician site to see if there is something wrong. (Honestly, I was okay with not having their teeth come in earlier because that meant they weren’t biting down on me when breastfeeding! That was a new experience on its own when it did happen!)
Bringing this all back around to the baby tennis shoes, as a way to round out this very opinionated topic, I know that they aren’t the end-all-be-all of a baby experience and shouldn’t be at the top of your worry list. If you have your baby in socks for the first year of their life, you’re probably going to be just fine. If you feel like you’d want them in soft baby tennis shoes to help protect their feet, especially as they are learning to crawl and finally walk, just remember that they should have some time outside of them so as to discover and learn what it feel like to walk on bare feet.
Overall, be sure to drink in these moments, take lots of pictures, write down your experiences and those milestones, and go out on date nights with your husband, because you are going to be with him longer than your children – this relationship is so important and should not be left out in the cold!