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to not know whether barefoot or structured shoes are best for young children?

(27 Posts)
PickledLily Sun 04-Jan-15 21:37:24

The whole barefoot thing makes sense to me but then I got admonished by a 'traditional' shoe fitter for considering an unstructured shoe for our toddler. Doesn't a structured shoe, rather than 'support the foot', just mould the foot to the shoe and restrict foot movement? Or have I believed the hype confused

We have a history of wonky feet/knees/hips etc in our family, so I'm keen we don't make things worse.

Is barefoot just a fad? Any podiatrists out there that settle the debate?

fredfredgeorgejnr Sun 04-Jan-15 21:47:22

I wouldn't necessarily trust a podiatrist, they over recommend shoes despite not believing they're better -
"High topped shoes are not necessary to promote normal foot development, in the opinion of 85% of those surveyed; however, high topped shoes were often recommended for infants because they slip off less easily"

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7355007

I've looked for any evidence against barefoot, and I really cannot find it in any published material.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Sun 04-Jan-15 21:50:01

Could you go for a structured shoe and then only put them on for outdoor wear? I always remove my shoes whenever im indoors (aside from public places!), and toddler dd is the same.

fredfredgeorgejnr Sun 04-Jan-15 21:58:21

As well as looking at the published research, I also watched all the other kids in the playground, the ones that walked well were in barefoot shoes, the ones that walked badly were in structured... That was extremely convincing to me, it's amazing too how much weight of shoe impacts DD's speed and endurance too, the lightest weight shoes are much better - which is annoying now it's winter and they're too cold.

PartyConfused Sun 04-Jan-15 22:01:52

I was always told (i think from places like here) that bare foot is best. And for my eldest I did just that.
My youngest had had a few issues (a bit hypermobile, late to walk) and her physio said shoes are best. And structured ones at that. I questioned this and i felt it threw her a bit, but her eventual answer was that it is different in each case.

Not very helpful!

slippermaiden Sun 04-Jan-15 22:08:22

My little girl has slightly flat arches. If she puts on a shallow Mary Jane shoe for a slightly older girl her feet really roll in. But if she wears a patent leather, stiffened start rite Mary Jane shoe her walking style is perfect. The right shoe is more important than a certain style of shoe. Try different shops until you find one that suits your child and you.

DistractedAgain Sun 04-Jan-15 22:08:36

Have a read of Katy Bowman's blog on Alignment Matters, it may help your decision.

NewYearsHangoversHurtAlot Sun 04-Jan-15 22:15:43

As someone with very flat feet that over pronate and having a dc the same and currently running the podiatry gammet again... Closed, well fitted shoes with good arch support are recommended to prevent knee, hip and back pain

It works.

If I walk in ballet pumps for any distance I'm in agony, if I wear my work boots, happy feet

steppeupunderthemisletoe Sun 04-Jan-15 22:22:25

newyear - but ballet pumps are very different to barefoot. You walk differently in them.

personally we always did barefoot at home all the time, proper shoes (startrite etc) when out

Pippidoeswhatshewants Sun 04-Jan-15 22:25:54

Shoes should ideally only protect your feet from cold or injury, the human foot is designed to be used without a shoe.

I have always bought the lightest shoes with the most flexible soles (mostly Superfit), and dcs never wear shoes indoors.

NewYears, ballet pumps are rubbish for your feet because you have to clench your toes to keep them on!

knackered69 Sun 04-Jan-15 22:32:15

We always had barefoot indoors and startrite when out.

PickledLily Sun 04-Jan-15 22:37:57

She's always been in start-rite (outdoors only and nursery) but we recently tried some Bobux. She definitely ran differently in them, legs wider apart. However most of the Bobux were too high on the ankle bone.

Tricky to know if they are better, without knowing what a correct gait is. I'll take a look at your link DistractedAgain, thanks.

NewYear - you've described my feet to a tee. I need arch support too. Ballet pumps are the work of the devil, can't understand how anyone can walk in them.

fredfredgeorgejnr Sun 04-Jan-15 22:38:16

NewYearsHangoversHurtAlot all babies have flat feet, the arch is a development, not a natural thing that needs correcting. Also the best correction for flat feet is of course walking barefoot to ensure that the full muscles develop...

NewYearsHangoversHurtAlot Sun 04-Jan-15 22:44:50

Well considering myself and my dc spent our early walking years barefoot and still have no arches from our perspective barefoot walking made not the blindest bit of difference

UngratefulMoo Sun 04-Jan-15 22:45:27

Ex-children's shoe fitter here, so only moderately qualified, but (you may well know) bare foot (or in well-fitting socks) is important for as long as possible because babies are born with no bones in their feet - only cartiledge which needs flexibility to develop naturally.

You don't mention how old your toddler is, but once they are confidently walking outside / running around it is good to have something a bit more structured. Fit is most important - if too small, obviously the foot can't grow as it should, but if too big or not supportive in the right places then the foot can slip forwards and squash the toes or over-compensate for lack of support - someone mentioned ballet pumps above - a perfect example, as your foot has to clench every time you take a step - and in young feet this can cause problems.

Some unstructured shoes for young toddlers are not designed for a lot of walking and may cause some of these issues, but likewise, some very structured shoes can be too heavy or rigid and cause over-compensation in another way.

Definitely worth going back to the shop and getting more advice specific to your little one's particular needs.

Waltonswatcher Sun 04-Jan-15 22:47:50

My rule is barefoot whenever possible . We have leather bobux slippers for most other uses and a pair of startrite for outside play . For visiting friends ,groups,shopping type things I use the slippers . These allow freedom of movement and are the equivalent of barefoot .
Don't race to put them in shoes . I get the rage when I see tiny feet in a hard sole . You see it all the time -parents rushing to buy the first pair.

PickledLily Sun 04-Jan-15 22:52:49

Thanks everyone. DD is nearly 3.

I just look at some of the soles of children's shoes and think it must be like walking with planks on the bottom of their feet.

Ironically the shop where I got the Bobux initially put DD in a pair with very stiff soles. We only tried the Bobux because of the low ankle bone issue.

PickledLily Sun 04-Jan-15 22:54:42

I should add that DD also has curly toes and they are starting to look slightly hammer-toed, although Dr says no action required.

ArchangelGallic Sun 04-Jan-15 22:55:42

DD is almost 4 and we've always had barefoot shoes from Livie and Luca.
She runs and walks well and balance is fine.
I guess it's one of those things where only time will tell

Hotbot Sun 04-Jan-15 23:33:43

Hmmm my mum is a podiatrist and advises barefoot for kids , when obv. Safe to do so

RandomHouseRules Sun 04-Jan-15 23:37:38

Barefoot advocates: what do you do re Wellies? My children are barefoot quite a lot and I am strict on well fitting shoes. BUT at this time of year they insist (sensibly) on wellies pretty much all the time. Any recommends?

I love Vivo Barefoot shoes although have yet to buy for the children (cost - given fast growth of feet)

PickledLily Mon 05-Jan-15 08:44:47

Livie and Luca shoes are gorgeous, but like most barefoot shoes we tried on, they are too big for DD. Are there any brands we should try that are better for shallower feet?

vixo Mon 05-Jan-15 09:02:25

I use the website Happy Little Soles for all my children's 'barefoot' shoes. The woman who runs it knows her stock so if you call, or email a question, she'll get back to you quickly with a sensible answer. They have shoes for all sizes from a number of brands. Good luck!

fredfredgeorgejnr Mon 05-Jan-15 10:53:58

RandomHouseRules Just use wellies (that gets autocorrected to willies here!), but only use them when actually jumping in puddles, if it's just out in the rain just use regular shoes.

ebay is good for shoes, you just get a load of larger sizes cheaper and then chuck them in, fit with minimal shoes is much less important because they're not moulding the foot into unnatural shapes, it's just avoiding too small and too large.

The pediped shoes are good in all their small sizes (less good once they get to larger sizes as they lose flexibility for some reason)

Notnaice Mon 05-Jan-15 11:00:53

Soft cruising shoes for outside, until they have been walking confidently for at least 6 weeks, then you can use a more structured shoe if the terrain demands it. I'd do barefoot for as long as possible indoors.

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