Friday, January 1, 2016

Feet Were Made for Walking

When Mikey was learning to walk I asked a friend what shoes she bought for her son who was a few months older than mine. She introduced me to pediped. At first I was horrified at the price. $35 for a pair of shoes for a 6 month old child? It seemed ridiculous. As my research continued, I learned about foot health and early childhood development. Young children collect information that shapes their brain development from their entire beings. They use all their senses - the five I knew about (sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch) and two more I had never heard of before (vestibular, or sense of balance, and proprioceptive, which is the sense of space and position). They also use their entire bodies from the tops of their heads to the bottoms of their feet. So it makes sense that the information a child gets from his or her little toes is important.

I started to compare the the pediped shoes to all the adorable baby shoes I could find. Pediped was certainly different from the rest. The bottom of the shoes are a thick leather that protects feet but is also soft enough and flexible enough that the child can feel the earth beneath them as they try to get their feet under them and take their first tentative steps. And they were just as cute as the designs from other not-so-healthy shoes.

Most children learn to walk right around their first birthday...right? Well, I have a couple stories to tell about young children walking and how changing their shoes changed their lives.

The first story was about one of Mikey's friends. She was a well-fed and well-rested baby. She was strong, had a lot of opportunity to roll around and play. I really liked hanging out with her mom and so we had fairly regular playdates at playgrounds, the library, and each other's homes. As Mikey and his friend were growing I noticed two things that were different about our children. First, his friend always had cute shoes on but that they were miniature versions of working boots. (Think lumberjack.) Second, Mikey was barefoot whenever possible but his friend wore her work boots even when she was indoors.

I merely observed the difference but I didn't bring it to the other mom's attention. Why would I? Instead, I watched our kids crawl all over the floors. Mikey's friend would army crawl all over the house, dragging her heavy feet behind her. I marveled at her strength! But one day my friend commented that she was wondering when her daughter would walk. I gently suggested that perhaps she could try letting her daughter go barefoot so she could feel the floor beneath her feet. After all, I had learned that soft-soled shoes were apparently really good for foot health... I am happy to report that I got a call later that week and all the strength of our army crawler translated right into walking and "running" as soon as she was barefoot!

My second story is about my own daughter. She had been walking for over a year when all of a sudden she started asking to be carried. She had all sorts of shoes - hand me downs from her brother, older friends but none of her own. So I bought her a pair of her own pedipeds. The day they arrived she put them on and walked everywhere with me, never asking to be lifted. I wonder - was it something developmental that she needed me to be close to her and carry her? Or was it that she needed new shoes?

You can learn more about foot health and about pediped on their website: They include all sorts of information from medical specialists including how important foot health is for healthy physical development. What they do not discuss, and what I'm sure you can imagine, is the trickle-down effect of healthy feet... The shoes you choose to put on your young child's feet offer another way of experiencing the world. Your child is getting information from the tips of her toes, learning her body and how she can navigate this big world. As she forges ahead as a crawler, toddler, and confident walker, your young child should not be restricted by anchors on her feet.

He will climb trees.
Climb Trees in pediped.

She will climb mountains.

Climb Mountains in pediped.

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