“If we start our kids out by wearing minimalistic shoes, there will be no adaptation that’s needed as adults and I believe that this could be one piece of the holy grail in reducing musculoskeletal injuries in adults.”
DR IRENE DAVIS, PROFESSOR AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

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What to look for in an infant shoe:

  • Thin, flexible sole for movement and sensitivity.
  • Wide toe box so all toes can move and spread.
  • Flat toe box for ‘neutral’ toes.
  • Flat (zero drop) heel to allow optimal posture.

Tips for Shoe Shopping with Infants

Shopping at the Shops

  • Go prepared.
  • Make a cardboard template.

    Draw and cut around your infant’s feet with their toes spread, ideally standing so you get the widest spread of their foot and longest toe length.

    It would be best to do this after physical activity or the end of the day as kids’ feet do change.

    This is a quick way to check which shoes match their foot size by inserting the template into the shoe.

    It will narrow down the number of shoes to try on, saving time and energy. Of course many child-specific retailers offer a measuring service which achieves the same thing.

  • Allow time for your infant to walk, run and jump in them before you buy. A shoe should feel comfortable from the start. They shouldn’t need ‘wearing in’, beside which your infant will outgrow them before that may happen!

If shopping online

The cardboard template you made of your child’s foot will help as you can easily measure length and width. Check that the size guide online reflects the size of the actual foot (not the sole of the shoe). Check their returns policy. 

Re-use, recycle

Given that infants feet will normally out-grow a pair of shoes before they wear out, second-hand and hand-me-down minimal shoes should pose no problem as long as you check the size and fit properly. And given that most minimal shoes can be more expensive than ‘normal’ shoes, why not!

The older child (and yourself)

As your child grows the options for minimal shoes continue with the Vivobarefoot kids range in the United Kingdom, Wildling Shoes from Europe, and Xero Shoes in the United States. Most companies ship worldwide or have local stockists. It would be great if all shoe manufac- turers came on board providing healthier options … one day. 

It just makes so much sense to buy a shoe that fits our foot right at every age, rather than forcing our foot into a shoe.

Recommended minimal / barefoot shoe providers

These are the shoe companies highlighted in ‘Finding Their Feet’. There are other great minimal shoe companies making infant shoes – hunt them out keeping the checklist at the top of the page in and the book in mind.

Happy Little Soles

Recommended Books

  • Ollie The Octopus and His Magnificent Brain by Dr Robert Melillo and Dr Genevieve Dharamaraj (2021)

  • Movements that Heal: Rhythmic Movement Training and Primitive Reflex Integration by Blomberg, Harold, and Moira Dempsey. 2011.
  • Beyond the Sea Squirt: A Journey with Reflexes. By Dempsey, Moira. 2019.
  • Raising Happy Healthy Children. Why Mothering Matters. By Goddard Blythe, Sally, 2017.
  • The Well Balanced Child: Movement and Early Learning. By Goddard Blythe, Sally. 2005.
  • Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. By Hanscom, Angela J. Oakland, 2016.
  • Retained Neonatal Reflexes – A Patients Companion by Dr Susan Walker 2013
  • The Symphony of Reflexes by Bonnie L Brandes 2015
  • Healthy Posture for Babies and Children by Kathleen Porter 2017
  • The Foot Book by Dr Seuss
  • Grow Wild by Katy Bowman
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
  • Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage. By Leboyer, Frederick. 1976.
  • Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents. 4th ed. By McClure, Vimala. 2017.

Healthcare professionals

For you and your baby – Primitive Reflexes

Passive movements to help with development

Passive movements from birth can help with the development of your baby’s brain and neural network.

They are another way for you to get to know your baby, their body and movements. As they get older songs and games, naming body parts can help improve language, coordination and their self awareness.

Oliiki is an app for you as parents and parents-to-be to spark your baby’s adventures in learning and build your parenting confidence one play activity at a time. The first 1000 days (conception to two) have proven to be a critical period to set children up for success for life. Oliiki has over 1000 activities based on the latest early childhood learning research and evidence. It is scientifically proven to boost your confidence as a parent. Check it out today by clicking on the Oliiki image above.

The birthing process is complex and injuries sometimes happen. The Birth Injury Center is dedicated to helping families affected by birth injuries by offering educational resources and helping families find the best care, financial help, and legal assistance that they they may be looking for.