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Baby Shoes - They're Not Just for Bronzing Anymore
Those of us of a certain age know exactly what our baby shoes looked like, because our adoring mother had a pair doused in bronze and, decades later, still proudly displays them on the mantelpiece. Back in those days, baby shoes were sturdily built and strictly utilitarian -- they had a job to do and made no bones about it. In this day and age, however, the kiddies are as stylish as their parents would like to be. There are few adult models, from cowboy boots to loafers and sandals, that haven't been adapted for little kids.
Experts recommend that you let your infants remain barefooted at least part-time for developmental reasons, and we all know that the little ones prefer to go barefoot -- but sometimes that's not an option. Little feet need protection, especially in that crucial learning-to-walk stage, so good baby shoes are a must. The trick is finding shoes that will keep those teensy toes safe, but won't get your baby laughed out of daycare.
Putting your best foot forward
Many modern brands of baby shoes, like Pip Squeakers and Preschoolians, take both style and utility into account. They're good-looking, fun to wear, and flexible. Flexibility is as important as sturdiness, especially when a child is learning to walk, since they have to learn how to use their feet naturally. For comfort, the shoe should be made of a breathable material, with a non-slip sole that offers excellent traction. They shouldn't need to be broken in, either -- there's no excuse for shoes that cause blisters and irritation when baby's trying to learn to walk. The shoes should fit a bit loosely, with about a half-inch between the shoe's end and your baby's toes; this will give her a little room to grow into.
Expect to have to buy new shoes every 3-6 month as your child grows. Kids are hard on shoes, especially when they're new to walking; so even if they don't grow out of their shoes, they may more or less destroy them just through daily use. Check them regularly for holes, torn tongues, and worn or cracked soles.
The Great Debate: Laces or Zips?
For those baby shoes that don't just slip on (such as baby's first cowboy boots), you'll have to decide on the type of closure you prefer: laces or Velcro. Both types have their good and bad points. Lace-up shoes are harder for your baby to take off, which is always an advantage, since babies do love to take off their shoes; however, you'll end up retying them a lot. Velcro closures are much easier for you, but they're easier for the baby too, and you'll find the baby running around in barefooted freedom more often than is safe. Most parents come down on the side of safety and stick with lace-up shoes. If you do, make sure the laces are long and easy for you to handle, since you'll be retying them. Child-sized laces may be dainty and cute, but only till you try to tie them with grown-up hands.