A common question on online forums and in the clinic is when does a child "need" shoes?
Please note that the following relates to healthy infants and children who do not have a disease that affects their foot movements, foot structure or stability when standing.

If a baby is not walking yet, they do not need shoes. But does a baby who walks need them?

Until the last centuries, humans evolved without shoes (at least not at such an early age), so it appears our feet developed to be able to walk barefoot.

The shoe provides warmth, protection and esthetics. It seemingly has no significance for a baby who is just starting to walk and is mostly in a warm and protected home environment.

Soft shoes designed for early walkers are a cute (and sometimes expensive) accessory, but there is no evidence to suggest they are necessary. Big, heavy or tough shoes make it difficult for babies to feel the ground, to lift their feet when taking a step and to strengthen shin and foot muscles to stabilize themselves.

There is very little scientific research on this topic but we can assume it is good practice to allow the child to learn how to walk without shoes. That is what we recommend and we continue to recommend that children walk barefoot wherever it is safe to do so.