Tips for healthy foot development

Wondering how to trim your baby’s toenails, or when they should start wearing shoes? Rachel Clinkard, from kids’ shoe fitter and retailer Charles Clinkard, shares her tips on caring for tiny feet.

If you’ve just welcomed a new arrival into the family, you’re probably already completely obsessed with your baby’s adorable tiny feet and toes. But apart from plenty of kissing and tickling, is there anything else you can do to help encourage healthy development as they grow? While nature will take care of most of the work, there are ways to make sure your baby’s feet get the best start in life. Here, I’ll share top tips for caring for little feet.

Trimming their tiny toenails 

Even in the newborn stage, your baby’s toenails can grow surprisingly fast. And, as babies will naturally touch and play with their feet, you’ll need to trim them every week or two to make sure they don’t scratch themselves or catch on anything.

The best time to cut your baby’s toenails is after bath time, as their nails will be softer, and they will be relaxed and sleepy. Using a baby nail file or a pair of baby scissors, hold their foot in one hand, and gently cut or file the nail with the other. Be careful to cut straight across to reduce the chances of ingrown nails, and don’t cut them too short, as this can be uncomfortable for your little one. If they wriggle or kick quite a lot, placing them in a rocker or asking someone to hold them will help make things a bit easier for you.

Many new parents often feel a little nervous about trimming their baby’s toenails, and while it might seem quite intimidating at first, it’s really nothing to stress about. You’ll soon get the hang of it!

Washing and caring for baby’s feet

One thing you’ll notice as your little one starts to grow is that they love playing with their feet, and even putting them in their mouth. All this is perfectly normal and healthy — it means your little one’s co-ordination skills and leg muscles are developing as they should be. But, it does mean that you need to take extra care to make sure their feet are clean, to make sure they’re not accidentally ingesting any germs or dirt during playtime.

To keep your little one’s feet clean, you’ll want to wash them gently every day with some warm water and baby soap. It’s also a good idea to check their feet during each nappy change, and give them a quick clean with a baby wipe if needed. When putting some booties or socks on your little one, make absolutely sure that there are no loose bits of fluff or strands of hair on their feet, as these can get wrapped around their toes and become quite uncomfortable for them.

Let them go barefoot at first

During the early stages, you’ll want to let your baby spend plenty of time barefoot. The arch and bones of the foot are still very malleable at this stage, so it’s best not to put your baby in any rigid shoes that could confine their growing feet until they’re up and walking. This allows the foot to develop naturally, and it also gives them plenty of chances to flex and play with their feet, which is very important for their development. Going barefoot will also help when they start to learn to walk, as it makes it easier for your baby to grip the floor with their toes, and helps them to strengthen the muscles in the foot and leg.

That doesn’t mean you need to avoid those precious little baby shoes completely, of course — you can still dress them up for special occasions or photo opportunities. But, it’s best for baby to go barefoot the majority of the time. If you’re worried they’ll get cold feet on chilly days, they can always wear some snuggly socks or booties to keep their toes toasty.

Get their first shoes fitted professionally

While it might seem a long way off during the newborn stage, your baby will be up toddling about before you know it. Once your baby can walk unaided, it’s time to get them their first pair of walking shoes. Ensuring the right size and style can be quite fiddly and there’s a lot to consider, so I would recommend going to a shop that specialises in fitting shoes for young children. They will be able to advise you on the shoes for your little one’s feet.

You’ll probably want to hold onto their first shoes as a momento — it’s lovely to look back at just how tiny they once were when they’re all grown up! So, be sure to take the time to pick a cute pair that you can keep in a memory box once they’ve outgrown them.

Follow the tips I’ve shared here, and your baby’s feet should grow strong and healthy enough to carry them through life.