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Shoes

Buying the baby’s first pair of shoes used to be an important ceremonial event. The whole family went to the store, and an expert salesman in a white coat offered wise counsel about fitting the perfect shoes. A pair with good ankle support came off the shelf, and Jimmy left the store looking even more adorable than when he came in, attempting to move his legs in his stiff new hightops.

Times have changed. These days, we know that when shoes are too rigid they interfere with a child’s natural walk. At an early age, footwear need only protect the feet from sharp objects, cold, and heat. But barefoot is best; it increases contact with the ground and therefore improves balance. Consequently, the ideal shoes are soft enough not to interfere with that sensation.

Because Jimmy’s tendons are flexible, don’t be surprised to see his ankles droop in either direction when he starts walking. This will correct itself when the ankle muscles build up. Stiff shoes with superb ankle supports not only don’t help, they also delay the strengthening of his muscles.