When will my Teeny Tiny find their feet?
Feet are one of the most sensory-rich parts of your Teeny Tinies body. The soles of their feet are extremely sensitive to touch, and there are large concentrations of proprioceptors – these send information to your babies brain about where they are in space– so let’s support the finding of them.
Finding of the feet will most often occur somewhere between 4&8 months.
Why do we want our Teeny Tinies to find their feet and how do I know they have been found?
At birth your baby doesn’t even know they have feet – crazy I know but their awareness of their body develops often from top to toe – so those little wriggly toes at the end can take some time to be discovered.
I will begin by lifting my legs in the air and then gazing at my wriggling toes, I may then reach out and hold onto my feet and even drawing them into my mouth. What a fabulous sensory experience.
What this movement may lead to is a movement I call Teddy Bear Rolls – when baby holds onto both feet with both hands and rocks from side to side. This will most often lead to that very first independent movement milestone of rolling. A movement pattern we want to encourage.
Note - not all babies will find their feet before they roll - it may occur the other way around and that is ok !
How to encourage ?
- Allow me to spend time as much time barefoot as possible.
- Encourage massage – this is a firm touch not a tickling time.
- Engage in a variety of sensory offerings – sheepskin, a silk scarf, a muslin, gently move a shaving brush, pastry brush or makeup brush along the soles of my feet.
- Play this little piggy went to market and touch your toes games.
OTHER FEET RELATED POINTS TO CONSIDER
The Plantar Reflex
If you place your Teeny Tiny on the floor and gently press the soles of their feet they will push away. Many babies can do this for minutes at a time, squiggling across the blanket. This builds muscle strength in the toes, feet and legs which will be used when beginning to crawl.
Babies temperature control – they focus all their warmth on their core so their extremities will naturally be cooler to touch. This may surprise you, keep the air temperature between 18-22 and I can remain barefoot. If you are covering their feet aim for natural fibres that are breathable.
Toddlers - Let your toddlers go barefoot as much as possible both indoors and outdoors this allows the feet to receive input from the both natural and man made surfaces. The resistance and inconsistency nature offers integrates reflexes in the foot and forms strong arches.
When toddlers walk barefoot they tend to look up because the information they receive through their feet orients them and makes them feel secure. Shoes block that intake of information, so toddlers wearing them tend to look down and are more apt to topple over.
“Toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot. The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down”.
When will I need to buy shoes and what to buy ?
I would wait until your Teeny Tiny is confidently walking and then look for these attributes.
· Strong ankle support at the back of the shoe
· Flexibility in the front of the shoe – be able to bend it in half
· Wide at the front of the shoe to allow toes to spread and move
· Avoid jandals
Those cute shoes on the shelves these days can be hard to resist. Try using them for photo ops, and then set your barefoot Teeny Tiny free to explore and learn about their surroundings, their body, and movement through their feet.
When was the last time you took off your shoes and walked barefoot in the dirt, the grass, sand or a puddle of water? Encourage yourself along with your Teeny Tiny to explore and play.
Natural Child Magazine Dr Kacie Flegal
Balanced and Barefoot - Angela Hanscom 2016
A Moving Child is a Learning Child 2014