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 baby's brain about where they are in space.
You can expect your Teeny Tiny to find their feet, most often somewhere between four and eight months.
But 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. Those little wriggly toes at the end of their body can take some time to be discovered.
Your Teeny Tiny will begin by lifting their legs in the air and start gazing at their wriggling toes, they may then reach out and hold onto their feet and even draw them into their mouth. What a fabulous sensory experience. When any of these movements occur we would say your Teeny TIny has found their feet. They become the most favourite play item.
What this movement may lead to is a movement I call a Teddy Bear Roll, when baby holds onto each foot with their 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!
But it is winter and I don't want my Teeny Tiny to get cold feet.
A really common discussion point. My question to this comment is where do you lose 90% of your body heat from your feet, or your head?
Yes, you guessed it, it's your head. This is not to say your Teeny Tiny's little tootsies might feel cool to touch. Especially in the first 3 months as they begin to self-regulate their body temperature, yes they may feel cool. So go with the idea of heating the high-use area in your home and let those feet be free. When you transition between locations, sure cover those feet up with a breathable natural fabric. Try if you can to offer as much of their awake time to have bare feet this will encourage and facilitate movement milestones, sensory discoveries, awareness of my body and where it is in space.
How to encourage?
Allow me to spend time as much time barefoot as possible.
Encourage massage by using 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 breathable, natural fibres.
Toddlers - Let your toddlers go barefoot as much as possible both indoors and outdoors this allows the feet to receive input from 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”.
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, anything with a heel and crocs.
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