|Lorraine and Gary, late 1950's NZ|
Barefoot until teenagers.
Note the great fashions of the day!
|My first three children, Myra, Mary-Ann and Kelvin|
at an athletic meet with running legend, Rod Dixon.
Take close note of their strong, functional feet.
A newborn's bones are pliable cartilage that gradually calcifies into hard bone. They are easily deformed with even the slightest of finger pressure. If this pressure is more or less constant, the
bones of the feet will calcify and set permanently in the deformed position. The Japanese once considered tiny feet to be a thing of great beauty and took advantage of the early few years of a female's life to bind her feet, causing the feet to be extremely small and deformed.
|Example of Japanese foot binding.|
Thankfully, no longer practised.
|The modern foot using modern "binding" methods|
in the form of women's fashion shoes.
|Genetics or environment? Mother and son - Guess|
who had the stretch and grows and tight stockings
and who had the bare feet as a baby?
The modern "Stretch and Grow" clothing, stockings and even the weight of blankets can be sufficient to deform a growing baby's feet.
I have been reminded of the importance of foot care for a baby with the birth of my first grandchild, Braxton, to my daughter, Mary-Ann. He has unusually long toes! I immediately wondered how long this would be the case if he continued to wear the stretch and grows he was wearing. Not long, on close inspection. So, with the permission of his mother, Braxton agreed to model the solution - cutting off the feet of his stretch and grow.
|My daughter, Mary-Ann, with her newborn son, Braxton, |
nicely kitted out in his stretch and grow.
|Notice how the stretch and grow is deforming Braxton's toes.|
|My gosh - he has such long toes!|
|Free at last! Look at how far up the leg the stretch and grow has|
retracted now the feet have been cut out.
What was most apparent upon doing so was how far the altered garment rode up his legs. It was obviously too short in the first place. The second thing of note was how Braxton began to stretch out his feet and toes. He obviously liked the freedom!
Babies are actually well adapted to survive cold and not so good at handling heat. In fact, one of the possible causes of cot death is overheating the baby by smothering it in clothing, blankets and and over-heating the room. Babies come with a generous layer of subcutaneous fat that is excellent insulation. While the skin may feel quite cold, Braxton's core temperature will remain a healthy 37-38 Degrees Celsius. If you are ever unsure about this you can always take your baby's core temperature with a thermometer.
As with adults, the legs,feet, arms and hands act as the body's radiators with warm arterial blood flow to them regulated to maintain a warm core temperature. To help baby maintain a healthy core temperature my advice is to keep his body and head well covered in cold weather while keeping the feet and hands relatively free of insulation - of course, there is a time and place for gloves and toasty booties! Incidentally, as I am writing this it would not be more than a chilly 10 degrees in this room. My feet are bare; but I have three layers of warm clothing on my body and a hat. My core temperature is assured.
As your child grows up and begins to walk and run, give them every opportunity to go barefoot. Allow them to get mud between their toes. Allow them to be grounded to Mother Earth!