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Parental guidance: Learning to walk

Socks are okay when your toddler is learning

Socks are okay when your toddler is learning to walk. Credit: Handout

I've heard that when my baby is learning to walk, I shouldn't put socks on her feet because it will impede her progress or even prevent her from walking correctly. Is that true?

A.Go ahead and put socks on your child when she's learning to walk around the house; that's what most people do. "I love socks," says Dr. Michael Pliskin, chief of podiatry at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. "Socks are definitely what we recommend."

Socks offer cushioning to the child's feet, and they absorb excess moisture, which helps in avoiding fungus or virus. "Socks will not impede walking and are a necessity on cold days and any time for protection," Pliskin says. They won't affect toe growth or foot development, he says.

He does offer two caveats: "Socks can be slippery," Pliskin says, so he recommends socks with rubber traction on the bottom. And make sure they aren't too tight. A baby can't tell you they are tight, so you need to watch for signs. "They're too small if they're cutting off circulation, causing lines to form on the feet," Pliskin says.

Incidentally, when choosing shoes for a child learning to walk, the most important thing is the fit, Pliskin says. Leave a half a thumb's length between the child's toe and the end of the shoe to make sure they aren't too tight. And choose soft soles so the foot can bend, with rubber on the bottom for traction, he says.

Send your Parental Guidance questions to Beth.Whitehouse@newsday.com and follow her on Twitter @bethwhitehouse1.

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