‘A very expensive pair of socks!’ Nike faces backlash over ‘unnecessary’ and ‘questionable’ £45 baby trainers that podiatrists warn could hinder walking
Nike’s new ‘unnecessary’ baby shoes have been criticized by podiatrists.
The £45 trainers, which have been branded a ‘very expensive pair of socks’ on social media, could hinder walking and disrupt balance, experts have warned.
Although Nike says its baby shoe is “critical for beginning walkers” and is designed to “promote natural gait development,” it’s best for babies to walk barefoot, according to Rob Payne, a leading musculoskeletal podiatrist at London Podiatry Centre.
Mr Payne, who has worked with Premier League football clubs and Olympic athletes, said ‘the need for wearing trainers is questionable’ for babies.
The £45 trainers, which have been branded on social media as a ‘very expensive pair of socks’, can hinder walking and disrupt balance, experts have warned.
Nike says its baby shoe is ‘critical for early walkers’ and is designed to ‘promote natural gait development’
Podiatrists say babies don’t need to wear shoes and that ill-fitting shoes can hinder a child’s walking motion
“Walking barefoot or in socks has the benefit of improving a baby’s proprioception and finessing their gait,” he said. The Telegraph.
‘Introducing trainers with firm soles at this early stage may impair proprioception due to the increased stiffness of the shoe, potentially affecting balance.’
The sports giant says the shoe, which was released on October 31 and costs £44.95, features a ‘seamless Flyknit upper’ that ‘provides 360 degrees of flexible support’.
It can bend in all directions and has a wide toe box that allows the feet to move as if they were barefoot and allows the toes to spread and flex naturally.
According to the company, the lightweight shoes are the first Nike children’s shoe to receive the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance.
But not all parents posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, are sold.
They said, ‘So Nike expects us to spend money on shoes that mimic carpet for babies learning to walk? That sounds like a very expensive pair of socks.’
One person commented on Nike’s Instagram post promoting the trainers: ‘Kids shouldn’t even be wearing shoes at that age, they’re not developed yet and need contact with the earth, all you’re doing is the tying the poor child’s feet. ‘
But others said the shoes looked “cool” and that the baby in the ad looked like a “future athlete.”
Nike says the shoe can flex in all directions and has a wide toe box so the feet can move as if they were barefoot and the toes can spread and flex naturally. The lightweight shoe is the first Nike children’s shoe to receive the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance
Children’s shoes should give the foot room to grow, have adjustable closures, have a flexible sole and not slip off the foot when walking, says Royal College of Podiatry
Although shoes can provide protection for the feet, introducing them too early can “hinder the development of a baby’s walking gait,” Payne said.
He added: ‘As it is generally recommended that babies learn to walk in a safe indoor environment, which reduces the chance of long-term exposure to hard surfaces such as concrete, such trainers do not seem necessary.’
Podiatrists usually advise parents not to put shoes on their babies at all, because ill-fitting shoes can damage the growth of muscles and soft bones in the feet.
The bones in the feet don’t fully develop until a child is seven or eight and start out as cartilage, meaning they are soft and pliable.
According to the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, it is crucial that babies’ feet are allowed to develop as naturally as possible, ‘without the constrictions of footwear’.
It recommends wearing shoes only from the moment a child is ready to walk outside, because walking barefoot strengthens the muscles in the feet.
Shoes should also allow room for the foot to grow, have adjustable straps, have a flexible sole and not slip off the foot, according to the Royal College of Podiatry.