You’ve read all the baby books and are fully prepared to bring your new, little peanut home. Or so you thought. All of a sudden, a million questions begin to run through your head, one of which is whether or not it’s necessary to keep your infant’s feet covered with socks. Some mothers say it’s absolutely imperative to the health and wellbeing of your baby, while others say socks can impede the normal development of a newborn’s feet. So which is it? Experts say it’s actually somewhere in between.
Believe it or not, baby socks and booties are more than just cute. They can help regulate your infant’s temperature as well as keep his or her feet protected from things like sunburn and potentially harmful zippers and other sharp objects. But even though socks are sometimes necessary, they can also pose serious health risks to your newborn. That’s why it’s crucial to know when and why you should put socks on your baby.
Why Infant Socks Are Important
The majority of tiny tots’ body warmth escapes mostly through their heads and feet, so keeping those areas protected with socks and a hat will help keep your baby comfortable and warm. In fact, fussiness, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite and poor weight gain are all associated with a child being too cold, meaning a simple pair of socks could help ease these irritating symptoms.
A good rule of thumb when dressing your infant is to add one more layer of clothing than you are comfortable wearing. For instance, if you’re in a long sleeved t-shirt and feel good, perhaps add a fleece bodysuit or footed pajamas over your baby’s cotton onesie.
Editor’s Tip: It’s normal for babies’ hands and feet to feel cool, so don’t go on that cue alone when deciding whether or not your baby’s feet should be covered. If your child’s feet look blotchy or blue, slip them into some warm socks or booties.
Risks Associated With Infant Socks: Sock Line Hyperpigmentation and More
While it’s important for babies to wear socks in cool conditions, pediatricians often recommend that infants go barefoot so they have the ability to fully wiggle all of their toes. In fact, some health care providers suggest that going barefoot is vital for infant foot development. Therefore, it’s best to allow your baby to go without socks as often as possible, either in a heated room or on warm summer days.
When you do cover your baby’s feet with socks, it’s important to look for socks that aren’t too tight, which can reduce circulation, interfere with normal foot development and cause a condition called sock-line hyperpigmentation, which is a harmless but permanent scar caused by the red lines that appear from wearing too-tight socks. To be on the safe side, choose socks made of natural materials without rubber or elastic bands, and make sure you place your finger between the fabric and your baby’s skin to make sure the sock doesn’t fit too tight.