Some babies and toddlers have dummies. Others have loveys or blankies.
But my 16-month-old is snuggling their shoes for bed and even insists on having them on for a bath…
Besides the fact that it’s a rather bizarre choice of comforter, are there any red flags I should watch out for?
I mean, other than the obvious lack of hygiene, and the extra dose of germs & dirt they bring to the bed? Not that I want to keep my little tot sterile… It’s part of building a strong immune system, right?
Let’s figure out what’s really going on here and see if there is anything you need to do about this quirky behaviour, okay?
It’s not unusual for babies and toddlers to be fixated on their shoes. Studies did not fully understand and cover the exact reason for this. However, one of the possibilities is that shoes are just a really familiar and visually complex object in your baby’s environment that gives them a sense of comfort and security. Another explanation is that baby is typically wear shoes to go outside, which is something they love to do. And finally, shoes are worn by the baby’s parents as they walk, run, and engage in other activities. And babies may be simply interested in watching and imitating these actions.
Baby’s Quirky Obsessions
First thing first…
You may be relieved to know that there are other quirky objects that babies and toddlers like to bring to bed with them, except for their muddy footwear.
It can be their coats, hats, books, sippy cups, Legos, socks, rocks, hair bands, hairbrushes, toothbrushes… you get the picture.
And no, it’s not a sign that your little one is some kind of weirdo.
It doesn’t mean your baby is on the Spectrum either… in case such a thought popped into your head.
It’s just a normal part of their development. That’s how they explore the world around them.
And it means absolutely nothing wrong.
So, as long as your baby’s quirky fascinations are not harmful to themselves, they shouldn’t cause any concern to you.
And don’t worry, this fixation won’t last forever.
Your baby will eventually move on to something else…like, say, a cheese grater or a stapler. (Kidding, kidding…hopefully.)
So don’t stress about it too much.
Just enjoy this phase of your little one’s journey and marvel at their weird and wonderful obsessions.
Now, you might be wondering: why shoes, though?
Like, why are babies so obsessed with those clunky, smelly foot covers?
Shoes Provide Them with Comfort And Familiarity
I fully understand how this sounds…
Shoes are equivalent to your child’s favourite teddy, dummy, blanket or other toy or familiar object (aka lovey) that normally provides them with a sense of security and comfort.
But, hey, no judgement here.
Everyone has their own interests and preferences.
So is your baby.
And it is pretty common in the UK and USA for children to have an attachment object. Between 60-70 % of children, have one. And by the age of four, they will grow out of their comfort object.
So, if your tot throws a tantrum that would put Godzilla to shame when you try to take away their shoes or stage a sit-in protest to avoid separation from their beloved footwear, then you can be sure of one thing. – You’ve got a shoe-obsessed little tyke on your hands who use their shoes for comfort!
Don’t worry, their reaction is perfectly normal for a child who is fiercely attached to their familiar kicks.
And the sooner you accept it, the better for you and your child.
Just treat it as a strange love object.
And finally… listen, parents, don’t even think about messing with your toddler’s shoe obsession.
If they’re clinging to their kicks like they’re a lifeline, it’s because they are.
These little ones need their shoes for comfort, just like you need your morning coffee to function.
So let them be, and don’t be the reason for a toddler meltdown.
Trust me, you don’t want to see a tiny human have a shoe tantrum.
How Babies Form Attachments | Four Stages | Schaffer & Emerson
Shoes Are Worn To Go Out. Babies Love Exploring Outdoor Surroundings.
Babies are nature lovers.
From the towering trees to the tiny bugs.
Everything outside is an exciting adventure for their curious little minds.
They crave new experiences, sounds, and smells that can only be found outdoors.
And let’s face it.
They’re cooped up inside most of the time, anyway.
So, if your little one insists on carrying their shoes around or bringing you your pair, they’re not being subtle – they’re shouting it from the rooftops: “Take me outside, now!”
Shoes mean adventure, sensory stimulation, and a chance to explore the great outdoors.
Who can blame them?
7 Reasons Why Children Need To Play Outdoors
Shoes Are Worn By Parents. Babies Want To Imitate Their Behaviour.
Babies love to imitate their parents because they want to be just like us!
And who can blame them?
We – parents, are basically superheroes in their eyes. We can do anything!
Well, except get a full night’s sleep, but that’s beside the point…
And the reason children are copycats is that they are hard-wired to imitate their parents.
That’s how they learn and develop all basic skills, such as communicating, how emotions work, or how to be independent.
It’s called “social referencing,” and it’s how babies figure out what’s safe and what’s not.
So, when your little one sees you smiling and clapping your hands, they want to do exactly the same.
And one of the very positive consequences of a baby watching you like a hawk its prey is actually the bond between the child and parent gets so much stronger.
But let’s be real.
Sometimes babies take the imitation game a little too far.
Like when they start repeating all the not-so-nice words we say when we stub our toe on the coffee table.
Or when they see you putting on your shoes and going about doing different activities and movements.
And as they grow and become more aware of adult activities and social norms, their interest in shoes may increase even more!
Key Learning Points
So there you have it, folks. Just to summarise the key information:
- It is normal for babies and toddlers to have quirky objects that they are attached to, including shoes.
- As long as their behaviour is not harmful, there is generally nothing to worry about.
- Shoes can provide comfort and familiarity for babies, similar to other comfort objects like dummies, loveys or blankets.
- Babies may also be drawn to shoes because they associate them with going outside and exploring new surroundings, which they absolutely love!
- Babies are great copycats and often imitate their parents’ behaviour. Therefore, wearing shoes is something that they may want to do to mimic their parents.