The author of the letter below, published in 1831, vehemently proscribed the use of overshoes as an article of clothing for children. He wrote:
Overshoes For Children
To the Editor of the Boston Med. and Surg. Journal
Sir,—It is a subject of regret that there is so great a demand, in this part of the country, for children's India-rubbers; and as your Journal is probably taken by every physician in New England of any distinction, I am desirous of enlisting, through its pages, their influence against so pernicious a custom. Are not parents sensible that they cannot well do their children a greater unkindness, than thus cautiously to protect their feet from external dampness, and parboil them in perspiration? The feet of children should be well bathed in the coldest water every morning throughout the year, and they should then be protected by nothing thicker, warmer, or more impervious to water, than leather shoes. If, in wet weather, the soles of these shoes are soaked through, no injury can come of it, if the child have never been made tender and susceptible of cold by practice I feel it is a duty to discourage. On the contrary, he will run and sport about more briskly, and lay the foundation of a firmer constitution, and more vigorous and uniform good health.
I have noticed several families of children whose feet are thus habitually guarded, and find them looking puny and pale, kept at home from school oftener by colds, than other children by bad walking, and in sickness offering much less resistance to disease than those whose systems have been fortified by more hardy management.