The case for bare feet in early walking
As adults, we’re so used to wearing shoes all day that it can seem weird or even unsafe to let a child run around without them. What about rocks, sticks, glass, or other sharp things? Well, don’t let Baby‘s bare feet loose on any city sidewalks, but in playgrounds, parks, backyards, and homes, it’s a good idea to let Baby walk and explore sans shoes.
Baby‘s feet are still growing
At this stage in her life, Baby doesn’t have fully formed bones in her feet, and she won&;t until around 5 years old. She is growing and learning how to walk, and her feet need to grow and learn how to be feet. If they’re stuck in shoes all day, they don’t get to flex and develop properly, and Baby may have a little harder of a time learning to walk and run and climb. Wearing shoes while learning to walk can also make the foot conform to the shape of the shoe. When you’re playing around the house, walking outside, or hanging out anywhere where you know the ground is safe, let Baby explore with bare feet.
It will help her walk
Barefoot, Baby will be able to feel and grip the ground (or anything else she might be playing on). She will know when the ground dips, becomes softer, or changes texture, and she will be able to adjust accordingly. She will also build up callouses on the bottom of her feet, making it easier for her to walk around barefoot the more she does it.
It’s good for her body
Wearing shoes changes how your feet propel your body forward, and it’s important while Baby is growing that she uses all those muscles in her toes, feet, ankles, and legs. She also won&;t have to deal with the added weight of shoes being attached to her feet, and she will have a better understanding of her own body. The nerves in her feet will help her recognize the ground beneath her. Basically, she will have a much better way of knowing of where she ends and the world begins.
None of this means she needs to (or should!) go shoeless forever. There are certainly times when it’s best that your little one’s feet are protected. When you need her feet to be warm or covered but still want the benefits that bare feet provide, socks with rubber grips can be a good in-between solution. And shoes have their place too! They’re perfectly fine for short periods of time and don’t have any negative effects on dangling feet. They’re just not good for all-the-time wear while Baby is learning how to walk and use her feet. When Baby does need shoes to walk in, look for ones with flexible rubber soles with soft material on top. See if you can bend and flex shoes before you buy them, and try to avoid anything stiff or rigid.
If you feel like you’re missing out on any cute shoe opportunities, remember, baby socks are good for early walkers and are also the most adorable clothing articles in the entire world. Stock up!
- Knight, Lauren. “Why kids should go barefoot more (and probably adults, too). The Washington Post. The Washington Post. February 29, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/29/why-kids-should-go-barefoot-more-and-probably-adults-too/?utm_term=.bb45dbfe716f
- Elejalde-Ruiz, Alexia. “When should your child start wearing shoes?” Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. November 6, 2013. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-06/health/sc-health-1106-baby-shoes-20131106_1_shoes-mary-janes-women-podiatrists
- Murphy, Sam. “Why barefoot is best for children.” The Guardian. The Guardian. August 9, 2010. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/09/barefoot-best-for-children