We have written before about the advantages for us all to go barefoot
- but we never emphasized the need for babies and children to go barefoot too.
Many young parents are anxious to put shoes on their babies as soon as they start to walk but don't be in too much of a hurry.
Bare feet are important for the proper growth of the foot and even for brain development.
There are lots of other good reasons too...
- Going barefoot helps to strengthen the feet and rest of the body. Unfortunately, when children wear shoes, the functions of their feet are altered. Too much conforming and too little freedom.
- Wearing overprotective footwear can interfere with a foot's movement patterns, stabilizing the foot in the shoe which means that the child will not necessarily learn to stabilize their foot without the shoe. The stabilizing effect of modern footwear can interfere with the development of a child’s foot strength, ankle stability and movement patterns for the rest of their life.
- Going barefoot helps with the foot's fine motor muscle development of the foot. Free of shoes, the feet can become acutely sensitive instruments and tools in much the same way as our hands - and we don't wear shoes on our hands!
- Being without shoes allows the reflexology points under the feet to stimulate every major organ in the body.
- And of course there is the whole question of grounding when being barefoot helps children connect with nature, coming in contact with negative ions. These are known to have a healing anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Sadly, the wearing of shoes creates a shield from the earth.
What about health and safety when going barefoot?
Modern health and safety concerns have meant that many children are encouraged to keep their shoes on at all times. Gone are the days when children at nursery school could kick off their shoes the minute they walked in the door - and run and play on the grass
or in the sand box.
Parents and teachers alike worry about broken glass, bees, dog feces and more.
My own granddaughter is always running around barefoot on the grass and has probably been stung by a bee a dozen times over the years - but it has not put her off. Her grandmother is equally keen on working on the allotment
barefoot all summer long but luckily without getting stung!
It is said that being barefoot actually keeps children safer because they have more control when climbing trees, running and chasing or playing on the playground. While they do have to be on the lookout for hazards, their feet will be tougher and better able to handle anything.
Please think twice about confining your children's feet to shoes all the time. It prevents the proper development of the foot and could lead to permanent changes to its shape or construction. This in turn can even mean an altered gait, a malformed knee, hip or pelvis in years to come.
For your children's and their feet's sake, let them run and play barefoot on different natural surfaces (grass, dirt, mud, sand or wet leaves) as often as you can.