Is it just me or does the coming of summer make you reminisce of those warm summer days where you, as a child, ran barefoot through the grass? There isn’t anything quite like enjoying this beautiful earth barefoot, am I right? And so I am here to tell you some of the benefits of letting your child be barefoot a little bit more. And I don’t mean just occasionally, like at the beach or at home. I am saying as much as possible, whenever possible. I say we should give our children a taste of the best bits of our own childhood – without shoes on.
So yes… I am that mom that says yes to my daughter when she asks if she can take her shoes off outside.
→Wearing shoes changes the way we walk. And it isn’t for the better.
I couldn’t say it better than this: “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait [and] in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot” (Dr. William Rossi).
The point is that when the foot is bound in a shoe all the time it can not develop properly. So in forcing your child’s feet to conform to the shape of their shoe, the result can be (or, will most likely be) permanent changes to the shape of their foot. And a poorly constructed foot can alter one’s gait and have a domino effect affecting the knees, hips, pelvis, spine, and neck later down the line.
→Wearing shoes is actually more dangerous than going barefoot.
I know what you’re thinking… how could going barefoot actually make my child safer? But what about glass, bees, dog poop, and all those other hazards out there?
Here is a little secret. Kids (and adults too) who are used to going barefoot tend to have a heightened awareness of their surroundings. Going barefoot actually causes us to instinctively pay attention to where we’re putting our sensitive feet. We pay attention to the ground in front of us more. And because we step more gently when we’re barefoot, we’re likely to notice if we’re starting to put our foot down on something sharp and quickly lift it, avoiding injury. Cool hey! Plus, over time, as your feet become hardened from connecting with this beautiful earth a little more often – feet become tougher and withstand what we weren’t able to avoid with our superior reflexes. Truth is, at the end of the day, if something does happen – it most likely won’t require more than a bandaid and a cuddle to be on the mend and onto the next barefoot adventure.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, going barefoot strengthens the feet and leg muscles and improves agility, both of which reduce the likelihood of harm rather than increase it. Most injuries occur with shoes on – because of the shoes themselves. Legit: everything becomes easier when you are able to feel whats below your feet rather than flopping some hard-soled shoes around hoping you can get your bearings on the tree truck or rope climbing structure. (I am sure there is some scientific journal somewhere to back that up.)
→Money in the bank.
Okay, so this might not be the reason to let them go barefoot – but it is sure a nice side-effect. Going barefoot means you are going to save some cash with less wear-and-tear. Maybe those hand-me-down plans for baby #2 will actually happen?
→Don’t forget. It’s a joy to the senses.
You remember that feeling of warm sand at the beach? Or the refreshing feeling of dewy grass in the early morning? What about the feeling of slippery, slimy, wet mud squishing between toes? Or the feeling of the rough bark of an old tree? Remember all these sensations and allow your child the same memories. Heck, kick off your shoes too! Kids learn by what they see so lead by example and relive those childhood memories right along with the littles!
Okay. Despite everything you might think – I am not barbaric.
While there are so many benefits to letting your child be barefoot, obviously shoes are still necessary for our walking tiny humans. I just challenge you to think about what shoes do to our growing little’s feet and come up with ways you can prevent the negative side effects of wearing them. If you find a moment where shoes are a must, you are going to want to choose shoes that are breathable, durable, flexible, and provide room for growth. Look for lightweight, little cushioning and please, please, pleeeeassseee NO heel. I have personally found excellent options that check the boxes with Birkenstock, Keen and PediPed.
Are you going to let them be barefoot a little bit more?
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