Monday, 9 August 2010

The Benefits of Barefoot

My son gets unsettled easily by walking on strange surfaces. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a park with a big sandpit play area with some friends. I promptly removed his socks and shoes ready for him to get stuck in to playing and he promptly started crying, loudly! Similarly, we were in another park where the ground around the play equipment was all chunky bark and even with his sturdy shoes on, it felt uneven and lumpy under his feet and he didn't want to walk about on it unless holding my hand, and even then, barely walked on it at all. In the house he never wears shoes and will happily walk around barefoot or in socks. The odd time I've put him barefoot in the garden, he stands frozen in one spot and will only take a few steps. I guess I just need to persevere with the barefoot time in the garden and recognise that with time he'll become more comfortable with textures like sand.

There was an article in the Guardian today, Why barefoot is best for children, which had some interesting points. We are probably all aware that allowing our children to explore barefoot from a young age is important but with all the cute baby and children's shoes on the market, you wonder how many people really encourage it. The main benefits of children being barefoot, accordingly to the article are as follows:

  • It helps the muscles and ligaments of their feet to develop.

  • It strengthens the arch of the foot.

  • It aids toddlers'awareness of their position in relation to the space around them.

  • It encourages good posture.

The article also explains how important it is for childrens' footwear to be well-fitting:
The human foot at birth is not a miniature version of an adult foot. In fact, it contains no bones at all and consists of a mass of cartilage, which, over a period of years, ossifies to become the 28 bones that exist in the adult human foot. This process is not complete until the late teens.

If you read the article all the way through, you'll see that a particular type of shoe is recommended for children that encompasses a lot of the benefits of walking barefoot but with the protection that a shoe provides.

Most of us would be concerned about our little ones walking around in public areas barefoot, with cigarette butts, rubbish, dog dirt and such like around. Ensure they wear good shoes when they are in areas where their feet need protection and when they are in safe, clean areas that you can control, such as your home and garden, allow them as much barefoot time as possible.

Are your children comfortable walking around barefoot on different surfaces? Do you already encourage them to go barefoot as much as possible?


Photo credit


1 comment:

  1. hi there... lovely to catch up on your posts and couldn't agree more that in our fleeting English summers we should be leaving the computer to its own devices ;-) (I guess this is me finding me opting out/opting in balance!)

    I have always always encouraged my daughter to walk barefoot. To her it's pretty normal as I still do it 'almost' as much now as I did when I was a kid. I feel it encourages freedom, new and important sensations and I'm sure is beneficial for growing feet. Today we met up with a group of parents and I watched her squealing in delight as she tromped through a muddy pond barefoot. I'm sure some parents would go mad, but if you can't be free and barefoot as a kid, when can you?! x


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