To bare or not to bare? That is the foot question!

We all remember encouraging those first steps and being so excited when our little ones walk across the room to us. Not long after that, our minds start considering what cute pair of shoes they should wear. With various designs on the market it can feel a bit overwhelming. You may have noticed that in our Kindermusik classes we encourage little ones to take off their shoes. This is not just to keep the mats free from mud (although that does make cleaning easier!) but there are many benefits to removing those shoes.

Why is barefoot better?

When our little ones were born, we all enjoyed looking at those squidgy soft feet. However, there is actually a reason why their feet feel so soft. When babies are born, the bones in their feet are soft like cartilage. Through childhood, the bones in the feet ‘ossify’ and become the hard bone that we feel in our own feet. This process can take up to 18 years! So, as the bones in the feet are soft during childhood, it is important that any shoes that are worn are fitted correctly so no damage occurs to their delicate feet.

How often should my toddler go barefoot?

Paediatricians now feel that it is important to allow your little ones to go barefoot at some point every day if the environment is safe to do so. This will benefit them on so many levels according to Paper Pinecone (2020). When they walk around barefoot, their body can enjoy a sensory experience, for example feeling those cold tiles. Barefoot also helps develop their sense of balance because as they move, their centre of gravity changes which in turn stimulates the vestibular system.

As the feet move, information is also sent to the brain enabling them to be aware of their body’s position in relation to its location and this also helps develop their proprioceptive sense. For example, during a Kindermusik class when your little one is encouraged to step into a hoop, they will need to work out how much muscle strength is needed to lift and move their feet – removing their shoes enhances this experience further.

A recent study in the UK by the Univeristy of Bournemouth found that children learnt much better in the classroom when they took off their shoes! I thought this was an interesting, simple idea that could benefit school children. So now instead of constantly trying to keep socks on my little ones where possible I will enjoy observing how they experience the world in bare feet. Perhaps we would all benefit from removing our socks from time to time!


For more research into going barefeet, check out:

Sun’s Out, Shoes Off: Why Barefoot Is Best

Why going barefoot encourages better foot structure in children