I don’t know about you but I was super excited to buy my little one's first pair of shoes. I had cooed over them for ages and when he was walking confidently enough I couldn’t wait to get his cute little feet into those adorable little shoes.
It wasn’t until later that I found out about the research looking at why barefoot is best for toddlers. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Research has shown that babies develop stronger, more coordinated foot muscles when they are allowed to go barefoot most of the time (assuming the surface is safe). It also helps them develop good posture.
At birth the bones in your little one's feet are soft, as they grow, the bones firm up and then the joints, ligament and muscles in the feet develop. Wearing shoes can interfere with this development because they restrict the foot and prevent it from moving and growing in a natural way. Wearing shoes can also cause undue pressure on the spine and other major bone groups.
Agility and awareness
When the foot is in direct contact with the ground the brain receives information through nerve endings letting the body know how to adjust for balance. You will often find when your little one is barefoot they spend a lot of time looking up. Wearing shoes adds a layer of protection to the feet meaning the brain can’t perceive where they are making it much harder for your little one to balance. Meaning they spend a lot of time looking at their feet. Shoes can also restrict toe spread, which helps toddlers to balance.
Going barefoot means that your little one is better able to safely traverse different surfaces. Walking and running barefoot on sand, grass and mud gives toddlers the confidence to move their bodies in different settings. Research has even suggested that going barefoot means your little one is less prone to injury.
Sensory motor development
There are around 200,000 nerve endings in the sole of the foot! Have you ever noticed babies exploring things with their feet as well as their hands? Your little one will experience many sensations through being barefoot before they begin to stand and walk, pushing their toes into carpets, sofas, grass and sand. Letting them go barefoot allows them to continue with this sensory development.
So it might be best to save those little shoes for the cold outdoors and let your little ones go barefoot at home.
If you are looking to keep your little one’s feet warm whilst they learn to toddle our socks have non-slip grips on the sole so they could be a great alternative to shoes.
There are also a lot of small brands selling barefoot baby shoes, these are designed not to interfere with your little one's foot development and can be a really great alternative to traditional baby shoes.
If you have any comments or questions at all I would love to read them, please drop them in the box below!
Have an incredible day!