Is Walking Barefoot Good or Bad for Children?

Most people grew up with the idea that walking barefoot can lead to illness in children. Continue reading for some facts about this subject as it haunts many parents.
Is Walking Barefoot Good or Bad for Children?

Last update: 30 June, 2021

How many times did you hear that walking barefoot was a no-no as a child? It’s a subject that still haunts parents, so today’s article will discuss some facts researchers recently discovered on the subject. In short, the more freedom tiny feet have, the better they’ll develop.

It was a popular belief that walking barefoot would lead to respiratory illnesses. However, this is entirely false. This is because viruses must enter your body through the upper respiratory tract in order for you to catch a common cold. OK, so what’s the risk for children who don’t want to wear shoes?

Is walking barefoot good or bad for children?

A pair of tiny shoes.
There’s no clear consensus on walking barefoot.

Footwear isn’t recommended during the first months of life. Its function is exclusively against cold, humidity, and injuries. Thus, a seamless sock can perfectly fulfill this function.

In addition, wearing shoes isn’t a good idea during the pre-crawling stage either (usually before the age of 8 months) because crawling without them is essential for the child’s psychomotor development.

It’s past the age of 18 months when the child begins to stand up that a child can begin to use flexible footwear to protect against the cold. It must allow the feet to breathe though.

Then, at the age of four, it’s necessary to protect the foot against certain injuries. Thus, shoes should be more rigid, similar to those used by adults.

The shoes must have a round front and be wide to allow the toes to move inside. Leather is the best material for these as it’s 100% natural and allows the foot to breathe. In addition, they must be easy for the child to put on and take off.

The health benefits of walking barefoot

Here are some of the advantages of not using shoes.

It promotes the formation of the arches of the foot

Children’s feet are made of soft tissue that ossifies during the fetal stage. Most of these bones harden at birth, but complete rigidity doesn’t happen until adulthood.

It’s this flexibility, the abundant fat under the skin, and the articular alterations that cause flat feet during the first three years of life.

This condition in which the inside of the foot is flattened usually corrects itself with growth though. What happens is the entire sole of the foot touches the ground.

It contributes to the child’s sensory development

The feet have a higher tactile sensitivity than the hands between the time a child is born and their first eight-nine months of life. As you can imagine, they use their feet to explore the world around them.

During that process, they move on to their hands and then to their mouth to test things, this is because their senses are more developed.

It isn’t just about the sense of touch though, but also about taste and temperature. This is why it’s so important for them to be able to freely move their toes and feet.

It stimulates kinesthetic sensations

The kinesthetic or proprioceptive sense refers to the ability to detect the position of muscles. It’s the sense that allows us to be aware of our body’s posture in relation to the world around us.

Children need to feel uneven ground, pressures, and different types of textures to develop it. This is because it helps improve the position of the musculature and strengthen their joints.

Possible risks and precautions

A child crying.
Children often express themselves by crying.

The main problems with shoes are their stiffness and incompatibility with a child’s lifestyle.

Little ones love to jump and climb, and shoes will make them slip and fall because most soles aren’t flexible. Also, there are other possible problems such as:

Ingrown toenails

This is a condition in which the corner or side of the toenail grows into the tissue. One of the most common causes is wearing tight shoes that keep the nails too close together.

Athlete’s foot

This fungal infection occurs when the foot is too sweaty inside tight-fitting shoes. You may not be aware of it but damp socks or shoes under hot conditions promote fungal growth.

Structural foot problems

Bunions are the most common structural injury. They’re hard and painful masses on the toe joint. Also, corns and calluses are thickened skin due to friction or pressure while warts often appear on the sole of the foot.

Things to keep in mind when walking barefoot

Insist that your child wears shoes when walking around pools, lawns, or locker rooms to avoid athlete’s foot infections.

You should also keep their tetanus shots up to date in case they step on any sharp objects, and always check their feet for wounds.

Finally, insist they wear shoes in any situation that might be dangerous and which could hurt their feet.

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