Why Kids Should Be Barefoot When They Are Learning to Walk

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Chiropractors say we should let our babies go barefoot and they have some pretty interesting info to back it up.

Back in the day, parents always put their children in shoes when they were learning to walk. They were stiff and unforgiving and looking back, they seemed a ridiculous way to help kids navigate their first steps. Do you remember those white shoes with the flat, hard surface?

Now there are so many adorable looking shoes for babies and toddlers, folks want to buy them all. I don’t even have a baby right now and I still find myself touching them in the store and gushing about how cute they are. (Except for these baby high heels. What is going on here, people? Explain yourself!)

It’s so precious to see tiny hiking boots or pink patent leathers on a little baby foot, right?

Why Kids Should Be Barefoot When They Are Learning to Walk

This is why kids should go barefoot.

Dr. Kacie Flegal, a chiropractor, and member of the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association says we should probably knock that off. She suggests we should try harder to let our littles ones go barefoot. (I’m still buying the cute shoes… just as soon as I find a baby to give them to.)

She claims it’s important because of the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system. Don’t panic. I didn’t know what those were either.

The proprioceptive system allows humans to perceive the motion and position of our bodies in the space we inhabit. It allows us to immediately respond and adjust to incoming information.

In other words, we know our arm is raised or our foot is lifted off the ground.

The vestibular system is an inner ear balance mechanism that works with both the eyes and the brain. This is why I was able to walk into the grocery store yesterday without falling down. (Okay, well maybe a gallon of coffee helped.)

When your kiddo is trying to learn to walk with shoes on, they aren’t able to feel the ground beneath them as they would without shoes. Those little nerve endings in their feet need to make contact directly with the ground.

Being barefoot makes the whole walking thing much easier.

The sensory input from the bottom of the foot sends information to the brain that helps kids make adjustments that help them walk better. They are more “tuned into their surroundings.”

Shoes, as you might have imagined, are not conducive to that kind of sensory input. The child can’t feel the nuance of the ground beneath them and that makes walking or learning to walk, more difficult.

Dr. Flegal suggests you let your kiddos, new walkers and older kids as well, walk around barefoot as often as possible. She says they should be allowed to do so on all sorts of surfaces, like grass, dirt, sand, and wet leaves. (I won’t even walk barefoot on wet leaves, Dr. Flegal. Eww.)

“Feet are one of the most sensory-rich parts of the human body,” she writes. “The soles of the feet are extremely sensitive to touch, and there are large concentrations of proprioceptors in the joints and muscles of the feet. In fact, the feet alone have as many proprioceptors as the entire spinal column!”

“As a result, you will permit them a great platform for the development of higher brain centers responsible for emotional control, problem solving, language, social skills, and self-assurance,” Flegal says.

So take off those little shoes…and your big ones as well.

Human beings were around a very long time before shoes came on the scene, so go back in time a little bit and connect with the Earth again. It feels good to be so close to the ground beneath us. What do you say?

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