Healthy kids: This is why you should let your children go barefoot at home
Being Scandinavian, I enforce very strict rules about shoes inside the house – as in; it is one big no-no.
Seriously; despite living here for close to a decade, wearing shoes inside the house is the one Irish "thing" I can not ever get onboard with.
I mean; we are talking shoes. That you just walked around outside in. Stepping in spit and dog pee and rubbish. Oh, and that restaurant toilet you went into on your lunch break? Chances are it was covered in fecal particles. And so why would you want all of this rubbed into your floors – and worse, carpets – in your home?
The beauty of not wearing shoes inside is that you don't have to clean your floors so often either. I mean; I do still have to clean then – I have kids – so there are always some Cheerios accidents and slime spills to deal with, but as for outside dirt; no thank you.
Another reason for wanting to keep outside shoes away from my inside floors is the fact that when at home, both myself and the children tend to walk around in our bare feet. Seriously; the minute we walk through the door in the afternoons, off come our shoes and socks and only when it's really, really cold do we tend to go for things like slippers and big, cozy socks.
I thought this was just a quirky little habit at first, something I always did as a child and now, subconsciously, have made my children do too, but it turns out, for children, being barefoot as much as possible is actually good for them in a whole variety of ways.
Still not convinced? Here are four ways being barefoot is actually a great thing for your kids' health:
1. It builds better balance
Walking around in their bare feet helps children develop good posture and increases their balance too. In fact; experts have found that toddlers keep their heads up more when they walk barefoot because of the sensory feedback they get from the ground that they do not feel while wearing shoes.
As well as this, being barefot also nourishes, strengthens, and promotes agility in a child’s growing feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. This is because bare feet allow children to feel the details of the ground while walking or running around, meaning they are more likely to adjust their movements because they have more direct contact with the ground.
2. It develops body awareness
Walking around with no shoes connects children more directly with their environment, raising their entire body awareness.
Did you know that each foot contains about 200,000 nerve endings – meaning they make up a huge part of our sensory system. When barefoot, children build neuromuscular strength, spacial orientation, balance, and coordination, and are more easily able to climb, pivot, balance, and adjust quickly when the ground surface changes, because they can directly feel the surface they are walking on.
3. It prevents injury
Many physiotherapists argue that going barefoot is important, and can actually prevent injuries from forming. For children, having their feet enclosed in shoes for most of the day can cause problems for their feet because they are unable to develop naturally when they are constrained. The shoes prevent necessary toe spread, interferring with the foot’s ability to function properly, something which limits movement development, making children more susceptible to injuries in their feet and legs.
4. It improves senses
When you wear shoes or socks, every surface you walk on feels the same. In your bare feet, the wooden floors in the sitting room will feel very different to the carpet upstairs and the cold tiles in the bathroom or the grass in the garden. Having your childrens' feet be allowed to experience different sensations will give them a chance to develop a mindful presence and conscious awareness of their surroundings.