Most children take their first steps between the age of 8 to 18 months. A child who is learning to walk receives important sensory information from the soles of their feet that are touching the ground. At this stage, making your kids wear shoes can pose a major disadvantage to their development. The disadvantages of making children wear shoes include-

  1. Most of the children’s shoes are too stiff, rigid, and least flexible at the sole. They also come with too much heel raise. This is of tremendous concern when the kids are learning to walk as it causes them to unnecessarily bounce and tip forward. 
  2. There is no heel to toe bend, or give in the soles of children’s shoes. This abates the movements of the forefoot to zero. 
  3. The lack of direct contact with the floor, or surface on which your kid is walking can lead to issues like not being able to connect with the traction of the surface, which can result in falling or slipping.
  4. Poorly fitting or improper shoes can cause ingrown toenails in a kid’s foot.
  5. Making your toddlers wear shoes from a very young age may result in unnatural structural issues in their feet.
  6. There is also a risk of developing an athlete’s foot if your kid’s shoes aren’t made of breathable material that allows fast drying.
  7. Making kids wear inappropriate shoes at a tender age may lead to several foot deformities such as abnormally shaped toes, development of bunions, severe in- or out-toeing, flat feet, etc. that will not only cause pain to your child but will also limit their functions and growth.
  8. Shoes may even influence the way your child walks. Due to less sensory stimulation and pain from wearing shoes, your child may start limping or preferring one leg over another while walking.

Why Should Children Wear Shoes?

Although it is unfortunate that making children wear shoes has so many disadvantages, the importance and benefits of wearing shoes cannot be overlooked. Having a protective pair of footwear with the correct fit is essential for the overall health and comfort of your children’s feet.

There are several reasons why it is important that children wear shoes.

1. In some cases wearing shoes prevent foot problems-

Going without shoes in a harsh or filthy environment can cause issues like corns, fungal infections in nails, and athlete’s foot. Over time, these problems can develop into even more serious concerns and even result in the foot arches collapsing.

2. They help alleviate pain-

When injured or participating in certain sports games, shoes may be needed for extra protection and to absorb impacts as your kids walk, run, or jump. Wearing shoes also encourages your child to participate and excel in sports without worrying about any strain on the feet.

3. Shoes help prevent infections-

Playgrounds and other public places may not have good sanitation as they are frequently used by people from all walks of life. Letting your toddler go without shoes in such areas will make them susceptible to bacterial and fungal foot infections, as well as to parasitic worms. These diseases, if escalated, might even be debilitating, or sometimes, even lethal to children.

4. Prevents the risk of injury-

On some occasions, going barefoot puts children at risk of tick bites, hookworms, and injuries. They may end up with severe cuts and wounds from stepping on broken glass, sharp objects, or rusty nails. There is a chance that they might encounter prickly bush or poison ivy while exploring barefoot, and end up with an itchy rash, or thorns sticking to their feet.

While from a functional perspective, wearing shoes is not really required for children, you cannot ignore the need for shoes based on the environment that a child is in. Urban environments are full of unnatural dangers such as dirt, animal waste, and possible hazards like glass, hence it is essential for children to wear shoes to attain protection against these dangers. The middle ground for this dilemma can be reached by finding some information on barefoot shoes for children.

Barefoot Shoes for Children

Minimalist shoes, or barefoot shoes for children are footwear designed with the following key features-

  • Bendable and flexible soles
  • A fairly large toe box to allow sufficient movement of toes
  • A comfortable, yet sturdy grip
  • Minimumal or no heel rise

Barefoot shoes do not restrict normal movement or posture in any way. Your child’s feet are free to move exactly in the way they would with no shoes on. There are several benefits of walking barefoot. However, in most environments, going without shoes is not a feasible option. The use of barefoot shoes will not only allow the proper development and gait of your child’s foot but also offer protection as a normal shoe would.

The Benefits of Barefoot Shoes

The lightweight and flexible minimalist shoes allow your children to extend their toes and walk as if they are walking barefoot. This has several advantages for the proper growth of children-

1. They help improve sensory development-

Barefoot shoes have very little to no padding in the soles, thus allowing sensory stimulation in the child and promoting sensory growth.

2. Barefoot shoes help improve the balance-

The flexible and lightweight shoe material along with a spacious toe box allows the children to have a good grip while climbing or running. The shoe takes an anatomical shape of the foot and helps in developing stronger toes and feet muscles while providing overall stability to your child.

3. It allows natural strengthens the muscles-

Less padding and a wide toe box of these shoes provide much-needed support and wiggle room for the healthy development of foot arch, muscles, and ligaments in kids. Hence, it is essential to consider all the aspects when you are looking for how to find the perfect barefoot shoes for your child.