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5 Reasons To Let Your Kids Go Barefoot

I'm always surprised by how many concerned comments we get from well meaning strangers when my kids are barefoot in public. Comments like "Be careful, there are sharp rocks out here" or "Ouch, don't the wood chips hurt their feet?" I know these people mean well and are genuinely concerned but their concern is misplaced. Going barefoot has many benefits and wearing shoes too often can actually be damaging.

In this post I will share 5 ways going barefoot is beneficial for children (and adults too).


Proper Foot And Leg Development:

Wearing shoes affects the way a person steps. It requires using different sets of muscles differently than walking barefoot. Over time this can affect the development of the foot and leg muscles.

Modern shoes are constricting. Over time they can actually change the shape of a person's feet. Shoes can squish the bones of the feet together, affecting toe spread and arch. 

Flat feet are rare in places where shoes are seldom worn. Toe spread is also much wider in these areas than in their shoe wearing counterparts. Wearing shoe's can cause a narrowing of the feet, not unlike the Chinese practice of foot binding. 

Essentially, wearing shoes too often, especially while the feet are still growing can literally deform a person's feet.

Enhance Proprioception:

Proprioception is the sense of where your body and it's individual components are in respect to each other and the world around them.

There are important feedback loops between the muscles of the feet and lower legs and the brain. These interactions result in important behavoirs like adjusting stride length and foot placement as you walk or run. Shoes can interfere with these feedback loops since they absorb shock and dull sensation. 

Going barefoot increases body awareness, increasing agility, posture, and balance.

Improve The Senses:

There are over 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of our feet, one of the highest concentrations in the body. This is for good reason, increased sensory input allows us to move more carefully and better adapt to the terrain under our feet.


 Boost The Immune System:

Contrary to popular belief, going barefoot does not increase your exposure to dangerous bacteria and fungi. Shoes provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Going barefoot gives your feet plenty of exposure to fresh air which helps inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. 

Infact, going barefoot may actually boost the immune system. According to a report published in The Journal of Environmental and Public Health, walking barefoot decreases white blood cell count while increasing red blood cell count, indicating a positive immune response. 

Connect With Nature:

Walking barefoot helps kids connect with nature and develop a respect for the planet.

When we walk barefoot our bodies absorb the Earth's free electrons. Free electrons are a well established antioxidant that help neutralize damaging free radicals, thus reducing inflammation. 

When we walk barefoot we literally absorb the Earth's energy. It can help stabilize circadian rhythms, reduce stress, and increase energy. It's really pretty amazing! 


-Barefoot vs common footwear:  a systematic review of kinematic, kinetic, and muscle activity differences while walking:

-Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth's surface elections:


  1. Interesting article! I always enjoy walking in bare feet especially in the summer on the cool grass. My grandson love it too! So good to know that it does not only feel good, but is so beneficial!

    1. Barefeet on cool grass does feel amazing! :-)

  2. My girls and I often go barefoot. Mountain Goat (17 mths) especially loves having her feet free. Aside from your last point, all if the benefits you mention are backed by science, and anecdotally, I'd have to agree!

    1. My toddler loves having her feet free too :-)

  3. We are a barefoot family! My kids prefer to be barefoot outside in the car, everywhere lol

  4. Barefoot is the best! Looks love this ❤️

  5. Great post! We LOVE going barefoot as well. Nothing better than feeling grass under our feet :)

  6. Great post! My littles are barefoot from April to November lol

  7. Love this! Except in stores my kids are always barefoot. I hear all the time that my kids should have shoes on but clearly I don't listen!

    1. Seems like one of those thing people feel like they just have to comment on lol.

  8. These are all great reasons! I remember as a child crying because the babysitter wouldn't let me be barefoot (even in the house.) My kids and I are often barefoot in the summer, but our winters are too cold!

    1. We don't do much barefoot time outdoors in winter either, too cold, but we spend a good deal of the rest of the year barefoot.

  9. We're a barefoot family, except for my husband. He used to fuss at us all to put our shoes on -- but he's given up. Ha, ha! I'll have to let him read this article and show him that science backs me up on this one.

    1. My husband isn't much of a barefooter either, but I have got him going barefoot more often than he used to.

  10. We really need to do this more often. I grew up in the country and rarely wore shoes. We are in the city now and my son rarely goes without shoes and he has flat feet...maybe that is why?

    1. It can definitely be hard to find safe places to barefoot in the city, maybe start by just being barefoot at home more :-)

  11. I need to let my toddler go barefoot more. I did as a kid all the time but now that I'm a mom, I'm a bit too over protective. lol

    1. I can understand, no one wants to see their toddler get hurt. Maybe just start by going barefoot more at home and in your own yard where you can make it safe :-)

  12. We’re definitely a shoeless household. The only time we wear shoes is when we’re absolutely have to leave the house.


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