Lose the shoes
Baby Nikes and mini Haviannnas may be cute on your little ones feet but they are also unnecessary. In fact, most of the time all shoes are. They were only ever designed to be temporary, to be used when needed to protect our feet from obvious dangers.
Mud squelching between toes, feet sinking into soft sand, toes gripping onto the bark as you balance on a fallen log and feet getting tickled by blades of grass are not just enjoyable sensory experiences but are incredibly beneficial experiences to the way children develop. Walking barefoot strengthens your feet, lower legs and makes your body more agile and less prone to injury. It also improves spacial awareness and presence of mind. For toddlers it improves balance, posture and coordination.
If you’re concerned about injury or illness then here’s something to consider. The more often you are barefoot the more heightened your sense of surroundings and the tougher your feet get leading to more natural protection. As far as picking up illnesses or diseases then you are far more likely to contract an illness through your hands that touch items where germs are more plentiful. (Think kids touching doorknobs and then touching their face.) In fact shoes don’t necessarily protect against foot illness anyway often creating an opportunity for illness by trapping bacteria and fungus and holding them against your feet - along with darkness, heat and moisture creating an ideal environment for the growth of things like athlete’s foot and toe fungus. And if the shoes aren’t the right fit then things like ingrown toenails.
So whilst no one wants to step on dog poo or glass perhaps next time you’re in the backyard, or walking along the river bank, or jumping stepping stones you can lose the shoes and let your feet do what nature designed them for!
For more information see the below resources: