Seven benefits of babies walking barefoot
Do you ever worry about your child walking barefoot? Take it easy! The benefits of walking barefoot are endless for growing children. Foot health is extremely important because all bodyweight rests on them, but they are not often given the attention they deserve. A person’s ability to walk actively, autonomously, and safely depends greatly on how the lower limbs have been treated from childhood to adulthood. For this reason, allowing babies and children to walk barefoot is one of the fundamental points for integral foot health. Letting your child go barefoot has at least seven benefits:
1. Contributes to the formation of the plantar arch
Growing and strengthening the muscles in the feet will decrease the likelihood of getting flat feet. In the early years of a child’s life, the longitudinal arch of the foot gradually grows, reaching its maximum height in adolescence. For the first three years, children present a flat-footed appearance. This results from the high elasticity and absorption of fatty tissue in the inner part of the feet. However, the arc is already evident by age five and will continue to widen.
Different studies have demonstrated the importance of external factors such as barefooting and wearing shoes when a baby grows to determine how a foot develops the longitudinal arch. Some researchers report that not wearing shoes during the first years of life assists in developing the foot muscles, while rigid shoes interfere with this process. Therefore, the recommendation is to let the baby walk barefoot as often as possible and make sure his footwear is always very flexible.
2. Encourages the development of childish intelligence
Researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid have found that walking barefoot frequently during childhood stimulates the development of some cognitive functions, including proprioceptive development and intelligence. Furthermore, it has been found that children who walk barefoot quite often mature much faster than their contemporaries who are always wearing shoes. In this case, it is caused by direct foot contact with the ground. When it happens, a natural mechanism promotes the transmission of proprioceptive information to the cerebellum, from which emerges different pathways involved in the control of equilibrium and the maintenance of posture.
3. Helps significantly improve school performance
A study conducted by the University of Bournemouth in Britain found that children who are barefoot in class perform better academically than those who are wearing shoes. These results were obtained through a 10-year analysis of thousands of children across 25 countries. In addition, students, who took off their shoes before class, were more focused on the teacher’s instructions, more engaged with school activities, and tended to arrive earlier, indicating motivation.
Scientists explain that going barefoot relaxes children, which allows them to think more clearly when they are learning, which helps them retain information more quickly, resulting in better grades.
4. Strengthens foot muscles
There is evidence that children who walk barefoot for a longer period develop stronger muscles, especially in the feet, which have 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons. Also, they have fewer injuries to the ankles and knees since they have been developing their muscles step by step.
5. Contributes to mental health
Walking barefoot provides peace of mind, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem in children. When children walk barefoot, they do an excellent exercise that helps relieve tension and promotes relaxation. In addition, it stimulates the sensation of freedom, increasing the baby’s confidence and self-esteem. This is due to the soles reflecting within the body. During each step, the natural stimulation helps relieve tensions and induce relaxation. The body’s weight stimulates key points and naturally decreases aggressiveness.
6. Improves body posture
A very common problem in adulthood is poor posture, and walking barefoot from childhood can help prevent it. When a child wears shoes permanently from a young age, long-term postural changes may alter the spine’s natural position.
7. Enhances proprioception
Walking barefoot also helps children recognize textures, surfaces, and ground temperature. It also allows the child to be aware of their own body and its position and how they move in space (thus not colliding with anything or falling). These encourage the development of the nervous system.
Of course, your child should always do this activity under your supervision and on safe ground. Give your baby as much time as possible to experience the world with his bare feet. They will thank you in their adulthood!