Why do children take off their shoes?
Who doesn't enjoy taking a shortcut to avoid driving a few extra kilometres? As adults we can become obsessed with rushing at some point in our lives, with taking that 'IKEA shortcut' and cutting short the natural stages of life. It is a shame that on many occasions it is our children who suffer the consequences of this behaviour. A good example of this is the way in which children start wearing shoes ahead of time. The pre-walking stage is one of the few stages in our lives when we can go barefoot at all hours of the day and shoes are not needed. 👣
In this post we are going to answer the eternal question that often arises for many parents 👨👩: Why do children take off their shoes? Although from our humble point of view we would really like to answer this question: Why babies should not wear shoes?
1- Foot sensitivity
If your little one takes off their shoes, it is because a baby's feet are more sensitive than their hands in the first months of life.
As they grow, this sensitivity decreases, but now their feet are like an antenna connected to the outside world.
When they wear shoes, this sensitivity is lost. When they touch their shoes they are less aware of their feet than before because are not receiving the stimuli in the same way 😟. So they take their shoes off because they want this sensory feeling to return.
To give you an idea of this sensory feeling, put on some kitchen gloves and try to find your keys in your bag or pocket.
2. Body awareness
Sensory input is a vital source of information for your baby and the world around them; another reason why they might take off their shoes.
The proprioceptive sense is inherently linked to their motor skills. Knowing where the different parts of their body are is essential for good coordination . At this stage, babies will generally grab at their feet with their hands and put them in their mouth. This is how your baby explores the limits of their own body.
As Gentil García highlights in his study Preventive Podiatry: barefoot children equal more intelligent children, their experience of new textures, different temperatures and uneven surfaces stimulates their cognitive development.
4- Security and stability
Have you noticed what martial arts athletes wear on their feet? 🤸 You're right...nothing! Barefoot is how we feel more agile and secure...there's no doubt about it! This may be another reason why your little one kicks off their shoes with the force of a NASA rocket 🚀 about to lift off!
Walking barefoot can help children to take care when walking on uneven surfaces because they feel that they are in contact with the earth. It is ironic because how many times have you heard the phrase: "Don't go barefoot because you'll get a cold!" or "If you go barefoot you can hurt your feet"?
Children between the ages of 1 and 2, whose gait is still not stable, keep their heads up for longer when they walk barefoot 👶. This is because they receive more information through their feet so there is less need for them to look down, which is often what makes them lose their balance and fall over 🧠.
5- Foot development
If your little one takes off their shoes, it may be because the shoe doesn't allow their foot to move freely. They might feel pressure on a part of their foot such as their toes.
When they are small, their feet are still forming. You can see in this image how their bones are yet to develop so it is important that they are not compressed at this stage. And another reason why they must be left shoe-free for as long as possible!
Have you heard about the square watermelons that are grown in Japan? 🍉 By placing the fruit in a square container 🧊, they grow by adapting to their environment and taking the shape of the container which prevents their natural development . Well, imagine what could happen if we put a baby's soft feet in the wrong type of environment.
Don't rush to put your baby in their first pair of shoes; only when it is necessary to protect their feet. When the time comes, make sure that their shoes are the closest thing to going barefoot.