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Is Barefoot Best for Toddlers? Taking Steps in the Right Direction – First Walkers Answers

Is Barefoot Best for Toddlers? Taking Steps in the Right Direction

Ditch the shoes? Not so fast. Explore the surprising benefits of barefoot play for toddlers, plus safety tips for tiny adventurers.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Caitlin Snethlage
Edited by Caitlin Snethlage

Published February 13, 2024.

A toddler playing barefoot on the beach.

Going barefoot offers surprising benefits for toddlers beyond feeling the grass between their toes, like developing stronger foot muscles and sensory awareness.

So, should you ditch the shoes altogether? Not quite. Let's explore the benefits and considerations of barefoot play and how to strike a healthy balance for kids.

» Learn to manage your kid's stinky feet

Benefits of Walking Barefoot: Is It Good for Toddlers?

  • Improved proprioception and balance: Feeling the ground directly can improve sensory feedback and awareness of foot placement, potentially leading to better balance.
  • Strengthening foot muscles: Barefoot walking engages smaller foot muscles that might be neglected when wearing shoes, encouraging healthy foot development.
  • Reduced stress: It can be relaxing and grounding to walk barefoot. The sensory input from feeling different textures and temperatures can stimulate and connect your toddler to the environment.

Safety Tips for Barefoot Toddlers

Before your little explorer sets off on their barefoot adventure, remember safety first. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Outdoor environments: Always inspect the environment for sharp objects and uneven terrain before letting your toddler play. Guide them to safe areas for barefoot walking—soft grass or sandy areas. Also, have closed-toe sandals or lightweight shoes as a backup. 

  • Hot and Cold Extremes: Avoid prolonged barefoot exposure on scorching pavements or freezing surfaces. In these environments, choose sandals or well-insulated boots as needed.

  • Hygiene: Ensure your toddler stays clear of any areas with potential contaminants like stagnant water, public restrooms, or animal waste. Always encourage foot washing after barefoot walking.

Tip: Encourage barefoot walking under supervision at home and use well-fitting and supportive footwear in all outdoor environments.

A Balanced Barefoot Approach

When encouraging barefoot walking, a balanced approach is key. It's best combined with proper footwear to ensure protection and support whenever needed. You can explore the First Walkers range of supportive shoes for uneven terrain, cold weather, or outdoor activities for happy and healthy little feet.


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