How to Choose Barefoot Shoes for Kids!
As parents, we try our best to support healthy development in all aspects of our children’s lives. We make sure they eat fruits and veggies, encourage learning and take them outside to play. However, one frequently overlooked aspect of child development is their foot health! You may have heard the phrase, “barefoot is best”, and the science certainly backs this up. While we can encourage lots of barefoot, outdoor play, it can be hard to choose the best barefoot shoes for kids that mimic these conditions!
Here are 3 features of Jan & Jul’s Sock Shoes and Knit Shoes that are a must when choosing barefoot shoes for kids:
1. Flexible, Thin Soles
Did you know that our feet can sense and provide important information about the environment to our brain? Especially important for kids, this sensory input strengthens our “hidden sense” – proprioception. This is our body’s ability to tell us where our limbs are in space without looking, and helps us know how much pressure to use while walking, climbing trees, hugging friends, etc. When proprioception is out of balance, kids might have trouble sitting upright, managing their bodies, and even calming down!
Shoes with thick, rigid soles block our proprioception, and can interfere with a child’s natural gait and weaken muscles. This may lead to hip, back or foot injuries over time. When choosing barefoot shoes for kids, look for thin, flexible soles. Test if the shoes are lightweight, and if you can easily roll up and twist the soles. Both Jan & Jul’s Knit and Sock Shoes pass with flying colours, and you can rest assured your children will experience the benefits from the flexible soles.
2. Wide Toe Box
Have you ever noticed adult feet are “shoe-shaped”, as opposed to most young kids, whose toes naturally spread wide? This malformation comes from years of wearing narrow shoes, and all for fashion’s sake! What originally drew me to choose Jan & Jul’s barefoot shoes for kids was that they are actually “foot-shaped”, perfect for little toes to splay out for natural walking, running, climbing, and foot development.
The Sock Shoes and Knit Shoes are a great fit for all foot types, including wide and high-volume feet. For kids with extra-wide feet, the Sock-Shoes may be a better fit as they are slightly wider in the toe.
3. Zero Drop Soles
Zero drop is a term to describe flat shoes, where there is no difference in height between the heel and the toe. When the heel is elevated, the entire body has to compensate in order to stand upright. Just imagine what this does to a young, growing body over time! No wonder so many adults these days have back and hip problems. Luckily, Jan & Jul’s Sock Shoes have flat soles, and the Knit Shoes are nearly zero-drop, encouraging a natural gait similar to walking barefoot.
Kids are quite adaptable, and it’s never too late to make a few easy (and affordable!) switches in the type of footwear we purchase, thanks to Jan & Jul’s line of barefoot shoes for kids!
Tinkergarten Nature Program Leader, Photographer, and Mama of Two
Updated January 12, 2023