Minimalist shoes for kids – why nurture feet from an early age

          One of the hardest things about being a parent is the idea that you might not be providing your kids with all the tools they are going to need in the future in order to live a good life. I want to give you a hand on this by tackling a quite underestimated aspect related to their upbringing, i.e. foot development, and then show you why minimalist shoes for kids are a must for any caring parent.


Taking care of kids from head to.. Toes!

          We all know how wonderful it is for kids to grow up. We see them learn, smile, make new friends, discover new interests and we can’t help but feeling very happy for them. We do our best to provide them with all the psychological and physical tools to help them become even better people than we are. These are tools they will certainly need in the future when it won’t be our job to follow them step by step anymore. Make sure, though, that they’ll be able to take every single step in their life pain-free, literally. The best and most effective solution for this to happen is to act early. Just like learning how to play an instrument at age 5 is easier than doing it at age 50, setting the foundation for proper foot development is better if done when feet are still 100% capable to do so.

The crucial aspects of foot development

          Adult feet are hard and bony. On the other hand, during the first year of life, feet don’t contain any bone yet but just spongy cartilage (this is why they almost feel like soft balls). As years go by, more and more bone structures start forming in response to mechanical and physiological stimuli which also leads to an impressive growth (on average 2 sizes a year from 0-5 years old and 1 size a year till age 12-14 when most bone structures, tendons and ligament have developed to the adult version). Such a rapid development underlies another important aspect to keep in mind, that is, during this initial years feet are extremely sensitive to external factors. If you aren’t too squeamish, I recommend check out the so-called “foot binding”, an old custom, quite common in Asia till a century ago consisting of applying tight binding to the feet of young girls to alter the shape and size of their feet. Just like soft clay, not-fully-developed feet respond to external factors very well. This represents a double-edge sword as the result can vary enormously depending on the way the kid’s feet are treated as (s)he grows.

           In my opinion, kids should be barefoot as much as possible, as this is the best conditions feet can be in (providing it’s safe). Did you notice there is nothing that make kids happier than running around barefoot, on the beach, on the grass, at home, etc.? Have you ever wondered where that feeling of joy and freedom they display so clearly come from? It comes from the fact that in those situations their brain is literally flooded with sensory stimuli.
Hands and feet, with their hundreds of thousands of receptors, can now explore the world to the fullest.
          The whole body responds to these stimuli adapting to them, strengthening muscles and bones in the way evolution wants, and forming a well-balanced and healthy body. To support all this, there is even some scientific evidence showing that scoliosis and other spine issues, so common among kids nowadays, can be caused and/or worsened by modern shoes. Why should that be the case? Well, if you prevent the foundation of your body, i.e. your feet, from sending incorrect or incomplete sensory feedback to the rest of it for years then, it makes complete sense that you can encounter more-or-less serious developmental defects.

Today’s world and the feat of letting feet develop properly

          You might have never thought about it but the word comfort contains the word -fort, which derives from the Latin fortis meaning strong. Therefore, in theory, real comfort should lead to strength. Yet, I have the impression that in today’s world there often seems to be a large gap between what we consider comfortable and what actually makes us strong(er). Modern shoes are the perfect example. Here is process: 1) take kid’s feet, 2) put them in modern shoes thinking that having lots of padding under their feet must be comfortable for them (because it is for us, right?), 3) have them wear these kinds of shoes till they are teenagers and 4) voilá, barely functional, injury-prone and padded shoe-addicted feet are served, along with premature back- and knee-pain.

          This all started from that initial idea of comfort. If the logic holds, something truly comfortable should naturally create something strong. But, as far as it seems, it doesn’t. Don’t you think that this very idea of comfort is a bit artificial? If so, why is that? My answer to this question is the following: the lobby of (running) shoes.
There is no better marketing strategies than getting millions and millions of kids used to wearing modern, ultra-padded, reinforced shoes, starting as early as possible in life. The outcome is that when they are grown-ups, their brain will be perfectly rewired to associate comfort to those kinds of shoes. Plus, the feet will be so underdeveloped to be able to function properly without highly technological oddly-shaped, spongy insoles. It’s so ironical that instead of making our feet fortis (= strong), we created shoes that really look like armors, ready to be sent to a deadly war with the unaware soldier who wears them.

The secret lies in using the right tools: minimalist shoes

          Fortunately, nowadays people have found a way to reverse the trend that is turning our kids into adults with underdeveloped feet. I am talking about minimalist shoes. Even though they are becoming more and more trendy among adults, the fact that kids need them (and need them even more than adults) is not well-understood among parents yet. The reason for this probably has to do with the proven fact that minimalist shoes help your old, broken feet to get back to life (check this post). Therefore, if we assume (wrongly) that kids must have perfect feet because… they’re kids, then why give them minimalist shoes? Well, needless to say that prevention is the best cure. Feet develop into perfect feet in the right conditions. The best conditions possible are created with lots of barefoot time and with minimalist shoes that offer the right amount of protection and at the same time an experience as close as possible to being barefoot.

 

If a healthy diet, lots of outdoor activities and nurturing their mind are among the top priorities for your kids, maybe it’s time to add minimalist shoes too. You won’t regret it.

Live wise. Live in motion.

Silvio

PS Get your kids minimalist shoes here.

PPS Please share your thoughts with me.

12 thoughts on “Minimalist shoes for kids – why nurture feet from an early age”

  1. Wow, This is a great article. I was looking for an article like this for a long time. In order for a child to grow, we have to look after everything from parents. The fact is that taking care of a child’s feet is one of the most important things. After reading this article I got to know and learn many things. Many thanks to the author of the article for his article I have benefited greatly by reading this.

    Thanks again for sharing this informative post. I will share the post with others. 😊

    Reply
    • Exactly, parents are a sort of superheroes who have to learn as they teach 🙂 Thanks for spreading the word and contributing to help other parents!

      Reply
  2. Thank you so much for giving us this wonderful article. Your article is really very informative and I have gained a lot of knowledge which is very helpful to me .I’ve taken care of my baby’s feet from an early age .Taking care of your baby’s toes is very important .We all know how wonderful it is for kids to grow up, and shoes are an important aspect of developing footwear .Minimalist shoes have played a vital role in keeping children’s feet healthy .

    I think every parent reading your article will find some important information and will certainly share with you their new experience .Can I share your article on my social media?

    Reply
    • Hi Shanta, please feel free to share on social media and spread to word. Unfortunately, too many people are unaware about these issues.
      I’m very glad to hear that we are on the same page about taking care of our kids from head to toes 🙂

      Reply
  3. Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article among us. I appreciated this post very much. Here you have discussed in detail about the Minimalist shoes for kids. Yes, Shoes are very beneficial for the kids. These factors are effective for children’s Physical Development. Your information is very significant for parents. I think this article is useful for parents. I want everyone to know about the Minimalist shoes for kids. So that everyone can benefit. I learned a lot about the Minimalist shoes for kids from this article. I’m so impressed. Thanks for presenting beautifully.
    Lastly, I would like to share this post on my social media so that everyone can know about the Minimalist shoes for kids.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Tanvir, thanks for helping spread the word. We need more parents to learn about these issues and allow their kids to become grown-ups in the best shape possible. Stay tuned for more eye-opening posts.

      Reply
  4. It will be out of place if I don’t thank you enough for taking out time to write on such an amazing article, it’s been educating and has actually exposed me to one aspect we never pay much attention to . There’s a saying that Children are the leaders of tomorrow, so how we actually take care of them from the head to toes actually matters a lot. But please is there any online platform where one can actually get good minimalist shoes for kids?

    Reply
    • Hi Sheddy, please check out the Minimalist shoes section where you can find “foot-picked” shoes that I personally tested and loved. Be careful of fake minimalist/barefoot shoes out there that can be even more harmful than regular shoes. Please feel free to reach out to me again should you need any advice.  

      Reply
  5. I must say this article took me by surprise in a rather enlightening way. As someone who wants to provide the best for my child, a good pair of shoes is definitely on the list. Nothing fancy but they must serve to protect the feet from harm. I’ve never really considered the effect on postures and such. My kid never complains about feeling uncomfortable so it never crossed my mind. 

    I am curious to know – what does a minimalist shoe look like? Does it have all the ergonomic features or is it just a plain simple shoe?

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy, kids’ body adapts very easily to external conditions, this is why they’re unlikely to complain about shoes (most of the time they don’t even complain about their eyesight..). The problem arises when they get older and their body has assumed a certain conformation. Therefore, it’s better let those feet get strong when they are still young.
      Please check out the minimalist shoes section for more info. They don’t have any ergonomic features because healthy feet don’t need any extra support. Be careful of fake minimalist shoes out there that can be more harmful than regular shoes. The ones I recommend have been “foot-picked” and tested personally 🙂 Stay tuned for more interesting posts.

      Reply
  6. I can relate to what you say in regard to the uncertainty of being able to provide our beloved ones all their needs.

    Thanks for sharing this article about minimalist shoes. I must confess I’ve read some about barefoot walking which relates to the same principle, but I was not aware of this as an intermediate alternative.  

    I’m the father of 2 baby girls (2 and 4 years old) and I’ve decided to leave them walking and playing around barefoot almost intuitively. Thas was a topic of discussion with their mother. The fact of being girls makes my case even worst. We need to take advantage of the fact they’re not required by society to use any specific type of shoes as it will happen once thy grow-up.

    Great post!

    Reply
    • Hi Juan, I’m glad I could shed some light on a totally viable alternative to barefoot walking. Minimalist shoes really bridge the gap between harmful regular running shoes and somewhat inconvenient barefoot walking/running. Fortunately, the brands I recommend carry a broad variety of models that can be suitable for any kind of social situation. Thanks again and stay tuned for more!

      Reply

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