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I love to share studies that I’ve found… and as an early childhood development therapist, I read and analyze studies a lot.  I recently came across many studies that show being barefoot makes you smarter. 

I am always researching the latest studies and trends on how to improve child development, increase cognitive abilities, boost early brain development, and focus on positive mental health, amount other things.

Yesterday I came across an interesting study that showed that being barefoot benefits brain development. I know that early experiences of different textures during critical periods of a child’s life are important, but the proof that it helps a baby’s brain and a child’s brain is the icing on the cake.

I already knew that infants and young children learned a lot from being barefoot in the early years while they play.

Why is being barefoot so good for you?

It helps them understand spatial awareness, it gives them a sense of different textures under their feet (this can be great therapy for a sensory child), and it helps their feet develop naturally instead of conforming to the shape of the shoes…

but did you know that it also makes them smarter, happier & healthier?  (So does playing a musical instrument!)

barefoot kids are smarter, happier & healthier
According to author Rae Pica,  an education consultant specializing in the development and education of the whole child and children’s physical activity, being barefoot benefits everyone.   Rae has found scientific evidence that proves that being barefoot is better.

“Among other things, it’s important to the development of the nervous system and to optimal brain development as well!

Turns out the feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain. Covering them in shoes, therefore, means we’re eliminating all kinds of opportunities for children’s brains to grow new neural connections.”

What about germs?

She goes on to say that all of the concerns about germs and injury are valid, but that our skin is “designed to keep pathogens out.  We’re much more likely to become ill from touching something with our hands.

Being barefoot actually toughens up the bottom of the feet, so unless children are walking through a construction site full of nails, the likelihood that they’ll injure themselves is slim.”

Kids who go barefoot are smarter, happier & healthier!

Another study found that adults and children alike were found to benefit from walking barefoot on any natural outdoor surface (not sidewalks or streets, but more like grass, sand, and dirt).
MindBodyGreen suggested that it makes us healthier.  They found that between The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, among other publications, there is a lot of evidence to prove that walking barefoot is good for you now and in the long term.

Walking barefoot can add years to your life

According to those studies, walking barefoot can lower toxic stress,  regulate stress responses, and boost immunity.   In fact, when you walk around barefoot, you are actually decreasing the risk of heart disease.   On top of that, you are helping to regulate the nervous system,  lower the risk of diabetes, and even improve your skin.

Many of these benefits add years of life to you and your family.

Barefoot children are happier. 

In another study by Natural Child Magazine, Dr. Kacie Flegal, D.C., suggests that when children are barefoot, it allows a development of higher brain centers, which allows for better problem-solving skills, language skills, social skills, regulation of emotions, and confidence.

Feet are thought to be the baby’s preferred receptors.   This contributes to the development of the baby’s intelligence.

barefoot kids are smarter, happier & healthier
All in all, I’d say if your kids forget to wear shoes outside when they run out to play – don’t fret!  Get out there with them and feel the sand between your toes. 😉

As the old saying goes… The dirtier the feet, the happier the heart! 

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. One of our family’s favorite traditions is our nightly “little piggies” foot massage. Every night before bed, I inspect their feet while I play “This little piggy,” “Five little pumpkins”, or “This little monkey found an egg.” I gently stretch and move each toe separately and stroke the bottoms of their feet. It really makes a huge difference to their ability to fall asleep at night and wake refreshed. For those times when you need shoes (like the grocery store or school, walking where there might be broken glass, or when it’s really cold outside), I’ve found my children are much happier when I get shoes or boots that are foot-shaped (wide toe-boxes) that don’t pinch their pinky toes.

  2. So cute! We keep our kids barefoot almost all the time and give them a bubblebath at the end of the day. We play “Hungry, Hungry Wolves” and nibble their toes. They giggle and squeal and think it’s hilarious!

  3. I’m always walking around barefoot in my backyard and around my parents farmhouse. Walking barefoot gives me a sense of freedom and it makes me feel grounded with the earth and allows me to meditate and feel relaxed.