Here’s What Happens to Your Kids’ Feet When They Stop Wearing Shoes All Day, According to a Podiatrist

kid running around barefoot

Real talk: Even before COVID-19 upended our lives, our kids spent most of the summer running around barefoot. But now that we’re limiting our trips to the playground, grocery store and pool, well, we honestly don’t even know where their shoes are anymore. (Maybe in the basement? Or under the bed?)

We recently found out that walking barefoot on hard surfaces for an extended amount of time is bad for us because it allows the foot to collapse (which can lead to issues like bunions and hammertoes). But do the same rules apply for little people? We tapped Dr. Miguel Cunha from Gotham Footcare for his expert take. 

Is it OK for my kids to run around barefoot all day?

Fortunately, yes. “I recommend having children walk around barefoot at home especially on carpeted surfaces as doing so can help promote the circulation and development of healthy muscles and bones of a child’s feet,” says Dr. Cunha. “Walking barefoot can also help improve sensitivity, balance, strength and coordination overall.” 

Got it. And what about letting my kids go barefoot outside? 

Again, the news here is good (with a few guidelines). “Children can walk around barefoot outside with caution,” says Dr. Cunha. “I recommend wearing shoes on hot and sunny days, where the asphalt or sand can cause serious burns to the feet or in unsafe environments where broken glass may be present.” If you do let the kids run around barefoot, don’t forget to put sunscreen on your child’s feet to help prevent sunburn. (Psst: Here are seven great sunscreens for kids). And if you go to a public area like a pool, both kids and adults should avoid going barefoot to avoid contracting fungal, bacterial, or viral infections such as warts. And interestingly, the same advice applies for wet grass—so make sure to slip some shoes on your kid before setting off the sprinkler in the backyard, OK?

Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Wear Shoes At Home, According to a Podiatrist

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...