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Science Says: Stay Bare Down There

Today my son hit a milestone I didn’t think we’d see for several more years: his very first hole-in-the-sock.
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My mom laughed as I told her about this monumental moment and said maybe it was time to put some shoes on those little socky feet.

But it turns out, science thinks that maybe I should not only not buy those stupidly expensive slip-ons he’ll “wear” for 3 months before growing out of them but ditch the socks as well.

Did you know that our feet are some of the most sensory-rich parts of our bodies? According to Dr. Kacie Flegal, wearing shoes can inhibit our proprioceptive and vestibular systems which are critical to instinctively learning about our bodies and the space around us, movement, and balance—all extremely important parts of learning to walk. When those sensory systems are blocked by socks and shoes, we’re also blocking neurological pathways that not only help us recognize basic concepts like pressure and texture, but more important functions like emotional control and social interaction.

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Pretty sweet!

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Many podiatrists encourage going barefoot from an early age whenever possible and safe. I mean, take it easy on the Lego-treading. But definitely try other sensory games for those little piggies, too—like walking through wet grass or a squigging your baby’s toes in a bowl of those weird boba tea balls—and let the neurological pathways light up!

Oh, and don’t forget to bare those soles sometimes too, Mama—apparently we can re-center our brains with a little foot-on-earth action, too.

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