Should Toddlers Walk Barefoot?

Your little one’s body is growing and changing all the time, but, sometimes, things don’t go quite right on their own, and they may need a little help ensuring their physical body grows strong, healthy and pain-free. We spoke to osteopath, Roxane Borghini, to learn more about the methods she uses, and how you can help your child’s growth at home. 

So, first up, what is osteopathy?

Roxane: “Osteopathy is a safe, holistic, non-invasive manual medicine, based on the principle that wellbeing depends on all parts of the body functioning together in a smooth manner.”

Is it a suitable form of treatment for babies?

R: “Osteopathy is well adapted to babies. It uses gentle techniques including Cranial Osteopathy - a very light touch and gentle movement - to help restore balance within the baby's body, relieving mechanical strains that may have remained from birth or delivery.

An osteopathic assessment of a baby after birth can help identify any potential problems resulting from the traumatic transition from life inside to the outside world, and address/prevent the development of disorders, such as:

  • Difficulty feeding
  • Colic
  • Reflux
  • Disturbed sleeping pattern
  • Difficulty passing wind
  • Plagiocephaly (flattening of the head)
  • Torticollis
  • Unsettledness

Furthermore, as the child grows and starts crawling and walking, osteopathic treatment can help facilitate healthy function in all structures of the changing body, by freeing up muscles and joints, improving blood flow and maintaining body symmetry for a balanced growth.”

Of course, parents want to help ensure their little ones achieve good physical development. You’re an advocate for walking barefoot in the home - can you tell us more?

R: “Recent research has shown that keeping babies and toddlers barefoot, at home, can benefit the development of their feet mechanics and motor skills learning.

Poor footwear can affect how a toddler uses the muscles, ligaments, bones in his feet, and therefore, have an impact on the gait; shoes can be too stiff, too rigid, with no flexibility at the sole and too much heel raise.

Letting your little one barefoot at home, in sand or on grass (a variety of flat textured surfaces) can help:

  • improve sensory input
  • improve proprioception (awareness of their body in space and perception of the ground)
  • improve coordination and balance
  • improve foot mechanics
  • improve good posture
  • strengthen the arches of the feet, toes, and lower legs

Walking barefoot can help create emotional stability and increase feelings such as familiarity and self-confidence, so encourage your little one to explore the world!”

Anything to add?

R: “If you have any concerns about your child’s walking or feet development, do not hesitate to talk to your paediatrician, medical practitioner and osteopath.”

You can learn more about Roxane’s work by heading to her website – www.om-therapy.com – or following her on Instagram: @rbosteopathy
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