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How keeping little feet in the buff helps babies’ brains and nervous systems develop.

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In her Pathways article, Barefootin’, Dr. Kacie Flegal teaches us the importance of allowing our babies to explore the world naturally withoutwearing shoes and socks. She explains the function of our two sensory systems, the proprioceptive and vestibular system, and how they directly contribute to the development of our neuromuscular strength, spatial orientation, balance and coordination.

When our little ones wear shoes, she says, it inhibits their sensory development by restricting the movement of their feet while creating a barrier that prevents the proprioceptors in the feet from feeling the terrain. Dr. Flegal points out that the sole of the foot is an extremely sensitive part of the body with as many proprioceptors as the entire spinal column! She encourages us to take off our baby’s shoes and our own shoes as much as possible to explore and enjoy the stimulating sensation of the grass, leaves, and earth beneath our feet.

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