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Why Choose Barefoot Shoes for Children?

Here at Reima, we want to empower families to enjoy and explore the wonder of the outdoors. That means keeping kids protected from the elements while also keeping them comfortable and allowing them to move freely! Barefoot shoes sometimes called minimalist shoes, have some major benefits for kids with growing feet. Let's explore those benefits together and help you choose the best barefoot shoes for your kids!

Benefits of Barefoot Shoes for Toddlers & Kids

Our human foot evolved from our ancestors walking barefoot, which means our feet aren't actually meant to wear shoes! But of course, we want to protect our children's feet from sharp rocks, hot pavement, or anything else that could harm them. That's where kids barefoot shoes come in. They are designed to work with our body's natural feedback systems to improve balance and stability, enhance coordination, promote natural foot growth and lower the chances of muscular and skeletal issues later in life.

Improved Balance and Stability

Most of our modern shoes are highly padded and have what's called a toe drop, which means that the heel of the shoe is higher than the toe. In fact, for many years it was believed that a harder-soled, sturdier shoe helped babies and toddlers with their balance and posture, but research now shows that the opposite is true. Heavy padding, hard soles and even slight toe drops can change a child's natural walking pattern and make it harder for kids to balance and stabilize their movements. Barefoot shoes have a thin, flexible sole and wide toe box which allow a child to receive important feedback from how their feet feel on the ground, improving their posture and balance!

Enhanced Sensory Feedback

Did you know that our feet have 33 joints and important nerve endings that communicate information to our brains?? When that feedback loop is hindered by stiff shoes that don't allow our feet to move naturally, our brain isn't getting all the information it needs about how to move through our environment.

For example, if a child is climbing at a playground, or hiking up an incline, the sensation in their feet is communicating a mental picture to the brain, which helps the brain tell the rest of the body what to do to stay safe! Because barefoot shoes have a thin, flexible sole, the full mental picture can travel freely to the brain. This is especially important for older babies and toddlers learning to walk because it gives them a greater awareness of their bodies and significantly improves their coordination.

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Natural Foot Growth

Another reason we love barefoot shoes for kids is that they allow for a child's foot to grow and develop naturally. Many shoes are tapered as you move toward the toes, but our toes are actually meant to be splayed out wider to allow for a wider range of motion. Similar to the enhanced sensory feedback, natural foot growth is especially critical for growing feet. Barefoot shoes for toddlers and kids have a wide toe bed, which gives them an opportunity to fully develop all the muscles in the foot, which can mean less injuries, less back pain, less joint pain and overall increased mobility as they get older!

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Choosing the Right Barefoot Shoes for Toddlers & Kids

Wearing barefoot shoes has clear benefits for kids, but how do you go about choosing the right barefoot shoes for YOUR little ones? First, it's important to know what makes a barefoot shoe a true barefoot shoe.

Thinking of barefoot shoes might conjure up images of minimalist shoes that look like gloves for your feet, but contrary to what many people think, barefoot shoes can look just like a normal shoe! But there are some key features that set barefoot shoes apart from typical shoes and provide maximum benefits to your kids.

Proper Size and Fit

Barefoot shoes should have a wide toe bed to give the foot space to grow naturally and for all the muscles in the foot to develop properly. Check to make sure the heel is not sliding out the back of the shoe. The fit should be snug, but not tight. If the shoe is causing blisters or irritation, it's time to size up! All of our Reima shoes come with a removable Happy Fit insert that help ensure you have the perfect fit!

Flexible Sole and Minimal Support

In addition to the wide toe bed, barefoot shoes should also have a thin, flexible sole (ideally less than 6 mm) and zero toe drop - meaning the shoe is completely level. The thin sole enables that sensory input needed for the feedback loop to the brain we learned about earlier!

It's also important that the sole is flexible enough to allow the foot to move freely and engage all the muscles of the foot. It's that full range of motion that helps to develop both the muscles in the foot itself and the muscles of the leg, setting kids up for great posture, healthy joints and less injuries.

Durable and Lightweight Materials

We fully believe that there are times when kids should be completely barefoot! They should have an opportunity to squish their toes in some mud, run through the sprinklers or slide their feet under warm sand, but it's also important that we keep them safe and protected from harm, which is why Reima developed our own barefoot shoe designs.

Reima's barefoot shoes for toddlers and kids are made of vegan materials, with a thin, rubber sole that grips the ground, and a lightweight knit on top that is comfortable and breathable, but also strong and durable enough for everyday wear. And, as always, all of our gear is nontoxic, fluorocarbon free and safe for kids!

We love Reima barefoot shoes as an everyday shoe for school and daycare because they are light and breathable enough to keep kids comfortable and are a good minimalist option for kids that may have strong preferences about footwear and/or sensory processing challenges. Plus, all our shoes for kids are easy to put on and off, fostering independence and making your life as a parent a little easier!

Barefoot Shoes for Toddlers & Kids FAQs

Q: What exactly are barefoot or minimalist shoes, and how are they different from regular shoes?

A: Barefoot shoes by Reima are designed to mimic the feeling of walking barefoot while providing protection and support. They have a thin, flexible sole that allows the foot to move naturally, promoting better posture and balance. Unlike regular shoes with elevated heels and narrow toe boxes, barefoot shoes have a wide toe box and zero-drop design, which encourages proper foot alignment and strengthens foot muscles.

Q: Are Reima barefoot shoes suitable for outdoor activities and rough terrains?

A: Absolutely! Reima's barefoot shoes are designed for active lifestyles and outdoor adventures. Our signature Barefoot shoe, Astelu, has a rubber sole that offers excellent traction on various terrains, making it a perfect fit for hiking, trail running, and exploring nature.

Q: Can I use Reima barefoot shoes for water activities?

A: Yes, you can! Reima offers our Rantaan sandals that easily accommodate water activities. They have a polka dot mesh top and grippy rubber sole that dries quickly. With toe protection and a secure fit, they are ideal for beach days, water parks, and other aquatic adventures.

Q: Are barefoot shoes suitable for children's growing feet?

A: Absolutely! Reima's barefoot shoes are thoughtfully crafted with growing feet in mind. Both our Astelu sneaker and Rantaan sandal feature an anatomical shape that provides enough room for natural toe splay, contributing to proper foot development. All of our barefoot shoe designs have zero toe drop and a wide toe box, allowing the foot to lay flat and all muscles in the foot to develop properly.

Q: Are Reima barefoot shoes eco-friendly?

A: Yes, Reima is committed to sustainability and eco-conscious manufacturing. All of our materials are carefully chosen, and our Reima barefoot shoes are vegan, fluorocarbon free, non-toxic and ethically sourced. By choosing Reima barefoot shoes, you're not only supporting your foot health but also contributing to a more sustainable future.

Caring for Barefoot Shoes

All of Reima's barefoot shoes come with a water and dirt repellant finish, but inevitably we know they will get dirty! The best way to care for your barefoot shoes is by using a soapy rag or sponge on the exterior of the shoe and letting them air dry. You can remove the insole and soak in warm soapy water, rinse in cold water, and then leaving them to air dry as well.

Regular Cleaning and Drying

How often you clean your child's barefoot shoes will depend on a few different factors! If your child is primarily wearing the shoes to school or around town, they will require less cleaning. If your child prefers not to wear socks with their barefoot shoes, you may have to wash the insoles more often as odor may build up more quickly.

If your child is wearing their barefoot shoes regularly for outdoor adventures like hiking, water activities, etc., you may have to clean them more frequently. To help combat odor, you can sprinkle some baking soda or cornstarch inside the shoe and let it sit overnight. (Mom hack: put the baking soda inside a sock and place the sock in the shoe for an even easier clean up!) You can also lightly spray the shoes with diluted white vinegar.

Storing and Maintaining Shape

Reima's barefoot shoes are easy to store and maintain because of the flexible sole and breathable fabric! Simply keep them in a well-ventilated area and make sure to allow them to dry out thoroughly if they get wet.

Knowing When to Replace

Our barefoot shoes for toddlers and kids are durable and made to last! We hope you'll be able to pass shoes on to younger siblings as your child grows out of them. You'll know it's time to size up when the child's toes are no longer able to splay freely (check your child's pinky toe when they remove the shoes for any redness or irritation), or by using the removable happy fit insole that will help you determine if the length of the shoe is too small.

Embrace the Freedom of Barefoot Shoes for Happy, Healthy Feet

Here at Reima, we believe in equipping kids for the world to come. That means we help families embrace the here and now through experiencing the wonder of childhood, and we also have an eye toward their future happiness and health.

Our barefoot shoes give your little ones an opportunity to get the full benefit of enjoying the outdoors while also setting them up for a bright future. Shop our full selection below.

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