BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
I notice lots of moms in public carry their babies
barefoot with their infant's bare feet dangling out of
snugglies, regardless if it's really chilly outside. I cringe
when I see the baby's feet red due to the cold weather but can't
help noticing the moms do dress appropriately for the weather.
Why don't they cover the babies feet? I hesitate to say
anything because I don't want to offend, but I can't help hoping
the infant's feet will be covered with something warm. Is it a
cultural thing? I'm from a different culture and hope someone
can provide me with better understanding. Thank you
I will use my most recent favorite reply: Live and let live. (Thanks
to the person who wrote that with regards to overweight family members,
this will be my new BPN
Yes it is a cultural thing. You should just let it go. Telling parents
they're doing things wrong, unless it's a truly dangerous situation, is
rude. As far as I know, no baby has ever been seriously injured by
having cold feet for a few minutes. Personally, I cringe when I see
babies wearing bunting and hats and blankets when it's 60 degrees
outside -- it's overkill, we live in Berkeley, not the North Pole (or
New England for that matter), but I don't say anything because it
wouldn't do anything positive.
You must be referring to my daughter! My daughter is often barefoot -
it's been warm enough until recently and other times I put them on and
they fall off or she takes them off and other times I just forget. It's
not cultural unless you consider being a new mom with plenty of more
important things to keep track of it's own culture
But I want to answer your question with this question (and the reason I
felt I HAD to respond to this): Why are you worried about the comfort of
my child? As a new mom I get so much unwanted advice from people like
you (i.e., complete strangers!): ''Why isn't your child wearing a hat?''
''Your child looks uncomfortable in her stroller.'' ''Why are you using
a Bjorn - it's so bad for you.'' I think high-healed shoes look
uncomfortable and unhealthy but I don't tell women that. So why do
people want to tell me about the comfort of my baby? Doesn't a mother
know best? Don't people like you have other things to worry themselves
with? There truly are children in the Bay Area being abused - my
barefoot child is not one of them.
Barefoot and Proud
I think new moms get enough unsolicited (and often unwanted) ''advice''
that this is something you should just keep to yourself about. If you
REALLY feel the need to say something, you could approach it from the
''oh, did you know your baby's feet are sticking out of the blankt?''
sort of thing. That way they can say ''yes, thank you'' if they want
them sticking out or ''no, thanks for letting me know!'' and stick them
back in the blankie.
You never know if the mom is so frazzled that the feet thing on the
baby gets overlooked, or... not. :) -Even I'd forget my head if it
wasn't attached some times.
Maybe the baby's socks fell off. Mind your own business? I think that's
the M.O. around here... People do their own thing.
Barefoot a lot, the whole family
My son, when he was a baby, was nearly always barefoot -- mostly because
he would remove his socks in very short order if he had any access at
all to his feet. If he was in his stroller or carseat, the socks would
last max 5 minutes. So I gave up.
He seemed to be entirely comfortable without them; his feet may have
looked red but he felt warm and he's always been healthy.
On the flip side, I got scolded a lot for his bare feet. I always
wanted to say (but never did), that if the person doing the scolding
could figure out a way to keep the socks on, then they'd have the right
to say something about it.
Now he's a 5-year-old who sheds his jacket the minute he gets out of the
guess he's like me: I don't get cold easily, and am actually very
comfortable at 50-60 degrees. I always tell people my definition of
cold doesn't kick in until water freezes Karen
Those babies are probably barefoot because their parents haven't yet
discovered Robeez! As a baby, my kid would always be pulling off a sock
or dropping a shoe...it was easier to let him go barefoot and as long as
he was comfortable in my Baby-Bjorn, I let it be.
Better to assume that the baby's parent knows best how to take care of
his/her baby, than for you to make some well-meaning remark about how
the baby's feet should be covered. I'm sure that more often than not,
your remarks will be met with annoyance rather than appreciation.
If you don't see any signs of gross neglect, let it be Fan of Robeez
I don't have an answer for you; only that you are not alone in your
observation. I've always noticed this too! I truly think it's that
mothers just don't think about their babies feet being cold. Personally
I don't ever let my baby have bare feet outside unless it's very warm
Also, many mothers feel it's difficult keeping socks on the babies feet
as they get pulled off. Maybe that is the reason.
Maybe the child likes to be barefoot and refuses socks. Or maybe the
socks fell off somewhere in transit. Parents know their babies and do
the absolute best they can. Try to remember that parents can't attend
to every detail all the time. A barefoot baby seems minor in the scheme
A cultural thing???
Maybe. There certainly weren't a whole lotta barefeet babies way north where I
used to work - with winter (*cold* winter...) most of the year.
I'm a Nanny, with babies/toddlers who are barefeet most of the year, and both them
and myself loooove it! Being able to have the li'l ones running around, and
learning to walk, without uncomfortable and/or slippery footwear (yaya, Robeez are
hehe) is *such* a blessing, you have no idea...
California babies have the chance to be barefeet, and I'm happy to see how many
Moms & Dads are taking advantage of this.
I know ''my'' kids's Mom has gotten questions about her barefeet babies as well.
How rude! You know, even new Moms & Dads have a pretty good idea how their kids
are doing, and implying they don't... Wow, that takes some nerve, or terribly bad
manners, in my opinion. Or is that a cultural thing?
And for the record, ''my'' babies are the healthiest kids you've ever seen. Not
ONE day sick, knock on wood.
I can't speak for others, but both of our kids *hated* wearing
shoes and would often pull off the shoes and socks (if they were
easily removable) or cry and cry and cry until we took them off.
The right thing to do? I dunno, but for us, their frustration
with the shoes seemed to outweigh the cold.
We had barefoot babies...
Hi, I didn't see the original post but I am guessing it was about
babes in arms? The only reason I ask is because with regard to
the safety of going barefoot outdoors, my highschool biology
teacher told me people can contract worms through their feet by
going barefoot outdoors. Aside from other obvious risks like
broken glass, I just wanted to mention this with regard to kids
going barefoot in parks and areas where animals may defecate. A
cheap pair of water sandals from Target seems like a safer
I am asking this question as a favor to my mother, who is obsessed with the
fact that I let my 5 yr.old daughter go barefoot as much as she wants.
Unless there clearly is glass, nails, dog poop, etc., on the ground (or a
good possibility), I let her walk from a parking lot to a curb if she
doesn't want to put on her shoes, and things like that. My mom is sure
that she's going to pick up some strange parasite and remembers reading an
article in the New York Times. Does anyone have any comments?
Given the choice between my mother's opinions and my daughter's stubborn
desire to go barefoot - I also let my daughter win. She is 6 and often
refuses to put her shoes on for the trip from afterschool to the car or
from my parent's house to the car - and I truly believe that she is not
being exposed to any dangerous diseases. The biggest threat is stepping on
something sharp and as I am with her when she takes these barefoot walks, I
try to keep my eyes open for the proverbial rusty nail. To my mother I say
- you try to get her to put her shoes on - and that usually ends the
There is a the chance that children can pick up hookworms from
walking barefoot - hookworms are a very small intestinal parasite
that can actually penetrate the skin. They are fairly common in cats
and dogs, and can be picked up in places pets frequent. My mother
used to give us gross red worm medicine every summer because she
was worried about hookworms, but maybe they are more common in
warmer climates like Alabama, where I grew up. There is an interesting
article about children, pets, and parasitic worms here:
Also, there is the danger of glass. I never minded my children
going barefoot anywhere except on sidewalks. But I had a child
who insisted on running barefoot down the sidewalk despite my
warnings to walk, and to look. He stepped on a big piece of
glass and after that he never ran down the sidewalk barefooted!
Ginger, I think you are right about hookworm being a problem in the South.
I recall learning about it in my college microbiology class. I don't think
there are problem parasites around here. I grew up in L.A. and my mother is a
nurse who still keeps up on public health issues. I'm sure I would have heard
about such things by now if they existed along the California coast.
I habitually wear very light sandals, a habit I picked up when I lived on a
boat in the tropics. In sandals, I stay out of tall grass and muddy areas.
Hookworm (needs moist soil) and one type of roundworm can still be picked
up from infected US soils, and of course fleas and ticks (OK, ticks usually
DROP onto you!) can carry parasites that infect humans. The sandals have
made pregnancy a lot more comfortable than it otherwise would have been,
and by allowing the feet to breathe and dry out, they eliminate most of the
Here is some additional information from the web:
Dr. Afzal A. Siddiqui, a parasitologist at ETSU, is studying a roundworm
indigenous to US soils. The roundworm, Strongyloides stercoralis, lives
within the soil and can enter the human body through a person'sbare feet.
"Strongyloides can live inside a human body for 30-40 years and that
person might never even know," Siddiqui said.
Strongyloidiasis, a disease caused by the parasite that bears its name, is
very easy to treat, he added. It also is one of the most difficult
parasitic diseases to diagnose.
"Treating it is not the problem," Siddiqui said. "Finding out if the
Strongyloides are actually in the
body is our greatest challenge."
From a UCSB Parasitology lecture:
Although still common in some parts of Appalachia (and the southern US),
hookworm is uncommon in the US. However, it is a problem in approximately 2
billion people in many parts of the world, particularly in India. A related
nematode is the dog hookworm, Ancyclostoma caninum. This is present world
wide and in Santa Barbara. It is easy for your dog to get because all dogs
walk around barefoot and don't use toilets. If a larval dog hookworm
encounters a bare human foot, the larvae penetrate but don't successfully
get into the circulatory system. Instead, they wander around in the skin
for weeks or months, leaving a track of inflamed, itching skin. This
symptom is called cutaneous larval migrans. Toxocara canis is not a
hookworm but it is a parasite of dogs and cats that causes a related
pathology. In this case, larval worms are able to get past the skin and
wander around in the human's tissues causing substantial pathology. This is
known as Visceral larval migrans. It is highly prevalent in children but
also in epileptics, the mentally retarded and institutionalized, suggesting
that the behavior of these people contribute to their risk of infection but
also suggesting the possibility that Toxocara can lead to these types of
serious mental conditions. If you own a dog, it is irresponsible to let it
defectae in areas where people like to go barefoot such as in parks or at
Sporotrichosis -- requires a skin break
This disease is a well known and cosmopolitan disease caused by
Sporothrix schenckii (Deuteromycetes). Infection, again, occurs
through a break in the skin of the foot, inoculated by a thorn or
other sharp object. The fungus [...] has been successfully treated
with potassium iodide (KI) since 1903.
Now, some people with a serious SLANT on their website are the Barefooters
(www.barefooters.org), who don't mention the above roundworm at all in
their "disease" section (which follows):
Q13: What about catching diseases?
Athlete's Foot (fungus):
The following is an excerpt from a pamphlet on Athlete's Foot by the
American Academy of Dermatology, April 1994:
Athlete's foot does not occur among people who traditionally go
barefoot. It's moisture, sweating and lack of proper ventilation of the
feet that present the perfect setting for the fungus of athlete's foot to
[ Full text: http://www.aad.org/aadpamphrework/AthletFoot.html ]
Therefore, by going barefoot, the perspiration from your feet
evaporates just like it does from the rest of your body; your feet
then remain cool and dry in the open air. The fungus can not survive
under these conditions. As a result, going barefoot will most likely
cure athlete's foot.
This is almost entirely confined to tropical, third-world countries
where people habitually walk in soil contaminated by the excrement of
infected humans and domestic animals. In the 1940s, hookworm occurred
in some regions of the southern USA but has largely disappeared even
there thanks to improved sanitation. The chance of getting hookworm
from barefoot hiking on trails in a temperate region such as North
America or Europe is very small. Hookworm is easily treatable with
vermifuges such as tetrachloroethylene: its prevalence in tropical
regions is largely a matter of public health, due to poor sanitation
and lack of access to medical facilities.
Ringworm (fungus: this has nothing to do with worms -- it's a misnomer):
The same text about Athlete's Foot applies for ringworm.
(Additionally, one can get it anywhere on one's body.)
Flipflops, the very cheap kind from any drugstore, are seldom resented by
kids, allow all the drying benefits of going barefoot, and are ideal for
short trips between car, store, and so forth. On long car trips, we keep
pairs in the car for easy in and outs. They protect from thorns, glass,
poop to some degree. I constantly went barefoot as a child, and have
magnificently healthy feet. ( Of course I probably have undiagnosed
visceral worms creeping about in me.)
In the more urban environment of the bay area, however, I worry about
glass in particular.
this page was last updated: Mar 12, 2009
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network