Barefoot babes

Shoes are good for kids, right?  Wrong!  Here’s why you should take their shoes off today!

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I remember when my first born started walking.  I was so worried about doing everything right… you know, as everyone does with their first child!  So we got him the best shoes we could find.  With arch support and padding of course.  We strapped them on, and our previously very mobile toddler, could barely walk a step without falling.  When he stopped falling, he looked like those puppies that have boots on.  What was going on?

We did not know then, what we know now.  Shoes have no benefit for small children, other than protecting them from injury.  For example, stepping on glass.

Shoes can actually weaken the muscles of your child’s foot, and damage their structure.

Children that do not wear shoes, have been shown to have better arches, and stronger feet.

Going barefoot, also allows your child to gather sensory data from their feet.  They would not be able to feel the grass, moisture from the soil, or temperature with shoes on.

They also are less able to develop their gross motor skills, because wearing shoes alters their natural balance.

What do we do now for shoes?

Our smallest kids wear Robeez as long as possible, when they aren’t able to be barefoot.  For my oldest, we just started buying Vivo Barefoot shoes and we are in love!  The shoes are very cool looking, which was a major concern for my oldest.  He reports they are his most comfortable shoes ever.  They have been good for playing sports, when shoes are necessary.  The shoes are also very minimal.  (In case you’re wondering, I have no sponsorship deal with either company mentioned in this post).

Do yourself and your little one a favour today, go outside without shoes!

 

Much of the information is from one of my all time favourite books, Balanced and Barefoot Angela J. Hanscom.

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Risky play boosts confidence and decision making ability

Let my three year old climb trees and rocks??  Without holding my hand?

It can be scary as a mother watching your 3 year old scramble up cliffsides, running along trails, climb trees or big rock formations.  However, I try to trust my children as much as possible, and encourage them to assess the challenge vs. their skill level.

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I will often ask them, “are you sure?” Or “is that branch/rock steady enough?”.  Sometimes I may even say, “what will happen if you step here?” To teach them to analyze the risks.

Allowing them the chance to scale new surfaces will improve their gross motor skills, also their confidence in themselves and their ability to reason whether something is or is not a good idea.

As moms, as much as we may wish to, we will not always be there to make decisions for our children.  We may be afraid to let them make decisions because of a perceived risk.  Instead of saying no, we should instead help our child learn to be safer while climbing.  We must prepare them to do think of these things independently.

Yes, this does extend much further than a discussion about tree climbing.

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I believe we must mother from a place of trust and not fear.  We need to provide children with opportunities to grow in their judgement in a relatively safe context, so they can practice making decisions independently.

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The decisions our children make will get much more complex as they get older.  So let’s start them on the way, by letting them decide what they will and won’t climb while out hiking.

Sit in front of a tree, not your tablet!

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A late Winter Challenge for adventurous families!

The days are still cold, but we are getting stronger and more resilient by enjoying the fresh air.  Join us by doing this checklist:

1. Find treasures under a log… hopefully some cool bugs and plants.  Don’t forget to put it back to how you have found it.

2. Look for mushrooms.  Collect a small variety to learn what they are when you get home.  We usually carry a box with us to put in interesting discoveries.

3. Make a simple bird feeder to help the birds make it through the winter.  Belle made a simple one.  She spread peanut butter on a stick and sprinkled bird seed on the peanut butter.  Then she put the stick as high as she could get it on a tree.

We came back the next day to see if birds had come to eat the seeds, but it was gone.  There was a lot of curiosity about whether a coyote had eaten the stick.

4. Find a bug.  We were gifted an amazing magnifying glass.  The kids have been enjoying checking out a variety of items with the magnifying glass.  Hands and fingers have been a favourite.  We are hoping to find a dead spider or bee to learn about the physical characteristics.

5. Climb a tree.  This is a challenge for us.  Our little neck of the woods is quite dense so the branches start quite high.  We have a decent climbing tree out front, but we will keep looking for one in the forest.

Post or msg me if you want to join in.  Complete the whole challenge, post about it and you can have a private sneak peak at how we spent our Spring break.  You may get some ideas.

Deadline for completion: March 21st 7pm EST.

Water Safety Tips

How do you keep kids safe when hiking near or through water?

We all want to make sure our kids stay safe.  So how do you balance teaching your children a healthy respect of the water, while still letting them enjoy the opportunities that water can provide?

  1. Check out the creek/river before bringing your children, it may help you plan for risks better.  For example, we only go to the creek when my just over 1 year old can stay with my husband, because he is curious, but not ready.
  2. Before unleashing your children in the water, review safety rules with them
  3. No children near the water without a grown up.  For us, one side of the trail is off limits because of cliffs and water.  So they are not allowed to go off the trail on that side without a grown up.
  4. Kids always stay close to the grown up when we are in or near water.
  5. Help them find ways to learn to use their own judgement about rock steadiness, or slipperiness.
  6. Look for spots where the water is shallower than your child’s knees.
  7. Be sure there is little to no current.
  8. Dress appropriately, for us on a warmer day in the winter, the kids wear full rain gear with elastic leg holes – over their snow suits, with lined rubber boots.
  9. Let them explore, there is so much to do at the creek!!

Fear for your child’s safety is natural.  However, if you don’t introduce some risky play to your young child, how will they learn to deal with fear.

Be safe about it, but with the right creek, water play is awesome.

Winter hike with tots

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Owen is learning how to walk in the snow covered branches, leaves and rocks.  Not an easy task for a 14 month old!  Although, soft and squishy footwear allows him to use his feet more effectively.

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Belle found a small creek, we stopped to play for about half an hour.  She poked it, threw things in it and finally dipped her boot in it.  She decided against a full soaker this time…. but she found a giant puddle down the trail, so don’t worry, she was able to get messy!

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After walking around and eating a tonne of snow, Owen fell asleep in the stroller.  This worked out great, because we didn’t have to rush home for nap time and got to play in the snowy forest even longer!