Tips for barefoot safety for kids

barefeetBy Betsy Stein

Nothing says summer more than kids running around barefoot, but is it safe for little feet?

For the most part, it's safe to be barefoot in the backyard or the pool, but there are potential hazards, says Dr. Margaret Turner from Annapolis Pediatrics.

"Burns, impaled objects and, in some settings, fungal infections are a few of the health concerns we think about with children playing barefoot," says Katie Fearon, a nurse practitioner at Bayside Pediatrics in Annapolis. "It's very important for parents to use their discretion for if, where and when they allow their kids to go without shoes."

Here are some tips for going barefoot from Fearon and Turner. If you are unsure of the terrain, it is always better to wear shoes with a good sole.

  • Playing sports barefoot is never a good idea and is a common cause of fractures and sprains.
  • Walking on decks without shoes is one of the most common ways children get splinters in their feet.
  • Hot blacktop in parking lots and driveways is an unexpected source of injury in the summer. It is possible to develop second-degree burns with blistering to the soles of the feet by walking barefoot on dark-colored pavement.
  • Pool decks with pavers or shale can also cause burns, so wear pool shoes or flip flops when not in the water.
  • Don't ride a bike, scooter or skateboard without shoes. It is harder to ride and leaves feet unprotected in the event of a fall.
  • Never go barefoot on a playground for the same reason as above.
  • Flip flops are never a good choice for playgrounds or riding toys, either, as they are prone to fall off while swinging, sliding, pedaling or climbing.

If you notice your child limping after playing outside, check the soles of the feet for burns, splinters or glass, Turner says. If the child complains of pain with movement in the ankle and foot, or if there is swelling, see a doctor to assess for a sprain or fracture.