Why Do Toddlers Take Off Their Shoes And Socks?

toddler removing their shoes

Boy this is frustrating. I’ve lost count of the number times my two year old son has taken his shoes and socks off when he’s in his car seat. Why does he do it? It’s all the more annoying when you’re in a rush taking him to nursery or his childminder and you just know his actions will delay you a bit further when you arrive. Cheeky monkeys aren’t they?

However, I’ve come to the conclusion that my son can’t be the only one doing this and it must be something that a lot of toddlers do from time to time. In this article let’s discuss why children do this and ask if there is anything you can do about it.

Why does your child keep taking off their socks and shoes?

If you have a repeat offender who keeps removing his socks and shoes, it could be because their shoes don’t fit correctly and they are uncomfortable to wear.

So your first course of action should be measure their feet properly and check you have the right size shoes for them. Check the width of their feet as well as the length. You can do this in a shoe shop or purchase a measuring gauge. Alternatively you can just use a ruler or measuring tape.  If you notice that the shoes do fit ok, then you might want to look at some lace up ones instead of ones with velcro straps. These are a lot harder to take off.

Another reason a toddler may take his or her shoes and socks off is boredom or they’re just doing it for fun. If you’re in the car for a while, they just might be trying to find something to do!

While many toddlers take off just their shoes, some will go one step further and take off their socks as well. Some pairs of socks are uncomfortable for babies and toddlers, especially if they have seams. Try some seamless socks instead as they might be more comfortable.

Finally, don’t forget that young children and babies have more sensitive skin, so if their feet feel hot and sticky, especially on a warm day, they might want to take their shoes and socks off to let their skin breathe a little.

How to get your child to keep their socks and shoes on

baby shoes

So now you understand a few reasons why your toddler might want to take off their shoes, what can you do to stop them from doing it? Well, it’s not easy and usually it’s just a phase that they’ll grow out of…eventually! That being said, here are some things you can do in the mean time.

Praise and reward      

You can try rewarding your toddler with something if they manage to keep their shoes on for an entire car journey. It depends on how well you child understands you, so it might not work for younger toddlers, but try it and see how it goes. Furthermore, if they do manage to ever keep their shoes on when you need them to, make sure you praise them for it. They might just learn for next time!

Buy some different shoes and socks

As I mentioned above, you can always try a different pair of shoes. In general, lace ups work better than other shoe types as they are harder to pull off and there’s no chance a toddler will know how to untie a pair of shoe laces (if they do, you probably have a genius on your hands!) For socks, try some seamless pairs instead and see how you get on.

Just accept it and don’t worry

a pair of child socks

This was my conclusion in the end. I knew the shoes and socks were the right size for my son and he only removed them when we in the car and I was driving. I’m hardly going to slam the brakes on and put his shoes back on mid-journey, so I reluctantly just accepted it. Fortunately, he’s been doing it a little less recently.

Benefits of children not wearing shoes

Another way to look at all of this is to focus on the benefits of children not wearing shoes.  Some parents are so keen to slap shoes on their toddler once they’re walking, that they forget about the benefits of children walking barefoot, when it’s safe to do so. Remember, children’s feet are particularly vulnerable to deformity when they wear the wrong footwear so encourage them to move around without shoes as much as you can.

For toddlers there are lots of perks of walking barefoot:

  1. It helps to build muscles in their feet and toes. Without shoes on, children are learning to grip with their toes, build strength and improve the flexibility of their feet
  2. Improves motor skills. Walking barefoot can improve a child’s sense of balance when they are running or jumping, so they are less likely to fall over
  3. Stimulates nerve endings. As adults we barely think about the sensations we have when we touch things with our feet, but imagine what it’s like for a toddler when they walk across the grass or touch sand. Walking barefoot helps to develop connections between the feet and the brain.

Source:  https://www.famly.co/blog/playing-barefoot-children-toddlers

Related: Should Toddlers Do Forward Rolls Or Somersaults?


Despite your best efforts if your child still carries on taking off their shoes (and socks) you should really try not to worry about it. It’s simply a phase that some children go through and they will grow out of it soon enough. Focus on the positives of children walking barefoot instead, providing it’s in a safe environment, as they will gain a lot of physical benefits when they get older.

My son is almost two and a half now and he has already started taking his shoes off less when we’re in the car. Who knows if this is because I’ve been nagging him to stop, or if it just doesn’t interest him anymore? So have faith, and a little patience, and I’m sure your little one will eventually get bored of tearing his socks and shoes off all the time.

Related: Why Do Babies Hate Wearing Shoes?