4

Shoes indoors - is this common?

So adding to the question linked above,

what happens when Americans have children --

  1. Do they prepare a separate shoes-free room where the baby can freely crawl around?

  2. Or do they suddenly get a RugDoctor job done so that the baby can roam freely around the house?

  3. Do they also have the toddlers wear shoes?

  4. I've also heard that some people keep their babies in cribs as long as they can't wear shoes, and then have them wear shoes afterwards.

Which is most common? One of my relative's families are Americans yet they go barefoot(somehow); what is the most common arrangement?

9

In my experience the actual answer is an option that you haven't listed: the babies crawl on the same floor on which people walk in their shoes. Yet they seem to get no sicker than babies who live in homes where people don't wear their shoes (for such homes also exist in the US).

  • 2
    Seems to be better for the baby's immune system to be confronted with a few bacteria here and there. – gnasher729 May 26 at 21:17
  • 1
    In support of @gnasher729's point, children raised on farms with lots of exposure to animals tend to be healthier than children raised in really clean homes with no pets. – Patricia Shanahan May 28 at 18:16
  • @PatriciaShanahan indeed. I suppose that's true in the long term. In the short, term, though, I suppose they might get more colds and sniffles and the like. – phoog May 28 at 19:02
  • I can't speak for America, but that is certainly what our son (and all our friends babies) did in the UK. – Martin Bonner May 29 at 14:23
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To answer this question as well as your other question, here are three points to consider:

  • Most Americans drive just about everywhere. So their shoes just don't get very dirty. You don't pick up much dirt driving to the store, walking around in the parking lot and in the store, and then driving back home. So American floors don't get very dirty compared to places where people might walk everywhere.

  • If you're living in an urban or suburban environment, most surfaces, whether streets or sidewalks or parking lots, will be paved. So you won't pick up dirt on your shoes from walking there the way you would if these were dirt surfaces.

  • Most American buildings, whether homes or offices, are air-conditioned. In addition to cooling the air, an air conditioner usually filters the air as well. This removes the kinds of particulate matter that might otherwise accumulate.

So with all of these considerations, wearing one's outside shoes inside is really not a big deal. There will still be some families who take their shoes off, but you're extremely unlikely to catch horrible diseases, or even to get your feet dirty, if you walk barefoot on a floor where others have been walking with their shoes on.

If anything, the problem in America may be the reverse: Things aren't dirty enough! There are theories that allergies are such a problem in America because our immune systems don't learn to distinguish between genuinely harmful matter and everyday things like dirt or smoke or pet hair, and so the immune system ends up overreacting to everything.

  • This is a good point, but I would note that in some urban environments the paved streets and sidewalks are disgustingly filthy. – phoog Jun 6 at 23:34
  • Nah, they get rained on, and the streets get cleaned by street sweepers. – Kyralessa Jun 7 at 5:35
  • I live in New York City. Nether the rain nor street sweepers keep the streets reliably clean everywhere. Also much of the subway system is protected from rain and for whatever reason cleaned either ineffectively or insufficiently frequently. It's disgusting enough that I am not comfortable wearing sandals in the city in the summer, and I usually have a pretty strong tolerance for grime and filth. – phoog Jun 7 at 6:01
  • Well, New York City is not exactly your average American city. – Kyralessa Jun 7 at 8:53

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