How we did it
I’m prone to believe those who say a soft sole is best for foot development. We stuck with the bare-foot idea when Dragon was first walking and his first pair of shoes was a soft sole crib shoe from Eggi. He wore them long enough to make a hole in the toe. Meanwhile the weather became more soggy so we dug out a pair of garage-sale-almost-new Merrell’s that I had purchased when Dragon was eensy-weensy. They had quite a solid sole and it was hard for him to get used to them. He marched around for a few days picking his feet up extra-high. Eventually the Merrell’s became a part of him and he wore them religiously until he started complaining a little when we put them on his feet. I think we waited a little too long.
This time I opted for Stride Rite for a softer sole. It turns out that some of the Stride Rite shoes (not all) are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association. The pair we chose are cute and I trust the sole is soft enough for his developing feet. When we got measured, he was a solid 6.5. He was wearing a size 6 so it is no wonder his toes were showing through and he was wincing. Ouch!
At the recommended 7.5W the shoes seem a little like clown shoes right now, but he is already used to them and running like a pro.
– Barefoot and soft soles have worked well for us. So far Dragon’s foot development and balance is good. I’m glad we have moved to another softer sole shoe at this point in time.
– Stride Rite proved to be a good place for us to buy his first new pair of “real” shoes.
What we learned:
– We waited way too long. Now that I know it is 2-3 months between growth spurts I’ll make sure to have the next size up on hand, or at least shop earlier.
– Different shoe companies have slightly different measurements. Make sure to use the measurements provided by the given company.
– It is worth it to buy new shoes rather than used shoes. The kids use this item more than about any other in the wardrobe. I searched high and low for used shoes and all of the infant and toddler shoes I found were worn out (except for the garage-sale pair that I lucked out on very early). The APMA also warns about used shoes because they fit different kids differently and can transfer fungus or infections. Yuk!
What are your shoe-purchasing tips and tricks for your baby, toddler, or older kids?
Websites and links I found interesting or useful:
American Orthepaedic Foot & Ankle Society – How to Fit Children’s Shoes
List of kid’s shoes approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (note: I didn’t see Stonz or Kamik both of which make soft-soled boots. Also, soft Robeez take-offs are available on Etsy, some are waterproof)
American Podiatric Medical Association – how to fit kid’s shoes
What Parents Should Know About Flatfeet, Intoeing, Bent Legs, and Shoes for Children
American Academy of Pediatrics – stance on shoes
Baby Center article on How to buy Baby and Toddler Shoes
Article from The Guardian
Research links from Parents of Barefoot Children (website)