When I became a teacher and tried being on my feet all. day. long… I realized the days of high heels and “for fashion only” shoes had to be relegated to weekends and special events. My poor toes are so bendy and warped, I have a hard time finding shoes that feel good on me (especially if they need to be “dressy”). I’m pretty sure my feet have had their day…and it isn’t pretty!
Children’s feet are especially at risk
My real concern though, is for my children’s feet as they are still developing. How do I ensure they are wearing shoes that fit, support, protect, and keep their little toes pointing in the right direction? I did some sleuthing and here’s what I found out:
Over time, the soft cartilage children are born with converts and fuses into bone. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists say that the 26 bones in our feet don’t fully harden until ages 12-18. Wow, that’s a long time!
Poorly fitting footwear can put children at risk for injury and deformity.
Foot deformities can affect posture, the body, and a person’s gait.
Tips for choosing natural footwear for kids
Many foot specialists believe going barefoot is best. However, this is extremely impractical for us here in New England (hubby would be very interested in going barefoot for the rest of his life, but I don’t think his job would allow it!). However, I did keep my babies out of shoes nearly entirely (barring cute photo ops!), until they were walking.
In lieu of going barefoot, here’s some ways to support proper foot development in children:
Go soft! Baby and toddler shoes should be “soft” in the sole so their feet can “feel” the floor and flex naturally. There are times you’ll want to put a cute pair of baby shoes on your child before they start walking or maybe as they’re learning, but there are plenty of adorable baby shoes with soft and flexible soles.
Just for kids. Select toddler shoe styles specifically designed for developing baby feet (versus just scaled down adult shoe styles).
Make room! Choose shoes with room in the toe box. Little toes need to move and spread, possibly more than adults since toddlers are learning balance and gait.
Avoid synthetics. Select shoes made with cloth or leather, as these breath, creating a healthy atmosphere for skin and feet.
Watch out for overly thick socks. A pair of shoes that fits barefoot or with dress socks may suddenly be ill-fitting once sports or wool socks are worn.
Beware the footie PJ! I’m a fan of footie pajamas for keeping kids snuggly while sleeping, but sometimes I notice children in footed rompers that are super tight in the toes, pulling their feet and toes upward. It doesn’t look comfortable for the babies, and could even be harmful for their developing feet – size up, in the footies!
Recently, I was introduced to a natural shoe brand completely new to me: Soft Star Shoes. The more I read about their products, the more I loved what I read, and wanted to share their unique brand with you, my readers!
Soft Star Shoes is one of just a few remaining shoe brands that is made in the USA (less than .01% of shoe brands can say that!). Much of their material is also sourced in the USA as well, including soling materials from Vibram’s USA line.
Their leathers are naturally tanned without formaldehyde. So even if your little one chews on their feet – with shoes on! – you can rest easy knowing they aren’t sucking down a bunch of chemicals.
Soft Star Shoes uses real sheepskin (not just wool fibers on a synthetic backing). You know how I love my wool products, right? Now you can get “wool” based shoes! And, for those who avoid animal-based products, Soft Star Shoes even has vegan shoes.
Each shoe is handcrafted, often right when you order, and includes no stiffeners or adhesives, so they mold to your feet. One thing that really impressed me as I was checking out the Soft Star Shoe line, was the variety of styles, colors, and customization you can get in their shoes. Even design-your-own shoes! I’ve been wearing my metallic Mary Jane style shoes and love the way I can see my toes bending and flexing underneath the leather. These shoes are incredibly supple, so I don’t experience that “breaking in” period that comes with many shoes I’ve owned that had a tight and rigid toe box. Love that!
When I slip into my shiny pewter Merry Jane leather shoes from Soft Star Shoes, I love the feeling of free toes, and I also love the styling – modern yet comfortable!
I’m rather curious to try out their RunAmoc line of minimalist running shoes too – they look like moccasins, but with some performance features like “treaded” trail soles, perforated leather for breathability, and the options to customize.
I’ve enjoyed sharing Soft Star Shoes with you… I invite you to visit their website to see their full line of moccasins, ballerina flats, children’s shoes and more!
What are your feet / shoe concerns for yourself or your little ones?
This post was brought to you by Soft Star Shoes and I receive a product in exchange. All opinions are my own.