Shoes for the baby.
March 18, 2011

Charlotte has been in the same shoe size for three pairs of shoes.  The first pair was brown with dogs on them.  The second pair was blue with brown stripes across the top.  The third pair was brown with butterflies and a pink flower.

We started our daughter out in soft-soled shoes because we wanted her feet to develop naturally (well, as naturally as living in a home with hard-wood floors will allow!) for as long as possible, but we had no idea how difficult that would be.  Soft-soled shoes are not immensely different from walking barefoot, which means that little feet find it uncomfortable to walk on hot surfaces like roads and sidewalks in the summer.  And since most soft-soled shoes on the market are leather, winter poses its own set of problems because little feet have a tendency to do things like walk through puddles and wet grass.  When the leather dries, it is less flexible and it takes a couple hours to become comfortable again.

Outside of those two hurdles, we also hadn’t realized that soft-soled shoes would wear through so quickly.  When Charlotte first began pulling herself up and cruising around, we bought a tiny pair of shoes that were pink with white stripes.  We only put them on her when we were outside at the park – our yard and indoor locations were all barefoot.  She outgrew those shoes before she wore through them.  But when she started walking, she dragged her toes and shuffled about and rubbed her feet along rocks.  When she started climbing low tree branches she used her feet to cling to the boughs and when she began running and tip-toeing everywhere she scuffed her feet along the ground.

She busted holes in one pair of shoes after another.

For the last few weeks, Donald and I have been eyeing the last pair of shoes knowing that its days were numbered.  It had a small hole that was bound to expand.  When it did, we decided to try patching it up with some extra leather we had around the house.

Instead, when the small hole finally morphed into a big hole, Donald busted out the sewing machine.  Over the course of two evenings, he created a pattern, sized, cut, and stitched two little leather shoes for his little girl.  They are softer and more flexible than the soft-soled shoes in the market, do not stiffen up quite as much when they get wet, and are thicker and more durable.

They may not have little butterfly designs on them, but I’m certainly smitten.


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  1. By on March 18, 2011

    Maybe Donald has found a new calling! I’m sure there’s a market for more durable soft-soled shoes!

    Just curious, how long do you think you’ll stick with the soft-soled shoes? I was all about the soft-soled shoes while my Charlotte was learning to walk, but now that she, you know, RUNS we’ve switched to hard soled shoes.

  2. By Sarah Christensen on March 18, 2011

    Jessica - I don’t really know.  We originally thought we wanted to go until she was three or four, and then keep soft-soled shoes around the home for gardening etc but use hard-soled shoes out and about.  Our reasoning was that around that age she’ll become aware of what other children are wearing, if only because they like to show off new shoes to each other, and we don’t want to add any more lifestyle factors that could alienate her.  Also, by then she’ll be into harder play and we do want to protect her feet when we take her to hammer-and-nail play at the adventure park, etc.

    But during the rains this year, we realized that: a) there aren’t many soft-soled shoes available for older toddlers unless you make them yourself, and b) her feet got so cold and so wet so quickly that it didn’t really seem fair.  So we’ve been thinking that we’ll go until it gets cold this year and then we’ll see what happens from there.  It’s hard to say because we really want her to learn to run in soft-soled shoes so that she understands how her feet should feel, but we’re not barefoot runners ourselves our anything so we worry that if we wait too long it will make the transition to harder soles more difficult.

  3. By on March 18, 2011

    This is where I admit that my Charlotte started showing off her shoes and having an opinion about her clothes about 6 months ago.

    But she’s an accessories girl, she also loves hats and hairbows & barrettes. :)

  4. By on March 18, 2011

    This is great to read - my son is 7 months old and my husband and I are both really into the “barefoot” movement.  We don’t run barefoot, but we both run in Vibrams.  We’ve begun discussing how we’re going to handle shoes for our boy.  We still wear hard-soled shoes sometimes, but both think it’s important to understand your own feet.  It’s just one more thing I didn’t really think about before becoming a parent.  ;)

  5. By on March 18, 2011

    Have you seen/heard of “skidders”? We’ve dabbled in both soft sole and hard sole shoes with Jude and thus far, these have been my favorite.

    They’re a softer sole, but also more durable than a leather shoe sole.

    http://www.myskidders.com/Hybrid-Infant-Boy-Skidders/

  6. By Sheila on March 19, 2011

    You should post the pattern!  That, or open an Etsy store so I can buy a pair.  I’m really into letting my boy go barefoot, but there are a lot of places and situations where I’d really feel safer having something on his feet.

    But hard-soled shoes are out, for quite some time at least.  My husband has seriously deformed feet, partly genetic and partly due to wearing bad shoes.  He had to have foot surgery, and it messed up his gait, which messed up his back ... I want to give our son better odds than his dad had.

    Luckily it’s not impossible to manage.  I mentioned my love of being barefoot to a friend of mine, and she said she hardly ever wore shoes till she went to college!  She’s grateful her feet got to develop naturally, and she doesn’t seem to mind wearing shoes when she has to (though she takes them off whenever she doesn’t need them, as we all should probably do).

  7. By Cynthia Krajcarski on March 20, 2011

    There are obviously brands like PediPed and Robeez that make the transition from soft soled shoes to hard soled shoes easier. That’s probably how we’re going to make the transition from soft soled to hard soled.

    Sarah, there are soft soled winter boots. They’re lined on the inside so baby’s feet stay warm. Isla wore them all winter without any wetness and she also wore them without socks (her favourite way to wear them because they’re so soft on the inside), we never had any cold feet. Since it’s just freezing here and not so puddley, we never had any issues… But you may if you get as much rain as we get snow.


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