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This blog post is Part 2 of a four-part series on our experience selling shoes in our store. Earlier, in Part 1, we introduced the different stages of walking for young children.
These tootsies will soon be walking!
In this blog post, we'd like to introduce baby's first shoes and shoes for the tentative toddler up to 24 months. These shoes cover three mini stages of growth from the crawling babies, the mighty 'travelling' babies supporting themselves with arm grips and the tentative toddler learning how to explore the world unaided on two little feet!
What is a Pre-walker?
Children are usually 'pre-walkers' up to 10 months, depending on their developmental progress. They may be sitting up, crawling and becoming more curious about their surroundings but they are not yet walking.
Pre-walkers use their feet, but not in the muscular way they will as adults. They are not putting a lot of weight on them and so the bones and muscles need not be, and indeed aren't fully defined. The feet itself tend to be pudgy and fat, very supple and physically unrefined.
If your child is at this stage of walking, you would be looking for soft-sole shoes. Paediatricians and podiatrists recommend soft-sole shoes because they allow children to closely mimic barefoot walking.
Why is barefoot walking good for your children?
As your children start to walk, their feet muscles are slowly developing. They need to be able to:
Podiatrists recommend that going as close to barefoot as possible will help baby develop stronger and more coordinated foot muscles.
Most international shoe brands usually have a range of pre-walkers/soft-sole shoes which are easily identifiable.
In our store or online, look for:
- Pediped - This US brand has the 'Originals' range of soft-soles in our store made of thin and flexible slight-grip calf leather soles (with pig-skin lining). These provide enough protection for baby's feet whilst providing just enough traction on surfaces without tripping up the still-unstable walker.
Unlike shoes with suede or cloth soles, these Originals are extremely easy to clean so they're perfect for outdoor activities such as walks in Botanic Gardens. Take a damp cloth and simply wipe them clean after walking in the park. Easy!
- Bobux - This NZ brand has a range of pig-skin leather Soft Soles for the newborn baby. With elasticated ankle closures that gently hug baby's foot, they provide shoe shells with a lovely thin sheath of protection for those first months.
Bobux soft sole has incredibly soft leather breathes and moulds to baby’s foot whilst allowing freedom of flexing those little toes. They were designed with interesting, cheery styles to stimulate little minds at the same time. The designers describe it as akin to having little mobiles at the end of their feet!
A baby's walking stage is 'travelling' when they're already pulling themselves up and moving side to side whilst using various hand supports. Sometimes at this stage, we see them on their tippy toes and they still have that cute unsteady wobble of a new walker!
Some baby shoes in the market, albeit cool or cute looking, might be far too rigid for baby at this stage. As a rule of thumb, their feet should avoid being confined within a rigid shoe as the muscles in their feet and ankle may not have the chance to develop the strength necessary to hold them upright.
- Tip Toey Joey (or TTJ) - This Brazilian brand has a pre-walker range of calf-leather shoe shells that provides just slightly more grip and sole thickness for the 'travelling' baby. Completely crushable leather mean babies get all the flexibility their growing feet need.
The specially designed sole that allows the complete fold-in-half means baby gets a more full-range step with their feet that discourages stomping, and thus, tripping. The heel and toe two-part little thin rubber soles provide more grip for the baby just starting to explore life upright. Classic styles make TTJ shoes easy to match, whilst smart features like elasticated backs and velcro make for fuss-free wearing.
Flexibility in TTJ shoes are paramount for little growing feet
Another brand we carry in-store is Duvic. The Duvic baby shoes have a flexible, semi-grip sole that's great for babies that have accelerated into 'travelling'. They're great for the two stages where baby is still not walking unaided but moving quite quickly side-to-side whilst gripping objects for stability, or even when the little one is already taking their first quick steps all by themselves.
Being incredibly crushable and soft, they are still suitable as a first shoe that does not constrict baby's growth or hamper developmental growing and strengthening.
The all-round soft rubber sole provides more protection than a completely soft sole against toe-stubbing. Also, this range is machine-washable in a cold setting keeping shoes possible to clean thoroughly for babies that pop everything in their mouths.
Photo credit: The Saga Seed
A wide array of colors in two styles - T- bar and Mary-janes
So, to put it simply, wearing soft-soles provide the freedom for a little foot to do all the things it should through this stage of development while providing protection from the environment when baby is out exploring the new world!
As always, we look forward to assisting you at our physical store at Cluny Court or answering any of your queries online. Pop in to The Elly Store or our online store with baby for a mini shoe-fitting or gifting experience.
Look out for part 3 of this blog post coming soon, where we introduce you to the next step-up stages of a child's footwear.
Just a couple of questions I get pretty often at the store:
Q: My friend has given me second hand shoes for my baby/toddler. Can I just use these?
A: We don't recommend it as shoes (especially leather products) tend to mould to one's foot and toe shape. Your little one might end up with blisters from a mis-fit shoe.
Q: What size do I buy as newborn gift?
A: All babies are pretty differently sized! If unsure, buy a bigger size like EU20 as most children start to wear shoes regularly from 9 months. EU sizes typically start at EU19 and other brands like Pediped Originals do S, M and L.
Q: My baby hates the shoes. He either goes back to crawling or tries to tear them off!
A: This is quite a typical reaction to a new pair! We experience it all the time in-store! Not to worry! First-timers can be coaxed by putting them on and then distracting them with an activity. When baby forgets they are on, he stops fussing. If he continues to, do check for discomfort or sore points on the foot though. They might be the wrong fit. Toddlers also get used to the concept of shoe-wearing means going out! So they get excited about them pretty quickly! Praise and encourage!
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