A while ago there was also a shakeup in the kids shoe market. Remember back in the day when children were wearing those really rigid "training shoes"? They were usually white and lace-up with really thick soles and a stiff rod-like back. Heck I still have my pair- my mom bronzed them!
Then there was a 180 concerning first-footwear and pediatricians started shying away from the standard and favored a soft-soled shoe since they realized they were better for foot development. Fashionable toddlers everywhere were wearing little leather shoes.
So we have babies and toddlers in minimalist shoes, and adults in them too, but what about kids from say 5 and up?
Here are our suggestions for minimalist shoes for the young ones in your life. Certainly not an exhaustive list, but we hope that it helps get your kids off on the right foot (har har pun intended).
Babies to Toddlers:
Babies don't need shoes and early walkers do well with little leather shoes from companies like Robeez, Pediped, See Kai Run, Soft Star and RileyRoos. These shoes allow them to feel the ground and don't restrict the natural movement of their little feet. They range in price but the boutique brands usually retail for about $25-$35 but you can also pick ones up in WalMart, Old Navy or Target for about $7-$10.
|Old Navy. These did not stay on as well as the Robeez.|
One down side to these little leathers are that they aren't great if you are going outside in wet or snowy conditions since the leather will just soak up moisture. Owing to this many companies have also added a line of shoes which are still soft but have a thicker flexible sole and many also offer boots.
|Both from Robeez and both with thicker soles.|
Little and Big Kids (Sizes 10 and up):
A lot of the companies that catered to pre-walkers and early-walkers do not have larger sizes of their soft shoes for kids and this is where it can start to get a bit more pricey. It doesn't have to be though.
Here are the ones with a bit of sticker shock:
Vibram Five Fingers have come out with their new line of kids Five Fingers and they are just as good as the adult version. The one thing I don't like about these shoes is the price tag. About $70 for a pair which for us is a little too steep since little feet grow so quick. Plus as much as I love these shoes for exercise they just don't seem to fit with a nice Easter dress or Christmas photo outfit.
If you are looking for minimal and more formal then VivoBarefoot makes beautiful kids shoes. I would love to get the kids these but again, about $100 for boots and $70 for sneakers. Ouch!
I would say that if you are in love with these more expensive versions then check them out on Facebook or Twitter and check out their blogs since they can offer promotions and coupon codes so you can snag a pair for cheap. Also look out for seasonal product changes and try to get a pair on sale during the change of seasons or last year's style.
Ok now for the more reasonably priced.
Simple shoes are nice to look and and eco-friendly. Not all of their offerings are minimal but some are and they are worth checking out.
Skidders are kind of a sock with a sole attached to the bottom. They come in a variety of designs and again I wouldn't recommend them in the wet but they work well in warmer times and also inside. Plus kids can slip them on and off easily and they are simple to clean. Also the have a great pricetag at about $20.
Of course we can't forget Crocs and their numerous knock-offs. These are my kids all-time favorites and I think it is because they are light, come in a variety of cool colors and can slip on and off easily. For those in colder climes they even make fleece-lined versions too. Real Crocs are more expensive, coming in at about $35 or so while knock-offs can even be as low as $2-$3. Not the most beautiful shoe but for some reason they are a kid magnet.
|Our well worn knock-offs|
Finally the best for last:
NO shoes. When at all possible let them run around without anything on their feet. Kids seem to prefer that anyways. Yeah they will get dirty, but that's why you have a bathtub and soap.
If you are interested in some of the benefits of no shoes or minimalist shoes for your children then please read this article, Proper Shoes for Kids: Thoughts from a Family Doctor. It has even more links to help you find the best shoes for your whole family.