At Happy Little Soles we only recommend using shoes when absolutely necessary. We generally only recommend shoes for those who are confidently walking and don’t recommend pram shoes or other baby shoes other than for warmth. Once your child is starting to move around though it is often helpful to use something with a grippier sole than a sock, especially if you have slippy floors! This is where our pre-walkers come in.
Pre-walking shoes should be the softest and most flexible available and are designed with soft, yet grippy soles. They are there to provide a bit of extra protection and traction to help your little ones growing feet as they start to explore their surroundings. They should be specifically designed with plenty of space around the toes and super soft uppers to allow the foot to develop naturally at this critical time.
The human foot is a complex mechanical structure with 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments plus an array of delicate blood vessels, nerves and tissue fibres all working together to control the movement of each foot. Amazingly it takes 18 years for the structure of the foot to fully develop and right at the start of this process your little one’s feet mainly consist of soft, squidgy cartilage. Therefore, it is vital that you aid the development process and choosing the right footwear for your child is a big part of this process. Studies suggest that children’s shoes can interfere with growing feet because the foot conforms to the shoe instead of forming naturally. This is especially the case if the shoes are stiff, narrow, tight, or have an inflexible sole.
As your little one starts to take their first steps on the journey towards walking it is easy to get excited and rush out and buy their first pair of shoes. In reality you should do the opposite. At this stage it is even more important that you keep them as barefoot as possible for as much of the time as possible to help their feet strengthen and develop. Furthermore, keeping them barefoot also helps with other factors such as balance, coordination, awareness, agility and sensory motor development (did you know there are as many as 200,000 nerve endings in the sole of one foot!).
Although it is advisable to remain barefoot for as much as possible, we all know that this is not always appropriate. When your little one starts to cruise around and explore their world there will be occasions where they need some protection from the cold and rough surfaces. Pre-Walking shoes provide the perfect solution in this instance. You should only use shoes when absolutely necessary for protection and do make sure that you also allow lots of barefoot time too and time to explore a range of different surfaces, so they are used to experiencing different sensations through their feet.
Pre -Walkers are specifically designed so they are soft and light enough to maintain the flexibility needed for the foot to develop naturally and non-slip soles to help them as they embark on their journey taking those first steps. At the same time, they provide those little feet with a bit of extra protection.
It is perfectly acceptable to continue to use your pre-walkers through into confident walking if you are finding that they are still suiting your child. The only reason we would suggest moving to a first shoe is if your child is starting to wear the pre-walkers out more quickly as they are walking more and more. It is important to be guided by your child as to when they are ready for something a bit more durable.
We always recommend using the softest and most flexible shoes you can get away with but bear in mind that thinner soles and softer leathers will wear our more quickly!
However, do remember that children will grow very quickly when they start walking, on average up to 3 sizes in the first year of walking. Not only do they grow but also the effect of gravity on little feet causes feet to spread so you have the double whammy! Often why they are only in those first shoes for a matter of weeks!
We have a wide range of characterful pre-walkers on offer from brands such as Pediped, Livie and Luca, Froddo and Bobux. Our favourite pre-walker options include the wonderful Stonz Booties which offer a great option to keep little ones warm and cosy in slings and baby carriers and can be used to potter about in without any restriction on the feet as they are totally unstructured. Our other favourites include the wonderful Bobux Xplorers and the colourful Pediped Originals. All of these are super soft, with thin flexible soles and come in a great range of colours and designs.