Our 18-month-old has always worn Robeez (basically slippers, with very soft, single-layer leather soles). We were at an event recently with a bunch of other kids his age, and everyone else seemed to be wearing "real shoes": with flexible soles, but still, definitely soles.
Is there a cut-off for moving your child to shoes with real soles? Google is giving me conflicting information, and shoe manufacturers (of course) all have their own agendas they would like me to believe are the one true way.
We live in California, with no real weather to speak of, so his shoes wouldn't need to protect him against cold or wet. Just form a protective layer between his tootsies and the sidewalk.
From what I know barefoot is best as long as possible. Shoes are there to protect from cold and sometimes trash and glass on the ground. We kept our child as long as possible barefoot or thinsoled shoes. He is now 19months and wears very flexible soled shoes. The winter was too cold in New England to have him just wear robeez. Even I love walking around in barefoot shoes or better no shoes.
I introduced SKRs when he started wearing holes in the robeez quickly (mostly once he was walking everywhere, parking lots, gravel, sand, etc) And even then we used stayed with Robeez for indoor playdates, running to the store and went barefoot in our house and yard. If your son isn't beating up his Robeez I wouldn't worry about switching.
I think the only issue is how quickly the soles would wear out and protection. My DD has recently insisted on walking places with me, so the soles could go really quick, but if that's not a concern, as long as his feet are protected, robeez are fine. I plan to get my DD some soft soled sandles just because I want her feet better protected at the play ground and I need something that can get wet.
My child was running around barefoot at the early walker stage. Yes, he is allowed to walk barefoot outside, on the street, at the park, in the grocery store. I often walk barefoot as well. But they just don't walk that much early on. I myself have a softsole shoe and have been wearing it for over a year without having worn through it.
The suede soles withstand quite a bit of wear, even when the walk a lot. My son needs new shoes every 3-4 months anyways, because he just grows quickly.
One problem with suede soles is that they get very slippery when wet. Softstarshoes has some TRex soles that are phantastic even in wet conditions.
My 2 yo wore Robeez until he out grew them this past winter. He'd still be wearing them out & about if they fit. He had a pair of fake fur lined bootie type and the classic ones. Even with wearing them outside in New Englad they're in good enough shape the new baby will wear them when they fit her, too. The only reasons we didn't buy the next size up is that we found cute, soft soled shoes for him for less than new Robeez and because the soft soled shoes give him better grip when he's climbing playground equipment.
DS is 18 mos and still wears soft soled shoes mainly. He has a couple pair of 'real' shoes but seldomly wears them. I think around 2 is when we will quit doing the soft soled shoe thing.
My LOs have never worn through a pair of soft soled shoes, but I also rotate between a few pairs so maybe that's why... I get them second hand from friends, shops, etc. I can't fathom paying $30 for a thin piece of leather that will be outgrown in a couple months.
DD1 wore soft sole until after she was 2. It worked out for us
My son has been walking for about 9 months and currently has flexible soled shoes and a pair of Bobux.
However, he definitely walks best in the Bobux shoes (similar to Robeez). He rarely trips in them and it probably feels similar to being barefoot.
He wears the flexible soled shoes though when he really needs protection from sharp objects, such as on the playground.
We got two pairs of hand me down robeez for DD (with DS he wore regular flexible soled shoes from 10 months on). One she is almost out of and they are in good enough condition I would hand them down again. The other she has another 6 months in them I'd guess. She walks in the park and down the sidewalk in them every day. I mean she's 17 months so it's hardly like she's walking miles and miles a day...after about two blocks she's pretty much done. So far they are not worn through. She also has a pair of Pink Chuck Taylors that have a super flexible sole that she actually prefers to wear and they are flexible enough I don't think any real damage is being done when she puts them on every couple of days.
As long as she's protected from the elements, robeez are great for the feet. I wish they had them in grown up sizes. I would so totally wear them. They are so cute, too!
DD is just over 2 and still frequently wears her Robeez (we get ours secondhand, too, BTW) when we're out and about. We live in an urban neighborhood, though, so when we're at the playground or walking down the street, there's a fair amount of broken glass and other sharp debris that requires slightly more foot protection. (It drives DH crazy that I won't wear shoes in the same conditions, but I just point out to him that my feet are tougher than most shoe leather, so even walking on glass is pretty safe for me.) My ped advocates barefoot toddlers as much as possible because it's best for their foot development; soft-soled shoes are definitely the closest to this. We spent all winter walking at the mall -- she must have run miles in her little Robeez boots. I love those things.
DS is 25 months and has been a steady walker (read, runner!) since he was 12 mos. I keep him in pretty soft-sole shoes even now and despite him not being an early walker. This year, we did Robeez soft-soles around the house, a thicker-soled Robeeze for outdoors as well as a pair of Stride-Rites. He has a pair of Pedi-Ped sandals that are a tiny bit more substantial than the Robeez slipper-soles but not rubber. I also just recently got him some cheapo flip-flops and croc imitations from Target for summer. I can tell a huge difference in his stability when he's wearing the thinner-soled shoes. I look around the park and yes, the other kids his age are all wearing "real" tennis shoes with gigantic, thick soles that have no flex to them at all. I wonder if this is one of the reasons DS is much quicker and seems more coordinated than other kids his age--he's not fighting with his shoe wear. We have never had any problems with his not being able to walk on a surface b/c of his soles being too thin.
Zulily has some pretty good deals on some of the more feet-friendly baby/toddler shoes if you keep an eye out.
I think we switched from roobeez to the Smaller line from See Kai Run around that time. She is really active and her feet where getting kind of bashed up at the park. Smaller or the baby line of pediped is great because it is collapsable but it a little more protective and shoe like.
Once my son mastered walking, I moved him out of the soft soles and into toddler shoes with soles- because he LOVES to run and play outside. I also live in CA where weather is less of an issue, but terrain is an issue- playground wood chips, etc. So he wears mainly See Kai Run shoes (I like these-they are rugged!)
When he is at home, he is barefoot, as that is the best!
My understanding is that barefoot or as close to it is best. We had to switch ds to a "real" shoes when he was 19 months because he simply has huge feet & I didn't have another choice. Even now though I try to let him go barefoot as much as I can.
My kid has huge feet too. He couldn't wear regular Robeez after about 15 months because the elastic left big red welts on top of his fat little feet. So we moved on to structured Robeez and then Stride Rite. Most shoes don't even fit him because his feet are so wide, but we've had good luck in Stride Rite wides, See Kai Run and Keens. And since I tend to have great luck finding second hand shoes we've not gone broke.
Honestly though he walks a ton with me when we are out and about. I don't think that Robeez are really made to go miles a day on pavement. When we are at home he wears Hanna Andersson leather soled slippers (and now that it is getting warmer he can go barefoot more).
Well, our little guy finally wore a hole in his Robeez, so based on the recommendations of many here on MDC, we ordered him a pair of Soft Star shoes. They came today, and I'm a bit startled by their stiffness. I know we're used to floppy Robeez, but these shoes are so much stiffer than I thought they would be!
Those who own and like these shoes - can you tell me if you find them flexible? We got him a pair of Ramblers, with a "soft, thin rubber sole", but I find them SUPER stiff! My son is walking around the house in them right now, and he's doing a kind of funny flat-footed duck walk.
Do these things loosen up? I think the soles are Vibram. I was, I guess, expecting something I could scrunch in my hand. Which is definitely not the case with these.
Any experiences with Soft Star shoes you can share?
We used soft soles until my boys were 4. My third child is a new walker and is almost always barefoot right now, but we have a few pairs of soft soles and will keep her in soft soles for a couple years. Pedipeds last longer than Robeez, IME, but only go up to 24 months. My favorite soft sole brand for big kids went out of business so we'll have to find something else after she outgrows the 18-24s.
My favorite shoes are the Smaller line by See Kai Run. They're AMAZING. They have a heavier weight suede sole than Robeez, don't leave red marks, aren't as easy to pull off (because Robeez were pretty much always in his mouth!) and they have small rubber disks that reinforce the shoe in teh areas that get most wear (the heel and the ball o the foot). If you go on the See Kai Run website, they run a "daily deal" that has one girls pair and one boys pair at 50% off every day. The selection changes. It's awesome. I just got Daniel shoes for the next 2 sizes for $17 a pair, which I know is not SUPER cheap, but it's also not full price.
The package the Smaller shoes came with said that the soles are water and weather resistant. I took that to mean that they're probably fine for a Seattle baby who typically rides in a stroller most of the day, is worn in a carrier, or hangs out in the car and only walks around outside a little bit and mostly walks inside (i.e. walks through the wet parking lot but then mostly walks at the mall). For anything more than that, they seem to not be enough. I know that I'd be really bummed out if my feet were getting wet! Since it seems like most babies start walking more full time between 18-24 months, it seems like that's the time to transition. There is definitely a difference, though, between really thick sneaker soles, and a thin and flexible Keen shoe, or converse, or Vans, or See Kai Run.
my 20 month old won't wear anything BUT Robeez. I dread the day we can't get them big enough anymore because she out right pitches a fit if we try to put on anything with any sort of structure to it.
Barefoot as long as possible is best. Seriously, until age 8 at the youngest they should be barefoot as much as society (school) will allow to ensure proper development of their feet! Our feet aren't fully formed until into our twenties, even.
Right, but I live in a big city. My kid can't be barefoot on the street.
It's frustrating that all the shoe manufacturers seem to stop making the Robeez-style really soft soles after the 18 month size. If anyone's still making shoes with Robeez-style soles in the 24+ sizes, I haven't been able to find them.
My son seems to be getting used to the Soft Star shoes and is walking fine in them now, but I still find the soles kind of stiff. Sigh!
I don't know about Soft Star, but DD's See Kai Run shoes were stiff at first and are now pretty flexible. They aren't as pliable as Robeez, but she seems pretty comfy in them. I would give it a few days.
We have had our little guy in Soft Stars since he outgrew the biggest pair of Robeez. Just FYI, they really love to help you out over the phone with fit and style recommendations.
I'm pretty sure they would have suggested that you purchase one of the moccasin styles (the Roos), not the Rambler, which is what they did for me when we were buying our first few pairs. The soles on the moccasins are either leather (thicker then Robeez and then with fleece inside for more foot protection) or fleece/leather and then a grippy T-Rex fabric that gives more grip and more moisture barrier. They are much more flexible then the Rambler while still offering significan foot protection and my little guy adjusted almost instantly. That being said, he got so active and so rough on his shoes that as he approached two years and 30 lbs we switched to the Rambler (and the Vibram soles) and his big feet have to go in their preschool Vibram sole, not the thinner Vibram sole on the smaller versions. I'll admit I was cheap and just bought the premade ones instead of the customs where I could have had them put the thinner Vibram sole on. I did it mostly because he was wearing holes in the leather and grippy bottoms before he outgrew the shoes and I thought that he could probably handle the thicker Vibram sole at that point.
So to sum it up, you can choose from a bunch of different soles depending on the size and style: thick leather with a sheepskin lining, thick leather with a sheepskin lining plus the grippy fabric, thick vibram with plain leather lining, thin vibram with plain leather lining, thick vibram with sheepskin lining and thin vibram with sheepskin lining.So you have a lot of options but you happened to have choosen one of the less flexible styles since it is on a vibram sole (don't know if it's thick or thin, depends on the size you bought). If you just really don't like the vibram sole you can stick to the Roo styles for a while. Our little guy wore his grippy soled ones through a very rainy cold pnw winter and did just fine (well, we wore the stonz boots when we went puddle jumping).
Hope that helps.
We kept DD in soft soled shoes until she was a very good walker, then started moving to progressively harder shoes. She started walking at 9 months and is now 26 months and wears any type of shoe. I was very careful to keep it flexible soled for a long time though and honestly she still spends a lot of time barefoot because we just aren't shoe people. :-P