Did you know that a quarter of the bones in the human body are in your feet? There are over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that create 66 joints, with thousands of nerve endings that create feedback loops between our brains and feet. There is a lot going on down there!
The mechanics keeping us upright, balanced, and moving without us having to pay attention too much are incredibly complex. Ensuring that your child has ample opportunity to be barefoot in safe environments is key to encouraging healthy foot development. Along with the physical maturity, they will develop and gain more self-confidence by listening to and trusting their body.
But when they start walking and it's time for adventuring in terrains that require more protection, what kind of footwear is best? As these intricate processes are developing in childhood, it's important to choose footwear that balances protection with pliability.
For babies, a soft soled (leather or cork) shoe is ideal for little feet to move freely and discover the ground underneath with minimal sensory interruption. As they will be walking in these shoes minimally and wearing them for a short period of time, look for shoes made from natural materials with thin soles and flexible uppers.
As they grow older, children will need soles that will keep their feet protected but still provide flexibility for movement. We have fallen in love with the Jan & Jul Xplorer Knit shoes for a few reasons. The lightweight, flexible soles paired with a knit upper allows for great freedom of movement. Because they are breathable and machine washable, they are a three season shoe. Wear them with socks in the spring and fall, and without socks during the summer. Wear them as an everyday outdoor shoe or an indoor daycare shoe, or even as a water shoe when you're out at the beach. When it's time for a nice family occasion, toss them in the washing machine for a refresh!
Children's feet grow quickly, and you'll likely be buying shoes annually. This is one example of #buylesschoosewell. Look for a versatile option that meets many of your needs, rather than many options that each meet fewer needs. Especially in childhood when you will not be able to get multiple years out of a single pair of shoes like adults can.
Happy walking, running, balancing and exploring!