At Dotty Fish we are very passionate about foot health in young children. This is such a crucial time for development and this is just as true when looking at their feet. We know that barefoot is best, in fact walking around without shoes on is often the best thing. As a footwear brand it seems strange to be advising parents to allow children to walk around without shoes on, but it really does help them with their development. When being barefoot isn’t possible then having a soft soled shoe is the next best thing. Below we look at the ages and stages of development and what this means for footwear choices.
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is full of excitement and anticipation. The list of things a new baby needs in today’s modern world is staggering and there is so much choice out there. The one thing they don’t generally need at this stage is shoes. Their tiny little feet most definitely don’t need to be encased in a structured shoe that restricts movement. All they need is something to make sure they are kept warm and protected. As adults we are often tempted to buy fashionable trainers or pretty boots but if we really want to buy shoes for this age group then a very soft shoe made from a breathable material like leather is much more suitable. Baby-grows and clothing also needs to be kept loose around their feet. A baby’s bones are still developing and are made from cartilage which is too malleable to be restricted by a shoe or tight clothing.
Babies range of vision is broadening, and they can concentrate and focus on objects and follow movements. As their eye sight develops they are attracted to monochrome and bright colours. Our shoes have been designed to look cute, but they also have the added benefit of keeping babies amused as they kick their legs and watch their feet. Between 4-7 months babies are usually able to sit up and they will often reach out and grab toys and objects within their reach. This includes their feet and kicking or pulling off socks becomes a favourite pastime. Dotty Fish shoes all have an elasticated ankle trim which means they are comfortable to wear but also don’t get kicked or pulled off.
By 6-8 months babies can transfer objects from hand to hand, turn them around and twist them upside down. Babies also discover their feet and toes during this stage. You may also find your baby sucking their toes – they put everything into their mouth including their feet! This is the reason we ensure our leather is tested to REACH Annex IIVX guidelines and is baby safe.
Babies start to crawl at around 6-10 months. They are often surprisingly agile when crawling and can move very quickly. Everything moves up a level in the house and you start to notice all the things that tempt your baby to move at lightening speed across the room. At this stage the top of their feet is the area that needs protecting and having a soft soled leather baby shoe is ideal. They are comfortable to wear while not restricting their growth and movement at all.
As they are crawling around and exploring the world their legs also need a little extra protection. We have some lovely legwarmers and leggings that are perfect for this. They can be layered over outfits and add extra protection while they are on the move. Legwarmers can also be worn alone and make changing a nappy very easy!
As babies grow in confidence they start to pull themselves up on furniture and toys and they cruise around. This funny crab like walking while holding onto furniture is a crucial time for foot development. As they are standing their feet need room to spread out, having an unstructured shoe allows this to happen without restrictions. They also need to feel the floor beneath them allowing their sense of balance to develop. Having a heavy sole at this stage really interferes with this process. All Dotty Fish shoes have a suede sole that allows babies toes to grip the floor and allows them to get the feedback from the floor and develop their sense of balance naturally.
Slipping and falling when they are finding their feet is very common. Having a non-slip sole on a shoe gives them the ability to explore without falling over quiet so much.
This is the time that babies find their feet and start to toddle. Those first steps are such a huge milestone and is one that is always memorable for us as parents. We often celebrate this milestone with a trip to the shop for our babies first pair of shoes. We worry about them standing on things, falling over and needing to protect their feet from the artificial world around us. While this is all done with the best of intentions experts now agree that walking around barefoot is actually far better. We realise that this isn’t always possible as our world just isn’t designed for it. A toddler’s delicate feet need protection and warmth.
Dotty Fish shoes are designed especially for these early walkers. Made of soft, breathable leather allowing feet to grow and develop as nature intended while protecting them. They have a lightweight non-slip sole, so they are steadier on their feet. All our shoes have a wide toe area that allows feet to spread when standing and allows babies and toddlers to grip the floor in a natural way.
All these features have been put to the test at The London Podiatry Centre as our shoes were tested and approved by the experts. The results have been encouraging, and we are very proud to have teamed up with them. You can read all about the testing and results here.
As toddlers get more confident on their feet they start to walk and run with confidence. They have a different walking style to adults and tend to swing their legs from their hips rather than walking from heel to toe. This movement together with a heavy head means that they are often tripping and falling. A shoe with a very heavy tread can make this movement stop suddenly increasing the chance of tripping. With Dotty Fish shoes they have a non-slip sole that doesn’t have too much grip. While our shoes are great for indoor use and light use outdoors they may not stand up to the rough and tumble of a toddlers day outside. Shimmy Shoes where developed as a lightweight outdoor shoe for toddlers. They have a rubber sole that is still very flexible and less structure than a traditional first shoe while having a sole that allows toddlers to explore indoors and outside with confidence. Shimmy Shoes have toddler friendly Velcro fastening so they are also easy for toddlers to put on themselves.
At this stage toddlers are developing independence. This is a fantastic age full of learning and its magical to watch your little one master the world around them even if it is at a slower pace than you would like! Putting shoes on and taking them off is one of those challenges that toddlers love to tackle. Dotty Fish shoes have an elasticated ankle trim, so they aren’t kicked off easily. This also means that they are easy for toddlers to put on and take off. They also come in a variety of designs that toddlers love. Many of our review include names like ‘Roar Shoes’ ‘Dig Dig Shoes’ and ‘Brum Brum Shoes’. It’s nice to know that our shoes are loved by parents and toddlers alike.
At this stage children start to communicate and are moving from toddler-hood to childhood. Language explodes during this year and children can communicate their needs much more effectively. They start to express their likes and dislikes and the word ‘no’ is a firm favourite. Their feet are more developed and walking is much more confident with less slips and trips happening.
Their feet start to look more mature, but it is still important to allow them to walk around barefoot as much as possible. Our shoes are great for wearing to preschool and play group when the risk of germs is higher than at home. Soft leather shoes are ideal for keeping little feet warm on colder days and our fleece lined slippers are great for winter. The lovely designs still appeal to children of this age and they also love the comfort of our shoes. Our butterfly shoes have also helped little ones learn their left from right.
Traditionally by this stage children will be wearing structured shoes most of the time. While they are running around, climbing and spending more time in social situations at preschool it is still good to be barefoot as much as possible. Consultant podiatrist Ron McCulloch from The London Podiatry Centre has highlighted the benefits of soft soled shoes and also noted the risk of infection when walking barefoot. Our shoes provide the perfect solution. They are great for indoor use and offers protection from the environment while still allowing feet to develop naturally. Another thing to note is that feet are growing rapidly at this stage and it’s important to check their shoe size regularly to make sure that socks and shoes can accommodate their growing feet.
We are seeing more and more demand for our shoes in larger sizes as parents and childcare professionals are becoming more aware of the benefits of less structure in footwear. The barefoot movement and education is having an impact on the choices we are making when it comes to children’s footwear. At Dotty Fish we are proud to be a part of this movement, helping to educate parents about the right kind of footwear for babies, toddlers and young children.
Use our hashtags #softsolemovement and #dottyfishmovement on social media to spread the word. Let’s get those little feet into shoes that are protecting their feet while being as close to barefoot as possible.
The Dotty Fish Team