At Dotty Fish we are very excited to have teamed up with The London Podiatry Centre to produce a short video that educates parents about the benefits of soft soled shoes for children, especially in those early years. The London Podiatry Centre has one of the most sophisticated gait analysis systems in the world. They used this equipment to test Dotty Fish shoes and analyse the results. We have been so proud to be working with Consultant Podiatric Surgeon Ron McCulloch and Podiatrist Fran Campbell and see the benefits our soft soled leather baby shoes have for young children. The video talks about baby’s foot health and early foot development and how Dotty Fish soft soled shoes are an ideal choice for young children taking those first crucial steps.
At Dotty Fish we have long known the benefits of soft soled shoes for babies and early walkers. We have always designed shoes that not only look good but are also good for growing feet. It was important for us to have a look at the science behind our philosophy and to conduct podiatry testing on our shoes to see if they measured up. We worked closely with The London Podiatry Centre who are a world class clinic and specialise in paediatric podiatry. The results have been fantastic and really helped reinforce our belief in the benefits of wearing a less structured shoe. One that allows a child new to walking to develop these skills naturally.
We are keen to educate parents and childcare professionals on why soft soled shoes are better for developing feet. The anatomy of a baby and toddlers foot is different from an adult and we need to take this into account when buying those first few pairs of shoes. A baby’s foot doubles in size between birth and the age of 4 years. By their first birthday their foot is almost half the size it will be as an adult. Babies have 22 partially developed bones in their feet that are mostly cartilage while adults have 26 bones. This rapid growth and development needs to be kept in mind when choosing which shoes to buy.
Shoes for young baby’s and children need to be:
One of the big benefits of a soft sole shoes is the flexibility they offer. We know that barefoot is best, but this isn’t always practical in the artificial world we live in. Having a lightweight flexible shoe that protects babies delicate feet can be of enormous benefit. This is especially important when they are starting to crawl and walk. The thin, non-slip sole allows them to feel the floor beneath them while stopping them slipping and tripping. “I have a young boy of 2 who runs around the house on hard, unforgiving surfaces so there’s a potential to slip. He has actually slipped on a number of occasions. We tried different socks with limited success, and then we tried the Dotty Fish shoes which have been very effective actually” said Ron McCulloch, Consultant Podiatrist at The London Podiatry Centre.
The first few tests were all performed on a Tekscan pressure mat. This tested postural sway and how balance is affected by footwear. The results are very encouraging while wearing soft soled Dotty Fish shoes. This is probably because the shoe gives increased contact points around the foot, so children are more aware of their feet. Babies and toddlers process this information in their brains and the feedback they get is very important. A structured shoe may interferes with this proprioception and are therefore is not always recommended.
As children’s feet develop they need room to spread and move in as natural a way as possible. When they have soft, flexible shoes on the shoe allows them to do this without impeding natural foot movement. Ron explained “A key thing is actually that we don’t want to see any change between bare feet and the shoe. We just want to see normal natural function and to make sure that it’s not impeded by footwear and so far the results are encouraging.”
Once the testing using the pressure mat was completed sensors where put onto Carters little feet, legs and hips. The 8-camera 3D Vicon system was then used to capture him walking with soft sole shoes and without shoes. This information was analysed, and an in-depth report was produced. It was fascinating to see the images of Carter reconstructed as a 3D figure and to see the data on screen. You really get a sense of how toddlers earn their name as his walking style was reconstructed on screen.
Fran Campbell, a podiatrist from the centre, carried out a lot of the testing and prepared a detailed report once the clinic had analysed all the data. The report is overwhelmingly positive and really demonstrates the benefits of wearing soft soled shoes in those early years. An improvement in hip and knee symmetry was noticed when wearing Dotty Fish shoes. The pattern of movement in the ankle was also much better when wearing soft soled shoes.
Another key finding was that the shoes did not cause any disturbance in normal gait and in a number of areas it had improved. This may be as a result of the shoes improving a child’s sense of awareness by increasing the number of contact points between the foot and the floor. This was stressed during testing, the aim is to see children walking as close to naturally as possible while reducing the risks of slipping and protecting their feet. Dotty Fish Soft soled shoes definitely do this as shown by the testing and results.
The full report can be seen here.
It was lovely to meet Carter, one of our young brand ambassadors who came along to the clinic to test our shoes. At just 13 months old he was the perfect age to test the benefits of soft sole shoes for early walkers and he loved his Dotty Fish shoes. He happily pointed out the panda on them and his Mum could easily put the shoes on. No pulling away and scrunching his toes up as she tried to jam his foot into a structured shoe. At Dotty Fish we have been so impressed with the testing and the results. We are keen to get the message out to parents and to re-educate people on babies foot health. We want to give people the information needed to make an informed choice when buying footwear for young children. Dotty Fish want to create a movement, one that looks at what is best for baby’s feet.
“My first impressions from the “Dotty Fish” team were that they were very very behind this product and that it was something that was so important to them, it was actually something to help children’s foot health going forward,” said Fran. The Dotty Fish team have been really proud to be working with such a world class clinic. Both Dotty Fish and The London Podiatry Centre are looking forward to taking this research further and assessing shoes and early foot health in the future.
We hope you have found our video useful, it is available on YouTube and you are welcome to share it on social media. It has lots of information to help re-educate parents on the best kind of footwear for their young children. We are trying to get as many people as possible to make better footwear choices for supple, developing little feet. 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