Here at Dotty Fish we have always believed that a soft sole baby shoe is best for babies and toddlers as their feet grow and develop. Our soft leather baby shoes are lightweight and flexible and designed with growing little feet in mind. So we decided to put our baby shoes through their paces and teemed up with the experts at The London Podiatry Centre to get their stamp of approval for our footwear.
A short video showing the testing and the benefits of soft sole shoes for babies, toddlers and young children can be seen below.
The London Podiatry Centre used sophisticated gait analysis technology as well as a pressure matt system. They used this equipment to test Dotty Fish shoes and analyse the results and compare them to barefoot 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 babies 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.
KEY BENEFITS OF SOFT SOLE SHOES
The anatomy of a baby and toddlers foot is different from that of an adults. This needs to be taken into account when buying those first few pairs of shoes.
A babies foot doubles in size between birth and the age of 4 years.
By their first birthday, a baby’s 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 an adult has 26 bones.
This rapid growth and development needs to be kept in mind when choosing which shoes to buy. Having a shoe that restricts foot development or growth can have long term effects on a child’s feet.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FIRST SHOE
When buying those first pair of shoes for little feet it is worth remembering that barefoot is usually best. Shoes provide protection and warmth and shoes for babies, toddlers and young children should be:
Flexible so feet aren’t restricted.
Lightweight - allowing for natural ankle, knee and hip movement.
Wide around the toes to allow feet to spread when standing.
Thin soled so children’s toes can grip the floor in the same way as if they were barefoot.
A snug fit so they don’t come off without restricting movement or growth
Made from a breathable, natural material like leather or canvas.
Knowing that all Dotty Fish soft leather baby shoes, slippers and rubber soled toddler shoes have been podiatry tested and approved is reassuring for parents. You know you are buying a pair of shoes that not only looks adorable but is actually good for your child’s feet. The testing really reinforced our belief that barefoot is best and that a less structured shoes in the next best thing for growing little feet.
HOW DOTTY FISH SHOES WERE TESTED
Podiatry testing is not as simple as you may first think. The first few tests were all performed on a Tekscan pressure mat. This tested postural sway or balance and how this is affected by footwear. The results were very encouraging while wearing soft soled Dotty Fish shoes. This is probably due to the fact that the shoe gives increased contact points around the foot making children 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 interfere with this proprioception and is therefore 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 a soft, flexible shoe on the shoe allows them to do this without impeding natural foot movement. Ron explains, “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 pressure mat testing was complete they put sensors onto Carter’s feet, legs and hips. The 8-camera 3D Vicon system was then used to capture him walking with soft sole Dotty Fish shoes and without shoes. This valuable 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 got a sense of how a toddler earns their name as his walking style was reconstructed in 3D on screen. This test was done a number of times with Carter toddling
One of the big benefits of a podiatry tested soft sole shoe is the flexibility they offer. We know that barefoot is best, but this isn’t always practical in the artificial modern world we live in. Having a lightweight flexible shoe that protects babies delicate feet can be of enormous benefit. This is especially true when they are starting to crawl and walk. A thin, non-slip sole allows them to feel the floor beneath them while not 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.
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. The reduced risk of slipping and tripping was also highlighted as a key benefit of wearing Dotty Fish soft soled shoes.
Another key finding was that the shoes did not cause any disturbance in normal gait. It was also noted that in a number of areas walking style 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 something that 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.
It was lovely to meet Carter, one of our young brand ambassadors who came along to the clinic to test our shoes. At just 18 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 podiatry testing and the results, and are eager to get the message out to parents and re-educate people on babies foot health. Giving parents the information needed to make an informed choice when buying footwear for young children. We want to create a movement, one that looks at what is best for babies growing little 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.
The London Podiatry Centre has one of the most advanced dedicated podiatric gait facilities anywhere in the world and have a wealth of information available for parents here.
The results of the podiatry tested research has been documented in a full report which can be viewed here.