Minimalist Shoes for Kids
After my post on my switch to minimalist or barefoot style shoes, I wanted to share what kind of shoes my kids wear. After looking through my photos from last year, it’s pretty clear that they actually don’t wear any shoes, as much as possible. They are just barefoot a lot.
They almost never wear shoes in our yard, and they pull them off everywhere we go. Sunny, in particular, removes her shoes in every indoor space including restaurants and shopping malls. While it’s annoying to lug her boots around in my purse, and while other moms give me dirty looks when I let my kids run around the playground barefoot in November (but not when there’s snow or ice on the ground, really, I do have limits), I’m still happy that they spend a lot of time shoe free.
I want my kids to grow up with strong feet as a foundation for a strong body. I want to help them avoid some of the issues I’ve developed after years of “supportive” shoes and stupid heels. So, when they do wear shoes (and it’s currently January, so it’s not like they have a choice) I want them to wear flat, flexible footwear that lets their feet do most of the work.
Here are my kids’ minimalist shoes:
Kidofit is a US based brand who makes shoes that are not only minimalist, but also really adjustable to grow with your kids. They have a removable (flat) insole as well as an adjustable heel strap. Sunny has been wearing hers for 9 months now and they are going to fit for months to come. This makes the $40 price tag much more reasonable. They are really well made so you know you will also be able to pass them down or resell them.
I did find that they fit big. I bought them in April and Ria didn’t fit hers until September, and they were still on the bigger end.
Based out of Vancouver, MyMayu makes boots that allow kids to roam through puddles, slush, snow, and probably shallow creeks without getting wet feet or losing their boots. I bought these a little big in the fall so that they could wear them with liners in the winter, and then without in the spring to get maximum use out of them.
I’ll admit that the price gave me pause (they are $90 each with the liners) but I am so glad I got them. My kids can run and jump and climb and just…move in them. They go up to their knees so we don’t even bother with snowpants when we’re walking to school, which also helps them move better.
Ria has started calling them her ‘superboots’ because she they let her play anywhere and still run fast. Seriously, have you seen kids trying to run in gumboots or Sorrels?
They run a bit narrow, so they are tough to get on with the liners. I almost think that next year I will skip the liners and just pick up a few pairs of good wool socks instead, I think that would be easier. Even so, Ria can get them on at school without help, so that’s good. Honestly, our winter has been so warm that they usually just skip the liners. I think it helps that they can move enough to keep warm!
So, I do highly recommend, even with the narrow fit. They are extremely well made, so that makes them worth the high price tag as they will get handed down for sure.
Most minimalist kids shoes are on the expensive end, but in the summer, you can also just get them water shoes. I got my girls Joe Fresh (Superstore/Extra Foods brand) water shoes for $8 each this summer, and at the end of the season found another pair for Ria for a dollar in the discount bin. I was impressed with how cute they were. As a bonus, the girls really loved them, and did everything in them this summer.
They were trashed by the end of the summer, so you can certainly tell the difference between these and the higher quality shoes. Kids go grow shoes so fast, it’s nice to have some cheaper shoes to fill the gaps.
Cute Winter Boots
We also have a couple pairs of cheap Ugg style boots for the girls (also from Joe Fresh). They are relatively flat and flexible. I don’t use these for active outings as they are looser and not waterproof, but they are great to pull on quickly and jump in the car to go somewhere. Also cozier. This style of boot is not always created equally however, which brings me to my final point:
How to Choose Minimal Shoes for Your Kids
If you are in a store, or evaluating the shoes you already have, here’s what to ask yourself:
Is the sole flat and flexible? – check to see if the heel is raised at all. Try and bend the shoe in half, or better yet, roll it up. The more flexible the better. Avoid insoles with a molded arch support (although sometimes you can just pull them out!).
Is the toe box roomy? – is there room for their toes to spread naturally? My baby toes curl in and under the toes beside them, I want to keep that from happening to my kids!
Do they hold securely to the foot? – Shoes like flip flops or crocs that fit really loosely require you to grip with your toes, changing your gait and messing with your feet. So sandals should have a heel strap.
Do they fit? – Make sure that their toes aren’t touching the top of the shoe, but that they are fitted enough to stay on well. Don’t let them be distracted by shoes that don’t feel right, they should forget they are wearing them. I know it’s tempting to buy big to get more wear out of them, but don’t push it. Buying watershoes in the summer can be a great way to keep them in shoes that fit without breaking the bank.
I hope I’ve inspired you to take a closer look at the shoes on your kids feet! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments