Ever since my wife and I started trying out various “barefoot” shoes after reading Born to Run, my now-six-year-old daughter has been clamoring for barefoot shoes of her own. After all, she says, if this sort of shoe is supposed to be the best thing for your feet, why don’t they make them for kids? She’s got a point.
The Vivo Barefoot line by Terra Plana now has some selections for kids. We were sent a pair to try out and my daughter has been loving them. Like the grown-up versions, the kids’ Vivo Barefoot shoes have a thin puncture-resistant layer with a flexible, abrasion-resistant sole. The removable insole uses the Agion anti-bacterial lining, and the fabric lining of the shoe is made with 50% recycled plastic bottles. There’s very little in the way of arch support—the shoes are designed to be as close as possible to being barefoot, but without the danger of cutting up your soles.
According to Terra Plana, there are lots of advantages to “going barefoot,” including heatlhier kids, stimulating the nerve endings in the soles of your feet, building up muscles in the feet, and encouraging proper posture. Of course, now that it’s summer, maybe your kids are running around outside, really barefoot. I know that’s what my wife did growing up. On the other hand, I was always told to wear shoes outside, so my soles are tender and, well, wimpy. If I knew that the streets and sidewalks were always clear of things like broken glass, I might let my kids run around with no shoes, too. For now, though, this may be the next best thing.
When our kids were first learning to walk, we always liked Robeez, those leather slipper-like shoes for babies. Aside from being really cute, they’re pretty much like leather socks, which we figured was much better for learning to walk than stiff sneakers that, proportionally, were like wearing platform shoes. And we have found that Robeez do come in larger sizes—we got some for our three-year-old recently because she really liked the ones she’d recently outgrown. However, what we found with Robeez is that while they’re fine for kids learning to walk, once you’ve got a kid who’s running, they’ll wear through the suede soles in no time.
The Vivo Barefoot “Pally,” a Mary Jane style shoe, has quickly become one of my daughter’s favorites. Although they’re not sporty shoes, she likes to run in them, and today even wanted to wear them to the pool (though I vetoed that idea). Our three-year-old is jealous, but at the time we didn’t think they had them in her size. According to the website, though, the smallest size available now is a US 10.5, so the little sister might be in luck.
There are a couple different styles available for both boys and girls, both dressy and casual, with prices ranging from $60 to $90. The sizes range from European 27 to 34. Now, I have to admit that it seems a little steep for kids’ shoes. (Up until recently, I felt that $60 was a bit much for shoes for me, let alone something my kids are going to outgrow quickly.) The barefoot soles and the earth-friendly construction do make the shoes worth more to me, but it might be hard to justify if your kids are in a fast-growing stage. Our six-year-old’s feet haven’t been growing very quickly so her shoes have lasted a while—and then we’ve got a three-year-old for the hand-me-downs, too. If not, the price might be more of a barrier.
Wired: Finally, barefoot technology in kids’ shoes! Eco-friendly and stylish.