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Top three considerations when purchasing children’s footwear

Spring is here!  It’s almost Easter, and I’m pretty excited to celebrate Resurrection Day.

Remember when I told you I’m making Calvin a cute bow tie for Easter?  Well, I printed out the pattern and picked out a fabric (it’s just leftovers of fabric I already have, and something I know he likes).  So, that’s as far as I’ve progressed on this project.  My hope is to get it mostly completed on Wednesday when I have time to breathe.  Can’t wait to share photos of the project with you.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided I’m going to dress him up for the special day in a crisp, button-down white shirt and brown corduroys, because they will look great with his fabulous bow tie that celebrates spring.  Oh, and let’s not forget the shoes.  Calvin’s going to wear my favorite children’s shoes by Pediped, the chocolate brown Kyle with the khaki stripe accent plus Pediped organic cotton ribbed trouser socks (so soft!).

After reviewing several styles and brands of toddler shoes, I’ve settled on a checklist of the top three considerations when purchasing shoes for children:

  1. Shoes for babies and toddlers should have a soft and flexible sole that doesn’t restrict the development of a child’s feet.  It’s the next best thing to barefoot–the way feet were meant to walk and develop for form and function.  Pediped’s new Memory Foam Technology that allows the shoe to mold to a child’s foot creating a custom insole that provides the ultimate in comfort.
  2. Functional shoes for kids need not scrimp on style.  Kids (and parents) want fun styles that don’t bear yesterday’s faddish character.  A child’s taste in shoes may be as fickle as his appetite–pick out a style that will  last the long haul–or at least as long as his feet fit them!  For the record, I think Pediped set a benchmark standard for little girls’ shoes with their Couture department.
  3. Durability is essential for children’s footwear.  I love flexible and cute shoes, but if they look like they lost a fight with the garbage disposal after one outing on a gravel driveway, then they’re not very practical for an active toddler. Period. I want a pair of shoes that can handle a mud puddle and a run around the yard and still look fairly sharp.

Durability shouldn’t mean lack of flexibility or style.  I want the whole enchilada, all three wonderful features.  Pediped combines well-constructed flexible design with durability and cute styles for a 1-2-3 winning combination.  By far, I think Pediped shoes are the best kids’ shoe on the market, and well worth the investment.

Pediped styles vary in price from $34 to $52 and sizes range from 0-2 (age 0-3 mos) to 5.5-6 (age 18-24 mos) in the Pediped Originals (for babies, cruisers, and beginning walkers) to sizes 5 (12 – 18 mos) through 12 (age 5) in the Pediped Flex.

YOUR TURN: What features in children’s footwear are most important to you when you’re making a purchase?  How often do you encourage your child(ren) to walk barefoot?

Note: I received a pair of Pediped shoes and organic socks to facilitate this review.

Tuesday Travels: Step into Spring

Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a weekly series at Traveling with Baby.  This weekly series will also features ideas for local day trips and  travel tips for families with kids-in-tow.  You’ll also find related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

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Dapper

Snazzy

My incredibly handsome boy looks super sharp in his new Augustin shoes ($40) by See Kai Run.

The first Sunday he jazzed his toes with these ritzy See Kai Run shoes from their Spring ’10 collection, he dashed ahead of us in the parking lot…and, he scuffed his toe.

Isn’t that the nature of new children’s shoes.  They will get a nick or a streak within exactly five minutes of outdoor wear.

Okay, maybe that’s just me and my offspring.  I remember, as a child, wearing bright white shoes with bows on the front.  I pranced around in them and twirled in my spring dress.  Before church was over, I had at least three black scuff marks on them and the glaring eyes of my mother affixed firmly on my forehead.

It just runs in the family.  The tendency to scuff shoes…not the glaring eyes.  Really.

See Kai Run shoes and soles are super flexible and comfortable for small feet.  However, that soft and pliable leather also means they’re a little more susceptible to scrapes and scratches from the regular rough and tumble of little kids.

Honestly, I never noticed the lack of durability in See Kai Run until AFTER I posted a review of the Logan boots last summer.  Two weeks after that post published, I noticed the pretty gray toes of his boots were wearing thin to soft brown leather underneath.

See Kai Run children shoes show wear and tear faster than other toddler shoes on the market that were tested by my son. Must be due to the buttery soft sheepskin leather upper.  They’re soooo comfortable, but the drawback is that they’re a scuff-magnet.

Honestly, I’d rather have my son wear shoes that attract nicks and scuffs that also provide extreme comfort and flexibility and encourage proper gait patterns, than extra heavy shoes that cause him to walk around like he’s wearing buckets on his feet.

See Kai Run’s Augustin are hands-down my son’s favorite pair of shoes in his closet at present–a top pick among 5 brands and styles!

1) The best thing about See Kai Run? Their unparalleled design aesthetic in children’s shoes.  Gorgeous.  Stunning.

2) Second best thing is the comfortable, springy design.

In the future, I’d love to see the shoe designers find a more durable surface (brushed suede, perhaps), that takes the beatings of childhood with more grace than the smooth leather of the present line.  Other than that, don’t change a thing!

See Kai Run’s Ariana in orange

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

*WIN IT*

I’m sooo excited about spring!  I want to help you put some spring into your toddler’s step.  Traveling with Baby is teaming up with See Kai Run to offer a reader a pair of the fresh shoes (retail value $40) from Smaller or See Kai Run. Yay Spring!  ‘Tis the luck o’ the Irish! Happy Easter!

YOUR TURN: I want to know what See Kai Run or Smaller style and size would you choose for your little one? Also, what do you love about spring?

Extra credit:

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Follow @drdolly and @seekairun and tweet about this giveaway, then leave a second comment telling me that you did with a link to your tweet.

FOR A FOURTH ENTRY: Fan See Kai Run on Facebook for the latest glimpse into new styles and great savings!

FOR A FIFTH ENTRY: Fan Traveling with Baby on Facebook for latest recipes, giveaways, and more.

FOR A SIXTH ENTRY: Subscribe to Traveling with Baby by e-mail (upper right side-bar entry form).

Note: This giveaway closes at 11:59 PM on March 23rd. Winners will be selected via random.org shortly thereafter.

*I received a sample pair of shoes from See Kai Run for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
*UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner, #9 Jessica!

Tuesday Travels: Umi Shoes {Review}

Welcome to Tuesday Travels, a regular series at Traveling with Baby featuring ideas for local day trips and  travel tips for families with kids-in-tow.  You’ll also find get-up-and-go related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

Calvin’s Umi Shoes

At 28 months of age, Calvin’s tested a fair share of baby and toddler shoes from an assortment of brands.  From an experienced shoe-testing mama, what I like most about Umi is their commitment to the environment by using recycled packaging, and the non-toxic materials used in the manufacturing process–two things that are mighty high on my list.  Another plus is their commitment to safety and quality by running each pair of shoes through twenty quality checks.  That’s right…twenty!

Calvin’s tested the Major from Umi’s spring line of shoes for boys.  He likes the Major’s colorful brushed leather (amber-tan-chocolate) with contrasting royal blue top stitching. The Major style is also available in cognac/navy/stone–a great color combination for local UVA Cavaliers fans. Of his many shoes, Calvin often asks to wear his Umi’s.

As a mom, I like the durability of the shoes.  He can scrape them against gravel or kick a soccer ball, and they still look unscuffed and pretty darn new.  That type of top leather resiliency is unique in the world of soft and supple children shoes–especially when they go through the ringer from rough and tough boys.  If you’re looking for shoes that will last until your child goes through another growth spurt, Umi’s have the best durability construction that my son has tested in any shoes to date.

Is there room for improvement?  Sure, just like in any shoes, there’s always something that could be a little better.

As much as I love the quality of the hook and loop closure, the thickness of the straps makes it tough to loosen or open up the toe box enough to slide in a foot.  I really have a mild wrestling match with the shoe every time…so there’s little hope that my little guy will be able to slip them on by himself.  Also, as much as I love the durability of the shoe, there’s a trade-off with a more rigid rubber sole.  Compared to other toddler shoes, when my son wears his Umi’s, I can hear him plod around on the floor because of the stiff sole.  There’s less pliability for a gait pattern that encourages a child to roll the foot from heel strike through toe-off.  Instead, it’s more like the entire surface area of the sole strikes the pavement simultaneously.

Umi’s shoes for boys: overall

Overall, great, solid construction with a comfortable insole, and an upper that will endure the adventures of boyhood.  However, I’d love to see Umi develop a more flexible sole to assist young walkers with proper gait pattern instead of using a stiff, rubber material that actually inhibits proper gait development.

Lucien’s Umi Shoes

These were Lucien’s first shoes, so they have sentimental value. While he won’t take his first steps in these, and he will probably outgrow them before I can believe it, I will cherish these shoes from his baby days love after he has finished wearing them.

It took me a little while to even open the package – but once they came out of the box, I couldn’t help but put them on. I’ve taken him out and folks are exclaiming over his cute “sail” shoes in tan/chocolate.

I love these shoes for their soft materials and thoughtful details. When I first put them on I noticed little details like the tag in the back to give a helping hand to mom’s trying to gently maneuver the shoes onto little baby feet. Another thoughtful touch was the elastic that surrounds the top of the shoe around the ankle – allowing me to stretch open the mouth of the shoe to fit my son’s little, square baby feet in without pushing too hard. There is also a fair amount of flexibility in the sole as opposed to the toddler shoes which have to be more durable, and I found myself rubbing the tops of his shoes throughout the day because the leathers are so soft.

Another detail that I enjoyed, and this one purely fashionable, was the sole of the shoe – which has a playful design.

The moment I saw the appealing packaging and the size of his tiny shoes, I thought “what a perfect gift these would make for a new momma!” I’m looking forward to sharing Umi’s with other moms (and I know plenty) who will be having their children soon. I have many baby showers in my future and the cute packaging, complete with handle for easy carrying, invites me to drop a bow on top and take off to the party. While we both reviewed shoes from their boys collection, they have a lovely assortment of shoes for girls as well.      

Exclusive for Traveling with Baby readers
Readers of Traveling with Baby, will receive 10% off of fun footwear for thier little ones for spring with coupon code TWB315 valid March 1-15, 2010.  For more news on Umi, and additional savings, became a fan on Facebook.

YOUR TURN: What are the top features you consider when shopping for shoes for children?

*Two pairs of shoes were provided for the purpose of this review. Read the full disclosure policy.

See Kai Run, Jump, and Splash – Giveaway

logoLet your toddler run in style!  Any company who shares a middle name with my son is tops in my book (they already have great taste!).  But, how about flexible rubber soft-soled shoes that are stylin’?

skr-dominicEven if your little one can’t literally walk on water, at least he can jump in puddles and still keep his feet dry.

Forget booties, See Kai Run new fall line offers boots with soul for non-stop tromping fun.  The side zipper allows easy on-off, and for only $2 add the lux option of faux fur for extra warmth in the winter. There’s the mean, black, biker-inspired Dominic boot, and the purple grape star and striped Riley for your little fashionista, or the burnt orange Steph boots for your little Texas Longhorn.  That’s just a sampling–there are many, many more!

Bowling shoes meet bright, fresh colorful fun in the Bent, Boden, and Larkin styles.skr-yuna

Mary Janes—yeah, baby.  Work it.  So many darling styles for your little princess and diva.  I love the flower detailing on the black and white Emilie, and, the strappy, fire engine-red Yuna.

My son tried the Dominic with the faux-fur lining.  PLUSH!  Super toasty toes for a rainy autumn and snowy 420x300_julie_sidewinter.  I love how it’s easy to put ’em on with the side zip and how the flexible rubber bottoms move with his feet from heel strike to toe-off in the gait pattern of walking…perfect for a young toddler still figuring out his way with balance.

When you purchase a pair of stylin’ See Kai Run shoes, you’re also sharing a pair of shoes with a child in need.  For every pair sold on seekairun.com in the months of November and December, See 420x300_paul_pairKai Run will donate a pair to a child in need through Soles4Souls and local organizations in the Seattle, Washington area. It’s the season of giving – give a pair and share a pair!

See Kai Run comes in sizes 3 through 9, but check out their Smaller line for  infants and Eleven line for bigger kiddos (ages 3 through 8).

**WIN IT**

To enter, visit See Kai Run’s NEW Fall Line, then come back here and leave a comment on which style and size you’d love to win and who you’re winning it for.  Be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you, or another winner will be selected.

One winner will receive a pair of shoes from See Kai Run.  The winner can select any style, whether it’s the fall line or not.  Picking only one–that’s your toughest choice!

Only one entry per person.  Multiple entries will be removed.  The contest for See Kai Run shoes ends at 11:59 PM (EST) on November 13th.

The winners will be selected on Random.org and announced on this post shortly after November 13th. Provide your e-mail address, so I am able to contact you.  The winner has 72 hours to claim the prize, otherwise, the prize goes to another amazing participant.

–by Dr. Dolly

**UPDATE**

Congratulations to the winner! Heather Prenger who said, “I would love to try the Paul in size 4 for Jack! Lately he has been doing much better at keeping his shoes on! Good thing since winter is approaching!”