How To Choose The Best Shoes For Your Child

You can find more littleRÜTZ healthy living resources on our Pinterest page!

You can find more littleRÜTZ healthy living resources on our Pinterest page!

You've landed here because you're looking for some answers regarding children's shoes. You're in a good place! I had these questions myself a while back—as my child started crawling my mind became inquisitive. Well, here's what I discovered from my research. Soft sole shoes, also called barefoot shoes, minimal or minimalist shoes appear to be the best choice for your growing child. If you want help choosing the right pair of soft sole shoes (and don't have time to read the research!) scroll down to find my, "Tips for choosing the best footwear for your child:" section! The following research prompted me to start this company, littleRÜTZ (pronounced: little-roots) with a focus on making healthy, toxin-free, soft sole shoes for children. So now that we have that out of the way, let's look at why soft soles are the healthiest footwear option! Firstly, soft sole shoes are the next best choice to being barefoot, which is what orthopedic specialists recommend. Here's why:

My little guy walking naturally in his littleRÜTZ soft sole moccasins. He wears them everywhere, and the best part, they stay on despite him being so active!

My little guy walking naturally in his littleRÜTZ soft sole moccasins. He wears them everywhere, and the best part, they stay on despite him being so active!

  • Soft-sole, or barefoot/minimal/minimalist shoes are designed to encourage the natural movement of the foot and are ideally made from natural, breathable materials. In the case of my company, littleRÜTZ, this material is vegetable tanned, toxin-free leather.
  • Orthopedic specialists have long understood soft-sole shoes to be the best footwear option for children as they learn to walk. When children can feel the ground beneath their foot, it helps with their proprioception (their understanding of where their foot is in space). When children wear large clunky rubber shoes, they lose the sense of where their foot is in space and trip more often, or worse, develop a pattern of walking that is unhealthy for the foot.
  • Research shows that children wearing minimal shoes have: improved foot muscle strength and flexibility, improved ankle strength and function, improved balance (better proprioception), and improved strength recovery and muscle tone particularly in those who previously wore rigid soles. 
  • Learning and playing shouldn't be encumbered by worrying about clunky or loose shoes. Choosing a shoe that is easy to put on and remove is essential. That's why I use elastic in my moccasins. I think it's the best material to keep minimalist shoes secure as well as safe from tripping or choking hazards.
  • Foul weather tip: During times of inclement weather (rain/ice/snow) you could choose to dress your walking child in his/her boots and then change into soft sole footwear upon arrival. I do this all the time with my son! This way they get to feel independent and experience their surroundings outside, but explore indoors without tripping on clunky boots. Many Montessori schools require this type of soft sole footwear indoors to encourage learning without worrying about laces and tripping hazards.

So what's the big deal with toxin free leather, you seem pretty stoked about it?

Here's the deal. The leather I source is worth getting excited about! It is currently the highest quality on the market in regards to animal husbandry, care of the environment, care of the people in the work environment that tan the leathers, as well as how it will affect the end user. Here's a few reasons why I love this leather:

Learn More About IVN Certification!

Learn More About IVN Certification!

Learn more about the ECARF seal!

Learn more about the ECARF seal!

  • The cattle are pasture-raised for meat. This is their primary purpose. Fact: People eat meat, and will continue to do so. Using the hide from this source is the most ethical option. I feel strongly about honoring animals by using every part of them, not just the choice cuts of meat.
  • The pastures and farms are evaluated for environmental impact. Runoff from large cattle operations pollutes surrounding waters and is a huge issue in our world today. Part of the IVN certification of this leather ensures that the farms manage these byproducts ecologically and thereby improve the sustainability of the operation.
  • The hides are vegetable-tanned without the use of heavy metals. More than 80% of leathers are tanned with chrome, a heavy metal, which has a terrible impact on the environment (mining operations) as well as factory workers inhaling this stuff. Chrome is found in the final product of 80% of the leathers on the market. Children are highly susceptible to exposure to heavy metals and yet it is in a lot of our consumer products such as footwear. I think this crucial information is not well known in our "fast-fashion" culture. A lot of people (I used to be one of them) operate under the assumption that we live in a highly regulated country that wouldn't allow the exposure of our children to toxic chemicals. Unfortunately this isn't the case. My hope is that more children's footwear companies will make the choice to switch to toxin-free leather to show they care for the environment and their customers.
  • This leather is certified allergy-friendly by ECARF. This means it is allergen-free. Not only that, but ECARF allergy-friendly products use resources responsibly and promote sustainable production practices. Funny how good, healthy business practices lead to a healthy, allergy-friendly product, right?
  • By purchasing footwear from companies using toxin free leather you are not only making the healthiest choice for your child but also the environment. What's not to feel good about that?

Tips for choosing the best footwear for your child:

Notice the wider toe box in the moccasins shown above? This allows for extra wiggle room for soft, growing feet! They're also shaped like the foot to reduce tripping hazards from using too much material.

Notice the wider toe box in the moccasins shown above? This allows for extra wiggle room for soft, growing feet! They're also shaped like the foot to reduce tripping hazards from using too much material.

  • Choose a company that uses toxin-free materials. Toxins like heavy metals can be absorbed via the skin. Shoes made from natural, breathable materials are the best to be in contact with your child's foot.
  • Allow plenty of room for them to wiggle their toes and grow. This includes socks as well. Children's feet are soft, tight footwear alters the natural development of their foot which can lead to issues later on.
  • Choose a shoe that is wide with lots of room in the toe. Children's feet are a different shape than adults and need more space in this area.
  • The upper portion of the shoe should be made from breathable materials like leather or cloth.
  • Looking at shoes with soles? The sole should be slip-resistant, no thicker than 6mm, have a low profile (no heels), and not include "molding" features like arch support. 

Additional research resources can be found online at the Unshod Organization.

10 Things Every New Mom Should Be Prepared For

Check out the littleRÜTZ Pinterest page for recipes, kids crafts and more!

Check out the littleRÜTZ Pinterest page for recipes, kids crafts and more!

This list is compiled from my personal experience but I think a lot of mamas can relate. These are some things I wish I'd known yet could never really have prepared for. Forewarning: I tell it like it is. Here it goes:

1. There are more fluids than anyone ever told you about, I'm serious. Blood, sweat, tears, breast milk, snot, fecal matter. There. I said it. Gross right?! Your welcome.

Jasper, one week old, love beyond words.

Jasper, one week old, love beyond words.

2. You will likely feel more love than you ever thought possible, like the highest high that can bring you to tears in a second (tears: see #1, fluids I tell ya).

3. The thought of being sent home from the hospital/birthing center/wherever with this tiny fragile human may terrify you! Where is the manual... why is there no manual?!

4. Trust your mama intuition or that "gut feeling". See #3, no manual. This means we must rely on our instincts, those primitive feelings that are hard-wired into us—how cool, am I right?!

5. Your relatives and friends are going to give you more unsolicited advice than you ever thought possible. Know they usually mean well. Hang on to only the tidbits you think you might find helpful and ignore the rest of it—what worked for them may not be for you.

6. Get help with meals. Accept any and all donations of food. Ask for help in this arena if you need it. People love to help parents of newborns, this is an awesome way for them to do so.

7. Stay hydrated. If you're lucky you'll get to nourish your newborn with your own milk, I found it requires LOTS of hydration to supply enough booby milk for your babe and also keep yourself hydrated and functioning well (or as well as any new mom can).

8. Sleep. Yeah, yeah, you've heard it before. But this is a serious one with major consequences—which is why you've heard this line a hundred times. Sleep whenever you can, however you can. For months the only way my little guy would sleep was on me, so I threw him in the sling on my front and would fall asleep sitting upright on the couch with him. See? Anytime. Anywhere. Get creative and make it your second most important job to keeping your little alive. I mean it.

9. Your relationships may become strained. Ahem, your relationships will become strained. See #8 up there? Sleep deprivation and its affects are FOR REAL. While you may normally be a happy-go-lucky kind of gal, a lack of sleep can turn you into a real-life zombie with anger issues. Say sorry, a lot. Then try to get some sleep.

10. It WILL get better. Those early days are the dark ages. SO hard yet, truthfully, filled with so much love. Then the sleep deprivation sets in and it can get seriously rough. It.Gets.Better. Hang in there mama. Truthfully, I didn't understand why people even procreated until my son was over a year old, it was that hard.

11. Ok, so I know I said "10 Things" but this last one is a bonus and SO important. Find a tribe of new mamas that are IN IT and not afraid to talk about the trials and tribulations honestly. Reach out. Make play dates. Go to the new mama support group at the Wenatchee Public Library. Being home with your child can feel isolating, but you're not alone, there are so many people out there to share this journey with. Benefits: friendship, community, perspective. Drawbacks: none. Do it!

Happy kid + mama wine + homemade pasta night = bliss!

Happy kid + mama wine + homemade pasta night = bliss!

My son is a happy, healthy, almost two-year-old now and I feel beyond blessed—like I never thought I could love being a mama this much. No matter what this parenthood journey brings you, no matter how hard it gets, it WILL get better. Hang in there. You've got this mama.

Homemade Diaper Wipes

Wanting a healthier alternative to store-bought wipes? Well heck! I can help you with that! These are also gentle enough to be used for removing makeup and have been a great wet-wipe substitute!

Here's what you'll need:

  • One or two large containers (think Costco Cottage Cheese size container)
  • Roll of paper towels, preferably the rolls with half sheets, sometimes called "select a size" paper towels (cut in half using a large serrated knife)
  • 1/3 cup melted Coconut oil (We get ours from Costco)
  • 1/3 cup Castille Soap (I use Dr.Bronner's Unscented)
  • 1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel (found in the natural foods section at many grocery stores)
  • 20 drops Essential Oils of choice (I prefer lavender and sweet orange in our wipes! *Please find a trusted source for your essential oils*) 
  • Jar to store diaper solution in (Images show a salad dressing jar but really a small canning jar would be easier since the solution becomes more solidified during cooler times of the year!)

Process: 

Mix the castille soap, aloe vera gel, melted coconut oil and essential oils together. Store in a jar. Don't forget to cut your paper towel roll in half using a serrated knife! It just won't fit if you skip that step, ha. Use approximately one Tablespoon of diaper wipe solution per container of wipes. Add aforementioned Tablespoon of diaper wipe solution to your container, then add 2 1/4 cups of warm water, stir to combine (or place the lid on and give er' a good ol' Tom Cruise Cocktail shake!). Place paper towels in the container, rough side down. Squish paper towels down until you can manage to get the lid on. Flip the container upside down. Come back five minutes later, flip right-side-up, and remove the inner cardboard tube from the paper towels, ahem, I mean, voilá— diaper wipes! Follow the images below if you're a visual learner!

Don't forget to follow littleRÜTZ on Pinterest to save this and other healthy living recipes!