For a long time I absolutely dreaded when it came time to buy new shoes for my oldest, Leo. The process of picking out shoes was a nightmare. He has normal width feet but an extremely high instep and this causes a lot of shoes to not fit at all. Usually the velcro wouldn't strap because it wasn't long enough to go over his instep or if it did, it would constantly be coming undone as he walked. It was massively frustrating for him and me. We tried going to the expensive high street stores where they measured his feet and he would try on every pair they offered with no success. We would go to the cheaper shoe stores with a bigger selection and maybe end up with something only to have it fall apart in 2 weeks. And of course because his shoes never fit really well, he was always complaining that his feet hurt when we would go for walks.
Just over a year ago, I finally turned to the internet and discovered the idea of barefoot shoes. I found Happy Little Soles, a retailer that specialises in barefoot shoes for kids. I was HUGELY skeptical about buying shoes online at first. I thought if we can try on every shoe at the store and not have a single one fit, how can I possibly order a pair off the internet and get ones that are okay?
It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Using the sizing guide on the website I measured Leo's feet, read all their recommendations and looked for shoes in his size that were labeled as being suitable for high insteps. We ended up with Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove Grisaille (sadly not made anymore). As soon as Leo tried them on he was delighted with how they felt. I was blown away. All complaints about his feet being tired stop, no matter how far we walked, and he wore those shoes until they were falling apart. When that happened, we happily bought the exact same pair in the next size up.
We also turned to Happy Little Soles when it came time for our first pair of school shoes. That experience sold me on never buying shoes from anywhere else again. When we got the pair in the mail, Leo wasn't quite sure about them and was complaining that they rubbed against his toe. I was pretty sure I had the right size but I emailed Kate with his foot measurements and asked her advice -- I couldn't tell if we were dealing with first-time-going-to-school nerves or if there was actually something up with the fit. She advise me to take the removable sole out and have him stand on that so I could see how much room he had in the shoe. Sure enough there was more than enough room around his toes and with a bit of adjusting of the straps and more walking around he said the shoes were fine. He's been wearing them for 7 months now with no complaints. Kate's calm and thoughtful response to me was just what I needed during the stressful period of a child starting school for the first time! (As an aside, I think the problem is that they are much firmer than the Merrell shoes he normally wears because every time he has two weeks off school, the first time he puts his school shoes back on he complains about them feeling funny around his toes.)
My youngest son is also thrilled with his shoes from Happy Little Soles. He's on his third pair from them now and he likes sitting at the computer with me picking out which ones he wants. HIs feet are a lot easier to fit but I like the control of picking the exact length that I need rather than some arbitrary size which varies from brand to brand anyway. The range of shoes offered is huge and I think there is a really fun selection to pick from.
So far we have bought 6 pairs of shoes from Happy Little Soles and I couldn't be happier. I will keep buying shoes from only them until my kids' feet are too big to do so.
I was not asked or compensated in anyway to write this review. I've just found a company that I love and I want to share it with you in case you have the same shoe struggles we do.