Review of Pedoodles shoes and age-by-age shoe guide

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I recently bought Jack some pedoodle shoes because they are pretty eco friendly. They use recycled leather and rubber which is nice and are supposed to have flexible soles. They also have velcro which is really easy to use and are pretty wide which is good for baby feet.

I think that pedoodles are great for people who want a more structured shoe, and would be better for slightly older toddlers, maybe at least 2-3 years old. I think at 18 months Jack still needs shoes that are more flexible. The leather upper part is not very flexible, so I think shoes like the Soft Star ones with very soft leather are ideal for where Jack is now. He was also able to pull off the velcro tabs but I imagine that’s the case with most velcro shoes. From my shoe experience so far (we’ve tried a lot of brands!), this is what I think worked best for us and what I’d do with a future child:

0-12 months: no shoes until baby starts walking. We just used socks with the skid-proof bottoms.

12 months-15 months (starting to stand/walk until they are really confident walkers): very soft shoes with leather all around (no rubber which while it can be described as “flexible” is never as flexible as leather or cloth). For the very early walking months I love BabyPaws which is formaldehyde-free leather and has velcro to have an adjustable fit. Leather shoes that are mocassin style with elastic closure like Robeez or the more nontoxic version, Bobux are adorable but didn’t fit Jack’s feet and aren’t adjustable. We kept Jack in all leather shoes for about 4 months. The shoes got holes after about 2 months, and also aren’t waterproof, but they are amazing in the learning to walk stage.

15 months-24 months (confident walker to runner):  Soft star classic shoes (ideally with velcro closure). They have a rubber sole which is flexible (but not as much as leather) and have a very soft leather top. They last a lot longer than the all leather shoes and don’t get wet when walking through puddles. We used these sometimes around 12 months if it was wet out but Jack was clearly more comfortable in the soft shoes until he became a proficient walker. The soft star company is my all time favorite for shoes- they have formaldehyde-free leather and are hand made in the US.

24 months plus: Stick with soft star, or try other shoes with “flexible” rubber soles and a more structured leather upper like the Pedoodles. The pedoodles are eco friendly and use recycled materials but they don’t use formaldehyde-free leather. FYI neither does Livie and Luca whom I also emailed.

DIY organic fabric wall decals

organic fabric animals on jack's wall

organic fabric animals on jack’s wall

We transitioned Jack to his new room recently, and I have been excited to make the decor more child-friendly. The room used to be our office so it was pretty plain, and it has large sliding wooden doors for the closet so I decided to use wall decals on them. We live in an apartment so I didn’t want anything permanent, and of course I didn’t want any toxic vinyl decals, so I started looking up fabric ones. However, the ones I found online that were nontoxic like these were adorable but pretty expensive! Most of them also seem to be made of polyester (not the most natural) and use water-based glue which seems ok but didn’t have an ingredients list. So I looked into DIY options and was so excited to find a really natural alternative that is cheaper and still cute!

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the sheep and duckling

Materials:

  • cotton fabric
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • optional: some kind of brush or foam brush like these 

Directions:

  1. Look around online for inspiration of what you want to put on the wall. Once you decide, you can search for “silhouette” of the thing on google images and pick one you like to copy. For example I searched for “bird silhouette” to find some birds I liked that looked somewhat realistic.
  2. Find some fabric or use some that you already have. I used lightweight cotton which worked well. For the birds I used an old organic cotton pillowcase and for the animals I ordered organic cotton fabric online from here.
  3. Draw the designs onto your fabric and cut it out. I just used a pencil and looked at the picture and freehanded it onto the fabric. After I cut the design out I erased the visible lines with an eraser. You can try to cut slightly inside the lines to skip the erasing step. You could also print the image out and cut it out and trace it.
  4. Clean off your wall
  5. Get materials for cornstarch glue. The ratio of cornstarch to water I found worked best after trying several was 5 teaspoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup water. If your project is big, double the recipe. If you use too little cornstarch (I tried with 3 teaspoons first) the decal may come off when dry, but you can just try again with more). If you use too much it might look slightly white.
  6. Take your 1/2 cup of water and microwave it for about 1.5 minutes so it’s boiling or very hot
  7. Mix 5 teaspoons cornstarch with a little cold water just to dissolve it
  8. Add the cornstarch to the hot water and stir (if it’s really thick add a bit more water until it’s like dense water, but not like jello)
  9. For small fabric pieces pour the mixture onto a plate and dip both sides of the fabric in it, then place on the wall. For large ones paint the mixture on the wall, put fabric on top, and paint mixture over the fabric
  10. Smooth the fabric so there are no bubbles, and if there is fraying go around the edge and push it back into the fabric
  11. Clean up the drips with a rag or paper towel- don’t worry if it’s not perfect because it dries clear
  12. Let it dry overnight
  13. Watch your child get excited about his new art which is totally edible if he (like Jack) decides to lick his animal friends!
    the turtle and rabbit

    the turtle and rabbit

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    Jack loves his new friends!

Review of Soft Star nontoxic children’s shoes

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Note: I didn’t get paid for doing this review, it’s just based on my own experiences

I spent a ton of time looking up companies that make kids shoes that are nontoxic and this one which makes shoes in Oregon is one of the best. I’ve ordered Jack two pairs of these adorable shoes from Soft Star shoes which are nontoxic leather without formaldehyde. I love how eco friendly the company is. Not only is their leather safely processed, but when I emailed them for more information about it they said:

Our leather is a by-product of the meat industry but we take every effort to use all of the leather (scraps for craft projects, schools, etc). We have a philosophy to  “walk lightly” on the earth and we do everything in our shop to do that.

I debated getting vegan shoes, but they are basically made from petroleum which is not eco friendly or safe for children.

Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • They look like old fashioned adorable moccasins
  • The laces make them adjustable (more than shoes with elastic which didn’t fit Jack well)
  • They are pretty weather safe for rainy days
  • The company has many options such as sandals, shoes with elastic or velcro, and boots
  • You can choose from a large array of colors
  • They are hand made in the USA
  • The company makes shoes for babies through adults

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Cons:

  • The laces take longer to tie up than shoes with velcro or elastic
  • They are a little pricey (this version is $30, but others are $40+)
  • For Jack, the shoes were too easy to pull off, so I punched some extra holes and fixed the problem, but I’m sure that depends on the baby (Jack has pretty chubby ankles so things slide off his feet easily)
  • The soles are flexible but not as flexible as 100% leather shoes, so I think these are best for children, not 1st shoes for babies. The company makes other all leather moccasins that have elastic closure that would be better for babies because they are super flexible, although maybe less weather resistant.
  • softer soled moccasins from soft star

Nontoxic children’s balls

Jack with the crocodile creek ball
Jack with the crocodile creek ball

Jack (16 months old) is obsessed with balls, so much so that “ball” is by far his most used word. I of course wanted to find a natural and nontxic ball for him to play with, so I looked into a bunch of different options. We have a dog that tries to steal and eventually chew up the balls, so I thought of getting Jack some wool dryer balls that are all natural, but I didn’t because of the dog. These for example are even organic, and I bet they would be great for babies since they are soft. You can even make your own at home apparently.

organic wool balls

These natural rubber balls also looked great, but I was worried that they would be too small so the dog could fit them in his mouth

natural rubber balls

There are also some plush organic balls like these, and I’m sure they would be great for babies.

organic ball

What we ended up deciding on was these rubber balls from Crocodile Creek which are made of natural and synthetic rubber because they are the most natural large non-plush ball I could find. I emailed the manufacturer and they sent me information showing that their balls tested free of any heavy metals. It would be better if they were all natural rubber of course, but this seems to be the best option if you are looking for a large ball that bounces. We’ve taken it outside and Jack had a great time bouncing it around. I especially like the world design because it seems educational! We got the 7 inch one which works well for Jack at 16 months.

crocodile creek ball

The other option we use often is letting Jack play with ball-shaped citrus fruits!3.5