We are obsessed with Soft Star shoes at my house, and have tried a number of different styles. I thought it might be helpful to do a comparison post in case people are curious about differences between the shoes. The ones we have tried are the Classics (both with velcro like the brown one above and with laces), the rambler (blue one above), and the sandal with elastic (black one above).
Overall, our favorite has been the classics with velcro. They open up really wide so they are the easiest to get on. The ramblers open using elastics but they require a bit of a squeeze to get on, at least for us. The sandals are probably in the middle in terms of ease of putting on. Our 2 year old can’t put any of them on by himself though.
We also like the classics because they prevent sand from getting inside since they are closed all the way around. the Ramblers actually have an open slit along each side. We greatly prefer the velcro opening over laces because it’s so easy to close. The laces are a lot cheaper, but you have to tie them each time which ends up being a pain on a wiggly toddler.
In general the shoes are expensive, but they last us a long time and don’t look worn out. They are also easy to clean with a damp rag, and look as good as new even after a hike.
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.
Jack wearing his baby paws
When Jack started walking, I researched a lot of brands to find non-toxic soft soled shoes for babies. I previously reviewed SoftStar shoes which I liked for their leather shoes with rubber soles that work well in wet weather. However, for completely soft everyday shoes my favorite brand is Baby Paws. I didn’t get anything for writing this review, but I wanted to share information in case anyone else is looking.
- The shoes are made of formaldehyde-free nontoxic leather
- They are also chromium-free and pass tests for acetaldehyde and glutaraldehyde
- They are hand made in Australia
- Most of them have velcro which works well because you can customize the ankle opening size (Jack’s ankles were too chubby for moccasin style shoes!)
- They are completely soft leather all around and are the closest things to socks I’ve tried
- They are easy to put on (our soft stars with laces are a little more time consuming)
- Because they are so soft they wear out faster- ours got holes in about 2 months
- The lighter colored shoes look dirty easily
- They are a little pricey, but there are also often sales
- The sizes only go up to 24 months (soft star goes up to adult)
Overall we have loved them and are on our 2nd pair already! Jack even brings me his shoes to put on when I say we are going for a walk.
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:
- 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
- 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