The Hard Facts Behind Soft-Soled Shoes

why soft soles? Toddler walking in cream slip-on shoes.


 By: Jena Schultz, PT, DPT - Driving Development

When a little one begins walking, barefoot is best whenever possible. However, it isn’t always practical for a walking baby or toddler to be barefoot when outside of the home. I struggled as a pediatric physical therapist and a mother of two when dressing my babies for outings. I know hard soled shoes with narrow toe boxes that lack flexibility are detrimental to a baby’s early foot development, so I begrudgingly kept my baby barefoot as a new walker and followed him like a hawk watching his every step for hazards. It wasn’t until I found Sun & Lace with my second child that I fell in love with a shoe for new walkers. Not only are these shoes beautiful and perfectly designed, they also have all the components needed to ensure proper foot growth for a child’s developing foot. What sets Sun & Lace apart? A stylish, soft soled baby shoe with the flexibility to accommodate a child’s developmental needs while also perfectly providing enough structure for protection.

A Soft Layer of Protection

The benefits of soft-soled shoes for child development can’t be overstated. Soft-soled shoes are integral to proper foot development and alignment of a child’s foot. When a baby begins walking, the child depends on feedback from the ground for proper development of the intrinsic muscles of the feet and toes. A soft-soled shoe allows the baby to feel the dynamics of the ground beneath them while also maintaining a layer of protection when walking on uneven or irritating surfaces.

Unrestricted Growth For Natural Development

If you look at a baby's foot while he or she is standing, you’ll notice something different than the adult foot–the widest part of the baby’s foot is at the toes. This is the way our feet should develop, and footprints from our ancestors reveal toes that splay wider than the rest of the foot. It wasn’t until hard soled shoes with narrow toe boxes were developed that our toes were forced into a narrowing. This narrowing leads to many foot issues including, but not limited to, bunions, stress fractures and malalignment of the metatarsals (midfoot bones). We can form a good foundation for our littles by ensuring the shoes they wear are flexible, have a wide toe box and soft sole to promote healthy foot development. Sun & Lace shoes are not only flexible, but also have a wide toe box to allow the toes to naturally splay.

Develop From The Ground Up

Proper foot development forms the foundation for healthy gross motor development. An issue at the foot can throw the entire body out of alignment. It’s true–all things in the body really are connected. One of the best ways to support our child’s gross motor development is by allowing the foot to develop unrestricted. By creating a healthy base, we allow the rest of the body to grow and develop freely. The best way to do this is through a flexible, soft soled shoe.

Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on our next pair of Sun & Lace shoes for my little one. My favorite are the Rowans for first walkers. If you ask me which shoes are best for your baby, the answer is simple–Sun & Lace is the only way to go.



Jena Schultz, pediatric physical therapist

 About the Author:

Jena Schultz is a pediatric physical therapist with her doctorate in physical therapy. She is a pediatric clinician and owner of Driving Development, LLC (@drivingdevelopment) – a home health and virtual platform that encourages gross motor development through purposeful play. She works with children of all ages and diagnoses and is passionate about setting the next generation up for success by forming a firm foundation for them to grow & develop. She believes meeting milestones can and should be fun–and fashionable! This leads us to Sun & Lace– the only shoe brand she will recommend to her patients and clients that allows babies to continue proper development of their foot while aiding in meeting their developmental walking milestones.



Photo: Brittany Gilbert Photography


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