Can you tell the difference between a toddler shoe that aids development and the impostors who pretend to?

We’re very aware that when it comes to toddler and pre-walker shoes, our slip-on-sock-shoe-hybrid certainly isn’t unique. This style of shoe is quick and easy to put on and take off, is soft and pliable, and usually available in a whole range of cute designs. It’s manufactured by many different brands worldwide, and we’ve seen them priced anywhere from $10 to $50 plus.

You’re probably wondering how shoes that appear to be basically the same can be so many different prices. We wanted to be able to give you some cold hard facts, so we set out on a mission to purchase as many different brands as possible, compare, and report back. Here are our findings:

1) The materials are not all the same

Here at BigToes, all our shoes are manufactured without any glue. Crazy, right? When we tried and tested some other brands on actual little feet, we found one very obvious side effect of using glue….the smell.

Our findings showed that when the glue combines with the sweat from toddler feet, it causes some sort of chemical reaction resulting in a strong, chemical smell. We put them through the washing machine, but it didn’t make a difference. To make the comparison as accurate as possible, we took a pair of our shoes and put them through their paces more than anyone probably ever would. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t re-create the smell.

The BigToes outsoles are all made from glue-free TPE, a material that provides the right amount of grip and remains safe for humans.

2) The shape of the toe

There’s a reason our brand is called ‘BigToes’. The ‘big toe box’ in our shoes allows little toes to fan and stretch, an essential action for developing balance, coordination, and motor skills. This design comes from Japanese patent number 2003-61702 and is not included in almost all the shoes we tried. When toes can’t stretch, wiggle, and fan, it can seriously inhibit development, and at such a crucial stage of their little lives. Not only that, it’s uncomfortable (and we all know an uncomfortable toddler is a cranky toddler). This is not what you want during a family fun day out!

3) The amount of support

There may come a time where your kids need an ultra-supportive shoe, but unless they have some medical reason as to why, the toddler stage is not one of them.

All of the research in this area overwhelmingly indicates that barefoot walking is best for the development of this age group. Obviously, being barefoot all the time just isn’t practical. However, knowing this makes it easier to understand why too much support in a shoe can be detrimental at this stage. Shoes that cover the heel, ankle, or are stiff and rigid, weaken muscles and do nothing to increase natural stability. The feet, ankles, and legs begin to rely on shoes for stability, resulting in weak and unstable joints.

BigToes shoes have only enough sole to protect feet from the dangers that live outside, without over-supporting the foot. This is one of the main ways they mimic barefoot walking.

4) Whether or not they have holes

This probably sounds insane but humour me and hear me out.

These types of shoes need holes. I’m not talking about ratty, wear-and-tear holes, but sneaky vents that allow air and bacteria to escape. Trapped bacteria can lead to infection and illness, as well as a smell that can clear a room.

BigToes shoes have inconspicuous vents built into the sole, preventing germs that fester and lead to illness and infection.

There’s so much that goes into the design of a pair of BigToes, which is why we’re the only brand endorsed by physiotherapists, podiatrists, and chiropractors. While others may appear the same as ours on face value (and even have some of the same designs), if they’re not BigToes, they’re impostors.

Is saving a few dollars really worth the risk?