Until my son was 3, he mostly wore hand-me-down or gifted shoes that I happened to luck into. But after months of waffling over the price tag, I finally bought him some shoes made by the company Plae — these, to be specific.
Perhaps you’d like to know why a mom who rarely buys new or full-priced apparel for her kids (or herself, for that matter) will now happily drop $60+ on these shoes each time her son outgrows a pair.
Well, I’ll tell ya.
Let’s get this out of the way first: I did not get any money, deals or shoes in exchange for this post, but it does contain Amazon affiliate links.
1. Kids’ shoes should help kids move.
If you — a grown up — wanted to go on a long run or take an arduous hike, you’d make sure to wear comfortable and appropriate shoes.
Well, a young child is almost constantly doing the equivalent of jogging, parkour, or hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I understand now that appropriate footwear really makes a difference for kids. Here’s what I noticed after investing in better kids shoes:
The first time my barely-3-year-old hit the playground with his new Plae shoes, I was shocked when he walked — nay, RAN — right up the slide with no problem. That task had been oft-attempted and seemed impossible in his old boots. That contrast alone convinced me that I should have gotten him better footwear sooner.
If you can’t easily bend a kid’s shoe using your two hands, it’s not a good sign. My kid never tripped and fell as much as he did wearing pair of cheap, stiff backup sneakers. Plae shoes are as super light and flexible without sacrificing sturdiness.
It’s such a bummer to see a small child struggle to run because their shoes keep flying off. I think parents opt for slip-on styles because we like the independence they give kids. Well, it turns out that we don’t have to sacrifice fit for independence. Hear me out:
2. Kids shoes should be easy for kids to put on.
Plae shoes open up wide when they’re unstrapped. That means your little one can easily shove his own foot inside and secure the Velcro straps himself.
This seems like such a simple, essential feature for a child’s shoe. However, it’s widely ignored by manufacturers.
Most of the shoes my son has tried in stores look deceptively simple to put on, but actually require a lot of help from an adult (me).
Don’t discount the value of your child being able to put shoes on himself. The process of getting a toddler or preschooler out the door is hard enough without the part where you physically bend over and cram their feet into their shoes.
Frankly, I’d say it’s worth the extra $5/month or so that the Plae shoes cost over typically-priced counterparts.
Plus, your “big girl” or boy will be proud of their independence in the shoe department.
2.1 Wearability includes helping with which shoe goes on which foot.
Why don’t other little kids’ shoes make it easier for kids to figure this out?
I’m guessing it’s because most companies’ children’s shoes are just smaller replicas of their adult shoes — and they sell plenty by coasting on brand recognition without making them any more kid-friendly.
But companies like Plae are getting it right. The inner corners of all Plae shoes are slightly covered with hard rubber, and the stitching makes a U — or, as I told my son, a “smile” — when the shoes are on the correct feet.
He hasn’t put them on the wrong feet since I mentioned that. Just one less thing for us parents to deal with.
3. Kids’ shoes should be designed to get wet and dirty.
Small children will always love puddles and mud. It stresses everyone out when we have to worry that their shoes won’t recover from all the splashing and squishing.
Some Plae styles are actually designed to be put in the washing machine. These styles can get soaking wet and will be fine the next day as long as you take out the inserts and leave the shoes on a floor vent overnight.
Plus, because you can put them in the washing machine, you won’t get stuck with a lingering odor if they stay wet for a while or tend to be worn without socks.
And the sneakers CAN be worn without socks relatively comfortably. For me, that’s another big win, because I never seem to have clean children’s socks on hand even though they’re somehow also all over my floor.
Quality shoes are usually worth the price.
I know a lot of people who think it’s crazy to spend so much on a kid’s shoe.
However, another perk of high quality shoes is that they will survive one kid to be used by the next one.
They won’t be in perfect condition (washing them, in particular, leaves them looking a bit shabbier), and they might not have all their tread, but they’ll be around to help another kid run up a bunch of slides.
I think there are lots of gender-neutral styles, too, which makes them easier to re-use. You can even switch out the tabs to suit the next kid — Plae sells tab sets independently of the shoes.
Plae shoes probably aren’t the only brand that helps kids move, is easy for them to put on, and is designed to get wet and dirty, They’re the ones I happened to find and am happy with. If you know of another brand that fits this criteria, do me a favor and leave a comment below.
Here are a few Plae styles to check out if you’re interested. There are lots of color options for each style — click through to see them on Amazon.