By Maura Keating
It’s summer, well, mostly . . . Memorial Day is the unofficial start to our summer season. Now we can start wearing white (with the gracious permission of the Fashion Police), and we can wear sandals every day if we want to. And we want to. The best sandals allow you to feel like you’re not wearing shoes even when you are. The best sandals give you all the best that shoes have to offer (protection, support, comfort) and limit all of the bad (odor, heat, clamminess, blisters).
This is my son’s second summer. He didn’t take his first steps until the fall last year so we didn’t worry much about sandals. This year, my son is exploring everything that his little feet can possibly do–walking, running, hopping, skipping. He’s going to need sandals. I’m picky about all shoes. Feet are important and they have to last us a long time. Toddler shoes need to support growing feet that are just learning what they need to do.
If you are looking for the perfect sandal, try Umi Shoes. They are adorable and/or chic, depending on the look that you are striving for. My husband loves the look of my son’s Umi sandals so much that he wants a pair. Sadly, like so many good things in life, Umi is for kids only.
The Umi sandals were comfortable right out of the box. With two Velcro tabs, the sandals are easy to put on and easy to take off, but not so easy that they slide off. The Umi sandals are made from very soft leather that is easy on baby skin and leaves no red marks. My son has inherited his mother’s sensitive skin. Every summer, I have to endure at least one uncomfortable week while my winter-tender skin acclimates to strappy sandals, rocky beaches, and the other ordeals of summer living. When he wears his Umi sandals, my son’s feet are just as happy as they are when encased in shoes. We’ll have to see how he fares with rocky beaches in bare feet at a later date.
While the look and feel of the shoe are important, the sole of toddler shoes is the key element that can make or break a pair of shoes. The Umi soles are incredibly flexible and light, but they look and feel durable and they provide full coverage from anything on the ground. My son walks as easily in his Umi sandals as he does when he is sans shoe. In some shoes, his gait resembles a zombie’s stiff-legged stumble.
Umi shoes are a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. I buy expensive shoes for my feet too. Luckily, my feet aren’t growing as fast as my son’s–but I also don’t put my shoes through the obstacle course of wear and tear that my son’s shoes must endure. My son worn holes though two pairs of shoes before he grew out of them. He has been wearing his Umi sandals nonstop since we took them out of the box, and they still look as great as Day One.
Did you catch that nonstop part? Even if the weather is not cooperating with our optimistic summer forecast, my son insists on wearing his Umi sandals. It may be a little strange (and very granola-crunchy) to wear socks with your sandals, but as long as my son volunteers to put on shoes when we head out to hit the pavement, I’m not going to argue with success.
The Details: Umi Shoes, $38 and up at www.umishoes.com or at a store near you! Visit the “Retailers” link to find a store near you.
Want to win a pair of their pre-walker shoes? Here’s how:
– Visit www.umishoes.com and then email mailinglist (a) kidoinfo (dot) com (with ‘Umi Contest’ in the subject), and tell us where you can buy Umi shoes in Rhode Island.
– US entrants only.
– Entry period closes at midnight EST, Monday, June 9, 2008.
– Winner will receive a pair of pre-walker shoes of their choice, subject to availability.
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.