Minimal Shoes for Toddlers

DIY minimal waterproof shoes for toddlerOur son Ethan turned one at the end of December this year and since he has started walking he sometimes needs shoes. He had a little pair of leather Nike shoes that were perfect for him whenever he needed some protection from either cold or rough ground. It has been a very mild winter so he has had a chance to get out and test his walking skills outside. Unfortunately he grew out of them and also wore a hole in them as well. Regardless of the mild winter it’s still too cold and wet for him to just go barefoot. The only pair of shoes we had for him was a pair that was given to us. They are thick soled, stiff shoes. They are good to keep his feet warm but the poor kid has a hard time walking in them. His balance is diminished and he seems to trip on every little thing. I knew he needed a good pair of mini minimal shoes!

He is at an age where he loves to go outside and he LOVES adventures! We couldn’t just get some cheap baby shoes that were flexible. He needed something to help him stay warm and dry. He needed something durable. I decided that I would try making a pair of shoes for him. I make sandals… why not shoes? I bought some PUL material which is the same stuff they make outer shells for cloth diapers. It is a polyester knit material that is laminated with polyurethane. It’s cool because it is waterproof and breathable while allowing the fabric to stretch. I watched a Youtube video of a guy making leather shoes for his kid and based my design off of his. The end result didn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned it but it was all an experiment anyway. I think they turned out pretty well considering that I made it all up as I went!

DIY minimal, waterproof shoes for toddler

The webbing loops turned out pretty big but it makes them easy to put on.

It’s nice for him to be able to walk around and not trip so much. The features of the shoes include waterproof PUL uppers with cotton flannel lining, elastic straps over the top to keep them on and for easy donning/removal, webbing loops at the heel (that was an afterthought), and 4mm Cherry Soles. The soles, of course, were made from sandal scraps. They ended up a little bit long but he’ll have room to grow. He’s can’t talk yet but he often brings them to me and lifts his feet so that I can put them on! Eventually I’ll make a version 2.o. Everyone asks us if he has Unshoes yet… it’s still too cold for sandals but when it warms up he’ll probably end up with a couple pairs.

Minimal shoes for toddlers

This one has some motion blur because light was getting low but I'm kinda proud of my cute little man sporting his new kicks! Nevermind the snot running down his lip!

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About unshoes

Creator and designer of Unshoes minimal footwear.
This entry was posted in barefoot, design, family, fashion, minimalism, outdoors, walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Minimal Shoes for Toddlers

  1. Jenny says:

    I have been searching for soft-soled flat shoes in toddler/preschooler size for my 2 1/2 year old daughter. Minimal shoes for kids are very difficult to find and very expensive for children who change sizes so quickly. I was so happy to find (reasonably priced!) children’s size unshoes on your website! I’ll be tracing my daughters feet this week to put in an order. I think there is a definite emerging market for children’s minimalist shoes. I just wanted to say thanks and tell you to keep making and selling kids shoes! Those winter shoes look great, I hope you’ll be selling those someday too.

  2. aaron says:

    Those look pretty sweet. Maybe you could post instructions….unless you plan to sell them too lol.

    • unshoes says:

      I thought about photographing the process as a step-by-step series but to be honest I was just making it all up as I went. I guessed on the sizing and the pattern. I would like to share but I don’t think my instructions would have been very helpful!!! I am thinking of doing it again and recording it so that people can at least see what I did. There are quite a few patterns out there for baby shoes. If you were to find one and use more durable materials I’m sure it would render similar results.

      Eventually I’d like to design something like that for adults. Obviously I’d want them to have a better defined shape!

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