Rileyroos: Soft-soled shoes with serious spunk

04/23/2008 at 07:00 AM ET

Sportie When our first son was born and started walking, I confess, I didn’t understand the importance of soft-soled baby shoes.  I crammed his feet into some ridiculously stiff sneakers and set him off on his awkward, peg-legged way.  Now I know better.  Pediatricians universally agree that besides going barefoot soft-soled shoes are best for a baby’s developing feet, not only because they allow baby to feel the ground beneath him, but also because they allow for proper growth while strengthening the muscles of the feet and ankles. 

Based on that recommendation, it was only a matter of time before the market for soft-soled baby shoes exploded — and explode it did.  In the four short years since Owen was born, our options for purchasing soft-soled baby shoes appear to have grown exponentially.  That said, we’ve used a variety of different soft-soled shoes with our second son — and we think we have a real winner on our hands (and his feet!) in Rileyroos.  We recently were happy testers of this up-and-coming brand, and if you’re been searching for soft-soled baby shoes that combine function and style, I’m confident in telling you that your search ends right here and now.

We were very impressed with Rileyroos’ Sportie in butterscotch ($28). Velcro closure makes the shoes easy on/off, even with socks, which I love.  The leather upper is soft and supple, in an eye-catching buttery-yellow shade with a yellow and gray grosgrain ribbon stitch on each side and white topstitching all around. The Sportie is really nice to look at, ideal for spring and summer, and we get asked about these shoes everywhere we go.  Really and truly!

For me, however, the real selling point of the Sportie isn’t even visible to onlookers.  Flip the sneaker over, and you’ll see that Rileyroos has sewn flexible rubber pads right into the soles.  So many soft-soled baby shoes are bare leather underneath, which I’ve found to be slippery for Sam when he walks on hardwood floors.  With the Sportie, however, he still has all the benefits that a soft-soled shoe has to offer, but with the bonus of some added traction.  I was more at ease with letting him play outside in these shoes, as well, because the rubber pads made me not worry as much about him wearing out the bottoms of his Sporties.

MaryjaneCBB Reviews Editor, Bronwyn tested the Mary Jane in cherry (28; shown at right).  It includes all the great features of the Sportie, only in a super cute mary jane style with soft red leather and white offset topstitching.  The pads on Mary Jane’s leather sole are pink, which pops nicely against the red.  The soles of both shoes curl upwards, which is particularly beneficial for babies who are making the transition from crawlers to walkers. 

Rileyroos styles are available in sizes 6-12 months, 12-18 months and 18-24 months; While the shoes do run a bit large, we also found them to run a bit narrow.  If your baby has exceedingly wide feet, fit could be an issue.  That said, Sam — who does not have wide feet — has been living in his Rileyroos for the better part of a month, and the shoes have held up beautifully.  Best of all, I know that inside that pretty little package his feet are growing and bending and becoming stronger — just as if he’d been barefoot all along.

To purchase the Sportie or Mary Jane, or any of Rileyroos numerous other styles, click here.


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