Stride Rite: Fashion and Science

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Perhaps you're like me. Normally you put fashion ahead of comfort. It's a revelation when a brand can achieve both--especially when it comes to children's shoes. After a morning of foot facts at the Morgan library, I'm armed with information.

Last month Stride Rite invited me to sit on a presentation on a new study they funded. This brand wants to dig deep and find out what is best for your child's foot. They commissioned an independent lab headed by Paul Scherer D.P.M. a clinical professor of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Western University to take the early steps towards discerning what footwear is best for the stages of your child's life.

Stride Rite spent money wisely. Instead of a splashy advertising effort, they chose to invest in foot research. Though the study is just beginning, there were some interesting findings and some myths that were busted. The study's main focus was to understand the foot development in a child and to match the right flexibility to the different stages.

A fancy lab was set up to test the varying levels of flexibility in shoes. Scientists wired the shoes of toddlers and set them loose in a lab. The study was able to measure where and how a child applied pressure to a shoe and what made a child stumble. It turns out stiff shoes are not best for baby.

The company used the findings to deliver the newest lines of Stride Rites--with different flexibility for different ages. Top finding: Kids stumble and fall the LEAST in the most flexible shoes. It's important for proprioception (feeling the ground).

All this science is nice, but what about real world playground trials. Ever the skeptic, I asked if the shoes were only tested in lab conditions. I was assured that the shoes get 30-45 days of real world testing before they are added to a line. Not only do these shoes fit well, they are designed to be durable--I guess that makes sense since this brand has been around since 1919. To find out more about foot health visit www.striderite.com

Here's a breakdown of the stages.

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Stage 1: Look for a soft-soled shoe for your pre-walker. Next to barefoot, a flexible, soft shoe is ideal. Did you know? Most doctors recommend you let your baby explore with bare feet. Shoes are there to protect from sharp edges and to keep baby warm.

Tip: When buying shoes for a child 24 months and younger look for a flexible toe break.

Stage 2: Cruisers and early walkers. Did you know? Kids feet sweat 2x as much as adult's feet! We like that Stride Rite shoes are breathable, keeping you child's foot dry and comfortable.

Tip: Look for rounded edges and super flexible shoes. And you should measure your child's foot every 2-3 months.

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Stage 3: These shoes are engineered for active kids. Each shoe is designed to "optimize the biomechanics" of the foot. We love the check fit system built into the shoe. Did you know? Up until age 5 the foot is still forming and is mostly cartilage?

Tip: Slip out the lining and measure the shoe up to your child's foot.

Momtrends was not paid for this post.

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