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Soft Star's RunAmoc Dash Youth Shoe

When I was little I was almost never allowed to go barefoot. It was because my mom was concerned of the dangers of being without shoes. Sure, I was happily frolicking through the grass with not a care in the world, but all of that could have ended with a broken piece of plastic, a lazy bee on the ground, not to mention a ton of germs.

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Who knows. Maybe this is why I love shoes so much (100 pairs and counting). Regardless, I never went without a pair. Mom's orders.

According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the 26 bones in our feet aren't fully hardened until ages 12 to 18. While your kid's feet are developing, the soft cartilage is fusing together. Until then, their feet are at risk from ill-fitting footwear that can lead to bad posture and strange stride as an adult. No pressure, right?

For years there's been a movement for minimal (dare I say "barefoot") footwear if you want to encourage healthy development of bones, muscles and balance. Pioneers of this thought process since 1984, Soft Star believes the less shoe, the more benefit. They're all about healthy foot development, so they design their shoes for natural movement with flexible, wide soft soles and breathable natural materials. Some smart people have caught on through the years, from President Ford to Violet and Seraphina, daughters of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner.

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Perfect for the spring time, Soft Star's RunAmoc Dash shoes are great for when your kid has two speeds – dash and fast. Recently becoming available in youth sizes, it has a front Velcro closure for easy on/off (as opposed to the tie-on adult versions) and elastic band heels so they fit snugly and don't slip off as they’re …well …running amok.

No more clunky clodhoppers for your kid as they hike, bike, run and jump outside in the sunshine. The comfortable form is lightweight (between 4oz to 6oz depending on the size and sole) and allows feet to move and stretch as though they were barefoot. But don't worry, mom. You still get the protection from the elements. Worn with or without socks, you can choose the outer sole based on where your little one is going – the 5mm trail sole or 2mm street sole. And the bottom of the shoe has some serious sticking power, with tiny circular tracks that grab the dirt, sidewalk or whatever they're running on.

Choose from the Chocolate/Nutmeg and Dark Purple/Shiny Violet colors or Design Your Own. For warmer days, try the LITE version of the Dash with a thin perforated leather to keep feet cool and ventilated. This one is available in black suede with stars (shown above) and a cute blue and turquoise combo.

With Soft Stars, I'm protecting my daughter's precious tootsies while still giving her the freedom to enjoy running around "barefoot" in the grass. But even with this minimal footwear concept, she's still my daughter...the girl will love her shoes.

Youth RunAmoc Dash prices start at $78.

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