Our baby is a year old now and walking quite well. She spent the summer barefoot or with cheap plastic sandals on. Clare and I have both had nagging thoughts that now was the time to get her measured up and fitted up for her first pair of proper shoes. We had one bad experience and then a good one.
I figured it would be easy, and it should have been. From what I remembered as a kid, you put your foot into a machine which measures you up. Then you pick the shoes, try them on, the salesperson tells you to wiggle your toes as they feel the end of the shoe and you are done. Meanwhile your Mum pays for them as the salesperson tries to sell all kind of extras to protect the shoes.
As a kid we always went to Clarks so that's where we headed. My first surprise was the sheer amount of customers up there. You had to take a ticket with a number on and wait for your turn. After 15 minutes it was our turn, we had to fill out a form while Amélie was measured up by hand with a little machine which measures length and width. She was a 3.5 E/F, the kid who served us ran off to get some shoes in her size.
He came back with some shoes, a special pack and a camera. The idea was that you get a little my first shoes pack with a photo. There was very little choice, 2 trainers and 1 leather shoe were all they had in her size. As she tried them on the length seemed fine but to me her instep was too high for the shoes. Her feet looked like pigs trotters stuffed into shoes that were too small.
The guy assured us they were a good fit, and we thought this was the only shop in our town where you could get shoes for a 12 month old. The form had been filled out, we had waited 15 minutes to be served, the camera was there, as was the pack, the pressure to buy something was huge. I stared at Amélie's foot crammed into the shoe that the salesperson assured us was a good fit, it just didn't add up so we left.
The guy looked bemused as we walked out, and once out of the shop Clare and I found out we had exactly the same reservations. I hadn't noticed but Clare had seen the size on the box hadn't matched the size he had measured her to. Also neither of us had been able to see any prices on the display shelves or on the shoes Amélie had tried on. We returned home with no shoes, and scoured the internet for shoes. We found out there was another shoe shop in town called Russell And Bromley that stocked shoes for babies and toddlers.
The next day we went to Russell And Bromley, upstairs was a large room dedicated to kids shoes. It was busy and also had a ticketing system but we were seen to after just 5 minutes. The salesperson had the same hand operated measuring tool as Clarks but the measurement came out different. They had more of a range here, all the Clarks shoes and more brands such as Start Rite.
We asked about trainers and normal shoes, and she said trainers would probably not give the correct support for every day use. We wanted shoes she could wear all the time and the previous shop hadn't told us this information. With summer over I picked out a pair that looked like good quality walking boots, the salesperson told us they were far too stiff for first shoes. Eventually we picked out 4 pairs of regular leather shoes. As she tried the first pair on I noticed that it looked a mile away from the scene the previous day. They actually looked like they fit, there was no comparison.
The salesperson thought the shoes may be a little too big so asked a colleague for a second opinion. Her colleague agreed and she came back with different sizes. One pair fastened with a strap and buckle over the top of the foot, this is similar to her plastic sandals she has been wearing. She manages to pull them off every few minutes so I expressed concern at buying shoes in that style. The salesperson said if they can slip off then they are not the correct size. So we tried to pull her heel out and it came out. With the same shoes in a smaller size the heel stayed in, even with a firm tug just as she had said.
In no time Amélie was walking around in well fitting shoes that she couldn't take off. I had no idea at the rate kids feet grow so enquired as to when to expect her to outgrow the shoes. The salesperson said there are no hard and fast rules, we were to bring Amélie into the shop every 6 weeks and they would check for us. I wish we had walked into this shop the day before!
I'm a very laid back person, and oddly for me my mind had been nagging at me to get Amélie some shoes for a couple of weeks. In fact it has been the main thing on my mind for the past week or so. As we left the shop with Amélie wearing her new shoes I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. It sounds so strange, I think perhaps there is a primeval instinct at work in the back ground. I couldn't rest until my child had been properly clad for the winter. Clare felt the same sense of relief.
It's not the first time a deep fatherly instinct has come to the surface. All my life I've been a deep sleeper. I've slept through a fire alarm and evacuation, and people have played tricks on me as they know I'm such a deep sleeper and won't wake while they play a prank. I've never had trouble sleeping, and when I do wake up it takes a long time for me to come around. You don't want me driving a car until I've had a coffee and half and hour to wake up.
Our baby has slept through the night from almost day 1 but I've not been able to take advantage of that. Ever since the birth of our first child I've had trouble getting to sleep and trouble staying asleep. Also when I wake nowadays I'm immediately alert. I wake at the slightest sound and then lay awake for hours listening out for any danger. I can only put it down to some kind of protective instinct that I have no control over.
But I digress, if anyone has any info or tips concerning kids shoes then please leave a comment below.