Two and half years later, Aiden has had both of his syndactyly releases and we are finally able to say the words that every parent ticks off their checklist on the day their child is born - "Ten fingers, ten toes!" I'm happy with the transformation. I'm at peace with losing his soft stuck together toes. And I know Aiden will be happy we made the choice to change his feet while he was too young to remember the pain.
But with the good also comes the bad. More frustrating than anything else is finding shoes that fit Aiden's special feet. It's an experience that can most easily be compared to a woman's search of that illusive "perfect" pair of jeans. We will spend hours upon hours and much hard-earned money searching for something we know is out of our reach. Just like during my search for jeans, I've left stores in tears when "the perfect pair" doesn't fit the way I wanted it to. And there are even ones tucked away in my closet that I was certain enough about in the store to buy and bring home, but simply didn't make the cut once they'd been worn once or twice.
Through the years, we have had some success with certain brands, styles and types of shoes that I'm going to share with you all here. I know that everyone's feet are different shapes - with or without having toe separations - so these are only suggestions of what has worked well for Aiden. Hopefully, you will have some luck with these (or at least save some money looking for that perfect pair by narrowing down to these)! Good luck!
Robeez (or similar generic brands)
These were our go-to shoes when Aiden was an infant. They were easy to get on and off, cuter than just wearing socks, and helped keep his feet/socks clean when he was cruising and learning to walk.
I didn't discover these until Aiden was almost too big for them, but they were great play shoes for around the house. The traction is awesome for new walkers, and they were more like socks so he wore them around the house or at indoor play-places where "shoes" were not permitted.
Crocs (or similar generic brands)
I know these shoes have had their fair share of negative feedback, but I have to admit, from a wear and tear and convenience standpoint, Crocs have been one of my favorite brands for Aiden now that he is bigger. The shape of the shoe itself, with it's wide and roomy toe base, is almost as if it were made specifically for the Apert foot. They are super light and the little holes allow his feet to "breathe" so they don't get as sweaty - although they still do sweat so oftentimes he will wear socks with his Crocs (is that a fashion faux-paux?) They have withheld sand piles, mud puddles, bike riding and playing at parks and still look good enough to wear with nicer outfits. But the kicker here is - no shoestrings, velcro straps, etc. allows Aiden to get them on and off by himself. (Good for his independence, not so good for his fine motor skill development).
Hands down the cutest, most comfortable shoe for Aiden as a new walker. The width of the toe area and the easily stretchable materials used to make the shoe make this one of my top picks. The styles are adorable - if we were looking for a nicer dress shoe this is where we would start. I'm sure they are durable, however I only let Aiden where them with his nicer clothes (which for a very active little boy was not frequently) so they were never quite put to the test. Biggest down side: they are quite pricey so we only had a pair or two. We tried to buy a size bigger so they lasted longer.
Looking for tennis shoes? Try these first. Flexible material and durability make these very easy to get on and off. Also, the length of the velcro straps is longer than most so they can be adjusted for the increased width of the front portion of the foot where the Apert foot is usually broadest. Some brands with velcro either don't reach at all or barely secure, making it almost impossible to keep them closed throughout the day.
The best thing about this brand is that it comes in XXW - or extra extra wide. This is an obvious bonus for our kiddos feet. Rather than having to go up a size or two to accommodate for the increased spread of the toe area, we could finally find shoes that were true to his size AND feet his foot without shoving his toes into a too-narrow shoe. Only downside is that not all styles come in XXW, and it is mostly tennis shoes, although there are also some dress shoes or casual play shoes as well. And while these are rather pricey for basic everyday shoes, the outlets usually have great sales and other retail/discount stores carry Stride Ride as well. So if you do a little digging, you can find them cheaper.
If you have some other favorite brands or tips on finding good shoes for our kids with Apert Syndrome, please share them by leaving a comment on this post!
Happy shoe-hunting everyone :)
P.S. - The brands mentioned above and the reviews given are my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way or asked by these companies to promote their products. With that said, I plan to send this post to the above-mentioned companies to see if we might be able to score a discount of some kind for craniofacial families :) I'll keep you posted!