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Every Kid Deserves a Good Pair of Boots

We are blessed with lots of rain here in the Pacific Northwest. After living in the desert of Arizona for 3 years, I LOVE the rain. I appreciate how much life it brings to this valley. And we’ve almost survived our first rainy season here. Locals tell us that we should be prepared to get wet up until the 4th of July, but we’ve seen a definite turn towards spring in the weather these last few weeks. We’re enjoying warmer temperatures and more sunshine, plus we’re getting to reap the benefits in blooming trees and fresh produce.

But, I’m not going to lie. The rainy winter is long. In January and February, weeks would go by without sunshine, and that wears on everyone. It’s tempting to cozy up inside with hot tea and watch the water run down the windows all winter. Thing is, I know a certain toddler and a certain dog that need to enjoy the freedom of being outside every day. And it turns out, I have that need, too. I just get internally grumpy when I don’t get my outside time. Kids and dogs get very externally grumpy.

Another thing we’re blessed with in our neighborhood: a meadow. It takes up about half of a block, and it is just open space cared for by folks in the neighborhood. It is edged by flowering trees and some native plants chosen to attract pollinators. (Yesterday, BabyC met her first bee in the meadow, and I think all the buzzing that we do when we read books about bees finally made sense to her.) The grass is wild and overgrown, and there are plenty of interesting sticks to play with. There are even a few stumps that BabyC loves to climb. And when it rains, there is water. But that’s it. No playground equipment and no sandbox. Yet, BabyC is happy to wander around the meadow for an hour at a time.

I’ve written before about how toddlers don’t need toys, and we’ve spent very little money on toys for BabyC so far. We did, however, invest in a good pair of boots for her. I scoured local consignment shops for a couple of months before I would consider spending this much on a pair of boots she’ll outgrow in a season. But you know what? Totally worth the investment. These boots have encouraged hours of free play in our wild little meadow.

A good pair of boots is empowering. No reason for this girl to be afraid of a little water. No soggy socks or frozen toes. No mama groaning about another pair of ruined shoes. These boots – along with BabyC’s rain jacket and pants – are impenetrable.

I think this is important. I want my little girl to know mud and dirt and feel comfortable in the natural world. In a couple of years, she may be spellbound by the princess culture. She may refuse to leave the house without pink sparkly shoes, and that’s OK. But I believe that the earliest experiences matter. I believe that by making nature a part of BabyC’s everyday life from the very start, it will become a place of refuge for her. It will be something that she values and appreciates.

A few weeks ago, there was news of a recent study finding that about half of preschoolers do not get a chance to play outside even once per day. This is shocking enough, but I’d be willing to bet that the number is even smaller for toddlers. My evidence? It took me forever to find a pair of boots for BabyC in size 4. Shoe manufacturers seem to think that toddlers don’t play outside until their feet hit a size 5. And I doubt if that was an arbitrary decision handed down by a CEO. It was probably based on market research showing that parents of toddlers just don’t buy rain boots for them.

Sadly, that study on preschoolers and play found that girls were even less likely than boys to have the opportunity to play outside. Princess expert Peggy Orenstein weighed in on that finding, wondering if the gender play gap had anything to do with the shoes marketed to our girls. Girls’ shoes are often sparkly and delicate, better suited for tea parties and dance recitals than running in a meadow or splashing in mud puddles.

I’m sure Orenstein is onto something, and I think we should all be concerned about the lack of play opportunities for young kids, especially girls. But in my town, I also see schools that make outdoor play a priority, and that gives me lots of hope. There is an outdoor play-based preschool in our neighborhood, and their class frequents the meadow. They walk to the meadow as a pack of explorers, all suited up in waterproof coveralls and rain boots. One morning, I watched them crest over the hill as they approached the meadow. A child at the front of the pack raised a fist and yelled, “Water in the meadow! Water in the meadow!” Everyone cheered, and that warmed my heart on a rainy day.

So for now, BabyC is outside splashing around in a pair of sturdy boots, every single day.

Before I know it, she’ll be putting her foot down for pink sparkly ballet flats. My hope is that by then, the joy of mud puddles will be so deeply ingrained that she’ll still jump in, sparkles and all.

Every kid deserves a good pair of boots. Does your child have some?

♥ I linked this post up to Learning for Life‘s Outdoor Play Link-Up! They’re all about the importance and fun of outdoor play for kids. Go check it out for more great outdoor play ideas! ♥

34 Comments
  1. help4yourfamily #

    I agree completely. Also my girls are a little older, 7 and 10, and they keep trying to get me to buy them shoes with heels. The sad thing is you can find shoes with heels in children’s sizes now! Not Sunday school thick heels from when we were kids, mini adult like heels. It’s makes me ill to think about it and the answer is always no but who does that?! Thanks for the post

    Like

    April 25, 2012
  2. Do you have brand recommendations? We live in Germany now, and rain gear is ubiquitous here for kids of all ages, but I have never found raIn pants/coveralls in the States, and we’re moving back there shortly.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Helly Hanson, North Face, amd MEC have lines for toddlers…pricy but will last through several kids. But in Canada anyway even Walmart sells rain pants.

      Like

      April 25, 2012
    • The local farm/fleet wherever you are (if there is one) will also carry them.

      Like

      April 25, 2012
    • Bethany, we got the boots from Keen via Amazon (links below). They are really expensive by my standards, but again, I think it is a worthy investment. They’re very solid and lightly lined for a little extra warmth. I also love her raincoat and pants from L.L. Bean. L.L. Bean sells boots starting in U.S. size 5, and that’s probably what we’ll buy next. I didn’t find many other options for boots smaller than size 5 or good solid rain gear for toddlers in the 12-18 month range. BabyC is small, and she is just starting to grow into her 12-18 month rain clothes at 17 months! We’ve gotten LOTS of good use out of them, and I bought them in gender neutral colors so that we can use them again for another kid. Actually, strangers usually call her a little boy when we are out in rain gear. That seems to happen if she wears anything but pink:)

      http://www.amazon.com/KEEN-Coronado-Toddler-Little-English/dp/B0041RW6OQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335393321&sr=8-1
      http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/3160/0/Relevance/1?nav=ln-289

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  3. Great post! I try to take my daughter outside daily regardless of the weather. She’s not yet walking so it’s often just a ride in the stroller but, in dry weather, a crawl in the grass is part of the fun too. Can’t wait to get her some good boots next fall!
    When I was teaching preschool I would tell my students, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing” – we live in Chicago so there are opportunities to test gear in all kinds of weather!

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • When BabyC was a fussy infant, just stepping outside seemed to calm her. I think most babies naturally enjoy the outdoors, but getting outside every day ensures they maintain that comfort level with it! It occurred to me that part of my motivation for getting BabyC out is that I really hope that she is eventually gung-ho to do things like long hikes, camping, and rock-climbing – all activities that Husband and I bonded over early in our relationship. We’d like to get back to doing more of that when she’s a bit older. (We’ve done lots of hiking but found camping last summer a bit challenging. We’ll give it a shot again this summer.)
      https://scienceofmom.com/2011/09/18/camping-with-baby-a-photo-essay/

      Anyway, glad you’re willing to brave the Chicago weather to get your daughter out!

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  4. Cute photos.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
  5. I have 2 boys (3 & 18 months) and both love their rain boots. I wouldn’t survive without them. They love begin outside and the 3 year old can even put them on himself! SCORE! Nice post but discouraged when I found out the statistic of preschoolers who do not play outside:(.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Last week, BabyC pulled on her boots herself, except one was backwards. Not like on the wrong feet, but pointed backwards! She was walking around looking so proud – I don’t think she noticed how uncomfortable it was!

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  6. When my kiddo was a toddler, I scored a pair of size 4 boots, but they were super-cute houndstooth and cloth–not waterproof! Definitely the equivalent of sequins in terms of practicality. We’re in Oregon, so we went outside anyway, but even now, at 4, she doesn’t like getting her feet wet. When our kids were toddlers, the moms’ group coordinator set tons of outdoor playdates, rain or shine. It was great motivation to get out and hit the park or the trails with friends, despite the weather. Those are some of my favorite memories!

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • It definitely helps to have friends that are willing to meet up with you in the rain! That also gives you the major benefit of good conversation while the toddlers proceed with their exploring:)

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  7. kamellia73 #

    And bare feet! We, too, live in the PNW and really enjoyed having such a warm, sunny weekend. My little guy isn’t quite walking yet, but he loved feeling the grass under his feet this past weekend.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Yes! We actually didn’t take shoes off last weekend, and we should have. Thanks for the reminder! The meadow grass is a little tough for no shoes, but the grass at the park is SO nice right now.

      Like

      April 25, 2012
      • kamellia73 #

        Ah, spring!

        Like

        April 25, 2012
  8. Angela #

    Alice, I totally agree, I think it’s so important to appreciate being outdoors.. and I love girls who are willing to get wet and muddy in the name of fun, esp to turn around and be girly and love the sparkles sometimes. 🙂

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Me too:) My fingers are crossed that BabyC stays willing to play in the mud.

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  9. I love this post & completely agree! 🙂 Your little one is so cute & looks completely at home in her little meadow.

    Btw…I just got “How Eskimos” from the library & I am LOVING it so far! Very interesting & a good blend of science & stories…Thanks for the recommendation!

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Good, glad you’re enjoying it! You just reminded me that I have to draw the winner now!

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  10. I love this post! My own gal loves wearing her rain boots, and we spend a lot of time outside and at parks. But I’ve struggled with shoe shopping for her since she started walking, finding that the best play shoes are usually found in the boy section (which is where I’ve bought them). Now that she is getting into sparkly, shiny, we had quite the shopping experience the other day when I was trying to get her to try on size 7 hiking shoes and she wanted strappy, mini, sex in the city style sandals. I kept thinking, for what purpose are these made for two year olds? There is nowhere she goes that those would be comfortable or appropriate. We left after an hour of trying on with one pair of sturdy play sandals from the “boy” section. She already has purple sparkly sandals at home. Now if I could just get her to make the connection between running in the parks and hiking on trails and sturdy shoes… or if they only made them with the sparkles she loves.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Exactly. And on top of so few practical choices for girls, it probably becomes hard to shoe shop with them and focus on the few practical choices while being surrounded by sparkles and heels. Craziness. I think you’re onto something. We need to see some good sturdy hiking boots – in pink, with sparkles.

      Like

      April 25, 2012
  11. I’ve just been thinking the same thing. We live in England, and, after a really dry winter, we have had rain every day for the past week or two. I’ve taken my son (same age as your BabyC) out to the park a few times, and haven’t seen anyone else around, save a dog-walker or two. He loves it, though–especially the fact that the combination of raincoat and wet slide means he goes down super fast! I just need to get some better wet-weather gear for myself!

    Like

    April 25, 2012
    • Yes, good gear for yourself is a must! You need to stay comfortable, too, otherwise you’ll be ready to head in while the kid is still having a blast:)

      Like

      April 29, 2012
  12. Love this post! My little one is too small for puddles, but I’ll buy a pair of rain boots the minute he’s old enough to stomp in them.

    Like

    April 25, 2012
  13. I don’t know if you have the cartoon Peppa Pig over there, but your post reminded me of it. Pretty much every episode (which only lasts about 5 minutes by the way), they get their mud boots on and jump up and down in muddy puddles. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest too, and loved playing outside. I hate that we live in an apartment now (in Australia, I don’t hate that part) and my toddler can’t play outside every single day. Or even most days for that matter.

    Like

    April 26, 2012
  14. Reblogged this on MOMMYCASE Blog and commented:
    I like this adventure very much.I have too some memory like this when i was a child.Played in the rain with my red boots.In my case. ..my dad..did it

    Like

    April 26, 2012
  15. Nicole #

    I was able to find a pair of size 4/5 rainboots from Target.com. They are the Capelli brand. It really is tough to find smaller size rain boots.

    I have to make a conscious effort to get out more with my almost 2 year old. I have horrid allergies, so I’m used to having to stay indoors. But I don’t want to deprive her of the outdoor experience, so I’ve been working on getting her out more.

    Like

    April 28, 2012
  16. My daughter attends preschool October-mid May in Michigan. Granted, much of that time the weather is pretty terrible (super cold, rainy, snow, icy, etc) and there is a constant problem of children not being sent to school wearing weather-appropriate outerwear, and yeah, two hours a day/three days a week isn’t much time, but there have been many days that I picked my daughter up from school and wondered why on Earth they didn’t play outside that day. I think they used the playground literally about three times this year. Many of the kids are apartment dwellers, and would probably relish the opportunity to play outside for even 15 minutes. Sigh.

    Like

    April 29, 2012
    • Sigh is right. I wish it was more of a priority. You do make a good point that truly cold weather can certainly get in the way of outside play. Despite the rain here in the Pacific Northwest, we do enjoy relatively mild winters. The temperature is pretty comfortable year-round, with the right gear. Michigan is definitely more challenging in that regard!

      Like

      April 29, 2012
  17. Great post, thanks for linking it up to the Outdoor Play Party!

    Like

    April 30, 2012
  18. jf #

    I have a precious pair of rainboot socks that we bought and the kids LOVE them They are Lans rainboot socks. They even use them as socks around the house

    Like

    January 9, 2016
  19. The farm supply stores seem to have rain boots all year round in kid sizes. Not pretty, but useful. I sucked it up and bought my daughter a pair of Polarn O. Pyret rain overalls one year. They lasted three years before finally being too small. Best buy I ever made. They go over the rain boots and have a strap that goes under the boot to keep them from riding up. And have adjustable overall straps over the shoulders. My daughter could sit in the mud and her pants would be dry. In the summer she’d wear them with short and a tee underneath and in the winter if it wasn’t too cold, she’d even wear them instead of snow pants as they were more waterproof.

    Like

    January 9, 2016

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