Re: How long to wear soft soled shoes?
My kids wear soft-soled shoes exclusively until running outdoors on sidewalks for extensive periods of time (usually around 2), then they get 1 pair of VERY flexible thin-soled shoes.
Soft-soled shoes remain the main footwear until at least age 3.
My DD is 4.5 and I still test every shoe for extreme flexibility. If the sole is not light, thin, and VERY flexible, I don't buy it. Yes, I pay more for her shoes, but it's worth it.
I'm going to check out the soft star shoes that are linked above.
S, mama to my Second Grader, K (9/07) and my Kindergartener, e (7/09) and married to my best friend, E (2007)