Why my child asked me to return his Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners in Dark Kea Green, and why I actually like Smallbirds

Dark Kea Green wool runner with black outer sole

Dark Kea Green wool runner with black outer sole

Hi friends. I recently purchased a pair of Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners in Dark Kea Green for Phil. (I’m assuming kea refers to a green parrot native to New Zealand.) The Dark Kea Green is a limited edition color, and this shoe costs $55 USD.

At first glance, Phil did not like the shoe. Maybe the color is too dark, and frankly, that’s unappealing to most kids. Kids love brighter colors, and all three Smallbirds are dark. The Dark Kea Green is a dark forest green shoe atop a solid black outer sole. Allbirds, you can’t market the same type of shoes to Silicon Valley adults, and expect little kids to love them as well. Little kids don’t care about minimalism and a lack of branding. Take Phil for instance. He loves his brightly-colored Nikes, and aqua Crocs. We’re talking about little kids here, not your stylish and trendy tweens, teens, and pre-tweens. Smallbirds run in sizes 5T to 10T. Those are toddler sizes.

Here’s a Nike sneaker, size 10C, you can purchase for $55. It’s flashier, and a bit more appealing to kids

Here’s a Nike sneaker, size 10C, you can purchase for $55. It’s flashier, and a bit more appealing to kids


Wool runners tend to run bigger and longer, and yet Allbirds will tell you to size up. Phil usually wears 11 to 11.5C (or T) for toddlers. His foot fit into the Allbirds Smallbirds 10T, but you can see his toes bulging, and he said it felt too small for him. (He disliked the shoe before even trying them on.) I strongly encourage you to bring your children to try the shoes on first before buying them. Allbirds does have an amazing return/exchange policy. Your child can try the shoe for 30 days, step on dog poo, jump in puddles, run miles, and Allbirds won’t ask any questions. I think they just run the returned shoes in the wash and donate them.

Laces on Smallbirds

The good news here is that you can remove the laces, and the Smallbirds Wool Runner becomes a slip-on shoe for little kids. Mama here loves how the Smallbirds came with a second pair of free laces, and they’re sparkly! Phil is a five-year-old boy who loves slip on shoes, and not wearing socks (like his mama), so I bet you the shoelaces were also unappealing to him.

There’s an elastic band under the tongue of the shoe, making the shoe easy for little kids to slip on, and it also won’t easily slip off with each step. Unfortunately, I think this elastic band makes the shoes tighter on top, and actually tough for little chubby feet to slip into.

Wear and Care

Like the adult Allbirds, you can machine-wash the Allbirds Smallbirds. First, remove the insoles and laces. Then place the wool runners in a delicates bag and wash on cold or wool cycle. Remember to air dry only!

By the heel, there are little bumps to prevent heel slippage. Love them!




I love the minimalist packaging, as always. The Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners come in a two-compartment (100% recyclable) box, with care instructions printed in soy ink. You can reuse the box to return your shoes for an exchange or return.

Smallbirds in a big world

Smallbirds in a big world

Shoe build quality


The Allbirds Smallbirds are knitted in Italy and assembled in Korea. Where the top of the runners meet the outer sole, you see some glue. When I took out the inner sole, the shoe reminds me of a moccasin. The outer soles look exactly like the ones on adult Allbirds.

I’m not sure if the green foam of the inner sole is made from castor bean oil.


My biggest qualm with wool runners is that they attract all types of fur, lint, hair and dust, and rather quickly too. Also, the wool runners looked frumpy on me. They also looked frumpy on Phil.


What Mama loves about the Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners

  • They’re light, soft, and flexible.

  • They’re machine-washable.

  • They’re priced like other runners for toddlers.

  • They come with cute sparkly shoelaces.

  • Toddlers can wear them without the shoelaces.

  • They’re stretchable and can technically grow with the child’s foot, up to a point.

  • The heel area has heel bumps to prevent heel slippage.

  • Excellent try for 30 days and return or exchange policy, no questions asked.

What Phil and Mama don’t love about the Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners

  • Phil doesn’t like the set of colors Allbirds is promoting at the moment (March 2019.) It’s springtime, Allbirds. Where are your pastel and bright spring colors?

  • They’re not machine-dryable.

  • They’re baby clones of Allbirds Wool Runners for Adults, so aside from the Elastic Band beneath the tongue, what else is different about this design for little kids?

  • They might not be meant for very wide and chubby toddler feet. Due to the elastic band, the area under the tongue, while stretchable, feels narrow.

  • Merino wool—not waterproof, and very active little kids will probably easily tear and break their Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners.

Return Yay or Nay?

Well, Phil won’t wear them. They’re not appealing to him, so I’ll have to return them, or gift them. They are also too small for his feet at this time. Length-wise, they fit, but width-wise, they don’t.

For little kids who don’t like to wear socks, these are solid runners. Their little feet won’t be stinky, and these wool runners do look and feel comfortable. But again, Allbirds, if you’re marketing to little kids, think even sparklier. Sparkly shoelaces alone won’t do. Bring back all the snazzy bright colors for little kids!

Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners are the baby clones of Allbirds Wool Runners. This Mama thinks these are solid Wool Runners for little kids, and they may be the only merino wool runners in the market for little kids. Do little kids care if their feet don’t smell after a day of playing? Or that they can wash their shoes in the washing machine?

Kids want to run, jump into puddles and mud, and play all day. I’m afraid that active little kids can quickly tear and break these wool shoes. Also, they’re not water resistant or waterproof.

Are these the best runners for little kids? I’m not sure. But what the heck, give them a try and let me know your thoughts!

Final thoughts:

A sustainable merino wool runner for little kids who fit sizes 5T to 10T. Colors are muted and dark, and shoes may be too minimalist for little kids who love brighter, flashier colors. Shoes may run long, and maybe wear and tear easily over time, especially if the wearer is active. (And little kids are active!)

Phil and Mama gives the Allbirds Smallbirds 3.4 out of 5 Pandas

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