Looking for the best shoes for toddlers? Look no further! We've got you covered with our ultimate guide to finding the perfect pair for your little ones. Whether you need wide-fit shoes, budget-friendly options, or statement-making kicks, we've sifted through all the options to bring you the cream of the crop. From dress shoes to water shoes, winter boots to sandals, we've got something for every occasion and style. So let's dive in, and get those tiny feet stepping in style and comfort with the best shoes for toddlers!
Best Shoes for Wide Feet
New Balance Kids 888 V2 Lace-Up Running Shoe
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Why We Love Them: These sneakers from a well-known footwear brand are a popular choice on Amazon. They are available in wide and extra-wide sizes, making them perfect for little ones who need more room to move around.
Saucony Child Baby Jazz Lite
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Why We Love Them: These sneakers are also available in wide and extra-wide sizes, and they have a wide toe box and soft tongue for added comfort. They come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors.
Livie & Luca First Walkers Collection
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Why We Love Them: These shoes have a wide toe box, come with a six-month warranty, and are approved by the APMA. They offer a range of sandals, sneakers, and Mary Janes, combining style with wide-foot friendliness.
Best Diaper Bag (AKA Always Have On Hand) Shoes
Cat & Jack Toddler Parker Sneakers
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Why We Love Them: These casual slip-ons are available at Target and come in a variety of adorable designs. They feature a double hook-and-loop closure, a pull-on tab, and a soft lining for stability, ease of use, and comfort. Plus, they have a budget-friendly price.
Best Budget-Friendly Shoes
Cat & Jack Toddler Rory Slip-On Sneakers
Cost: .49-.99 (No, seriously!)
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Why We Love Them: Similar to the previous pair, these slip-ons are affordable and versatile. They have a pull-on tab, a soft cotton lining, and the option to add your own laces. With prices starting at .49, these shoes are a great choice for parents on a budget.
Best Splurge Shoes
Allbirds Smallbirds Wool Runners – Little Kids
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Why We Love Them: These elastic-laced runners are made with premium ZQ Merino wool, providing stretch and softness. They are stylish, machine washable, breathable, and created by a brand committed to reducing the carbon footprint of footwear.
Best Rain Boots
Lone Cone Rain Boots
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Why We Love Them: These playful boots are available in a wide selection of adorable prints. They have easy-to-grip handles, making them perfect for toddlers learning to put on their own shoes. These boots are a popular choice for families.
Best Vegan Toddler Shoe
Pediped Grip’ N’ Go Troop
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Why We Love Them: These APMA-approved shoes are vegan-made, machine washable, and designed for everyday adventures. They offer heel stability, rounded edges, and a soft toe box for growing feet.
Adidas Child Altaswim Sandal
The Adidas Altaswims offer the same cushiony support you expect in an Adidas sandal—but for the pint-sized set. These sandals have a contoured footbed for your child’s comfort, along with a slingback design to help keep the shoes from slipping. The upper features slight padding to avoid digging into your child’s foot and comes with two adjustable hook and loop straps for that perfect fit. An open toe helps prevent sweaty feet in warmer weather.
How We Chose The Best Toddler Shoes
To choose the best toddler shoes, I spoke to two podiatrists for their input on important features to look for in a good toddler shoe. I also consulted real parents for their take on the toddler shoes they love, along with which they could do without. My own four kids have worn a number of the shoes on this list, and others were recommended by my editor or other parents. I also considered bestsellers and narrowed my list down by sorting through reviews and features like support, comfort, durability, and cost.
Best Dress Shoes
The Children’s Place Toddler Bow Girls Low Heel Shoes
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Why We Love Them: These charming shoes feature a low heel, adjustable strap with buckle closure, and a no-slip rubber outsole. They are a great choice for any dressy occasion.
Carter’s Toddler Boys Boat Shoes
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Why We Love Them: These classic slip-ons from Carter's are machine washable, timeless, and a must-have for any little boy's shoe collection.
Best Statement Shoes
Old Navy Glitter-Jelly T-Strap Flats
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Why We Love Them: These modern-day jellies are a cute and quirky trend. They are easy to clean, affordable, and available in a range of prices.
The Bottom LineWe hope these picks for the best shoes for toddlers have helped you narrow down your choices! Shoe shopping for toddlers doesn't have to be overwhelming. With the right guidance, you can find the perfect pair for your little one to walk, run, and explore in!
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Best Water Shoes
Green Sprouts Water Socks
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Why We Love Them: These lightweight water shoes are quick-drying, chlorine and saltwater-resistant, and made with stretchy material and a flexible, non-slip sole. They are a practical and budget-friendly option for your pool or beach bag.
Nautica Kids Protective Water Shoe
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Why We Love Them: These sport sandals have a protective bump toe guard and a velcro closure. They offer stability, flexibility, and a fun selection of prints to choose from.
Best Overall Toddler Shoe
Ten Little Everyday Original Sneakers
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Why We Love Them: These sneakers are APMA-approved and designed for comfort and stability. They are available in a range of vibrant colors, making them versatile and suitable for everyday wear. Plus, each purchase comes with free specialty stickers for personalization.
Best Beginner Walker Shoes
Alex Nova Skipper Mesh First Walker Sneakers
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Why We Love Them: These stretchable mesh shoes are breathable and have soft soles with a non-slip bottom. They fit like socks and provide comfort for new walkers. They are available in a range of basic colors.
Stride Rite Zips Kennedy Sneaker
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Why We Love Them: These sneakers from Stride Rite have a memory foam footbed, eco-friendly lining, and an odor-reducing treatment. They are APMA-approved and provide comfort, support, and durability.
Ten Little Everyday Sandals
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Why We Love Them: These water-resistant sandals are perfect for summer adventures. They have extra traction, textured insoles, and quick-drying materials, ensuring your toddler's feet are secure and comfortable.
Best Winter Boots
The North Face Toddler Alpenglow II Boots
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Why We Love Them: These snow boots from The North Face provide traction, insulation, and flexibility. They are cozy, classic, and designed for winter adventures. They are a durable and kid-friendly option for colder weather.
Choosing the Best Toddler Shoes
Finding the best toddler shoes for your child involves more than just fit. When it comes to toddler shoes, you need to consider their anatomy and foot health. That's why we highly recommend buying shoes with an American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal. The APMA Seal of Acceptance is only given to shoes that promote good foot health, as determined by foot specialists. This is especially important for your child's developing feet. You can find a list of companies that sell APMA-approved kids' shoes, as well as specific pairs with seals, on the APMA's website. Retailers like Zappos and Nordstrom also allow you to filter their stocks by APMA seal. In addition to foot health, there are also plenty of stylish options available for toddlers.
Below are three brands that offer stylish toddler shoes, many of which have earned the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
- Stride Rite: Stride Rite offers superior craftsmanship and premium materials in their sneakers, dress shoes, and boots. They have consistently won the APMA Seal of Approval.
- See Kai Run: See Kai Run is another top-rated brand with every style in their collection being APMA approved. They even offer adaptive shoes for kids with additional needs.
- Pediped: Pediped shoes have been awarded the APMA Seal of Approval and are known as the next best thing to bare feet. They offer soft sole shoes and rubber grip soles for active toddlers.
Best toddler dress shoes
If you're attending a fancy event with your kids, don't forget to invest in a pair of toddler dress shoes. These leather lace-up shoes are perfect for special occasions, with features like a padded cuff, built-in arch support, and cushioned insoles for comfort.
Size range: 5 to 13 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler bar shoes
These fancy toddler shoes are inspired by the iconic Mary Jane design, making them perfect for pairing with dresses or school uniforms. They have a custom fit, with two interchangeable insoles (regular and wide-fit) for room to grow. The box toe design provides wiggle room for little toes, while the firm heel counter offers stability and support for early walkers.
Size range: 5 to 13.5 | Material: Leather | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler sneakers
These Stride Rite toddler sneakers are a top pick for many reasons. They are easy to fasten, with cushy footbeds and machine-washable materials. Plus, they are APMA approved and available in a variety of cute colors. The lightweight non-marking rubber outsoles make them perfect for active toddlers.
Size range: 5 to 10 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler water shoes
For water activities, these water-friendly kicks from Merrell are a great choice. They have wide nubby outsoles for traction on slippery surfaces, and a reinforced bumper for toe protection. The lightweight upper provides a barefoot feel and quick drying.
Size range: 4 to 10 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber
Best squeaky toddler shoes
These squeaky shoes from ikiki are a fun addition to any toddler's wardrobe. They encourage heel-to-toe walking and have on/off switches to control the noise. The adorable animal-themed styles have earned the APMA seal.
Size range: 2 to 13 | Material: N/A | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler winter boots
UGG boots are a classic choice for winter. These mini toddler boots have a soft wool lining and a grippy platform sole. The water-resistant suede upper keeps little feet dry and warm during outdoor adventures.
Size range: 6 to 12 | Material: Suede and wool | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler sandals
For summer shoes, these darling sandals by See Kai Run are a top pick. They have a flexible rubber outsole and adjustable hook-and-loop straps for a secure fit. The cute print is inspired by the beloved Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Size range: 7 to 13 | Material: Jersey and EVA foam | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler snow boots
In colder climates, a pair of toddler snow boots is essential. These snow boots by The North Face are well-insulated and weather-sealed, keeping little toes warm and dry. The grippy soles reduce the risk of falls, and the crossover strap makes them easy to put on and take off.
Size range: 4 to 9 | Material: Ballistic-mesh, leather, and polyester | Sole type: Thermoplastic
Best slip-on toddler shoes
Brighten up your little one's day with these super-cute slip-on toddler shoes. They feature cushy soles, an adjustable closure, and a happy sun appliqué. Plus, they glow in the dark!
Size range: 4 to 11 | Material: Canvas | Sole type: Rubber
Best toddler clog
Crocs may be a polarizing shoe, but they offer great comfort for toddlers. The foam cushioning provides all-day support, while the closed toe protects tiny feet. The ventilation holes ensure airflow, and they are easy to clean.
Size range: 4 to 10 | Material: Croslite | Sole type: Croslite
Best toddler rain boots
For rainy days and puddle jumping, these Hunter rain boots are a top choice. They are made from waterproof natural rubber, with a treaded sole for slip prevention. The soft cotton lining keeps feet dry, and the grab handles make them easy for little hands to put on and take off.
Size range: 7 to 10 | Material: Rubber and cotton | Sole type: Rubber
Best wide-fit toddler shoes
For kids with wide feet, finding the right shoes can be a challenge. These New Balance shoes offer a generous toe box and instep, providing a comfortable fit. They come in three different widths, ensuring kids with wide feet can enjoy this super-cool style.
Size range: 2 to 9.5 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber
Checklist for the best toddler shoes
When choosing toddler shoes, keep these factors in mind:
- Flexible, non-skid soles: Look for sneakers with nonskid soles that allow your child to grip the floor and prevent falls. Flexibility is also important for natural foot movement.
- A rounded, wide toe box: The ideal shoe should have plenty of space for your child's toes to spread out and balance.
- Velcro or straps: Adjustable straps can help ensure a good fit as your child's foot grows.
- A flexible, supportive heel cup: The heel cup should be firm but have some give when pinched.
- Minimal bulk: Lightweight shoes are best for toddlers building strength and endurance for walking.
A Guide to Toddler Shoe Sizes
Understanding toddler shoe sizing can be confusing. The sizing starts at 0 for younger kids and goes up to 13.5. After that, the scale restarts at 1 for older kids. Toddler shoes typically range from size 4 to size 9, but this can vary depending on the child, brand, and shoe style. When buying shoes online, look for labels that mention "walker" or "toddler" to ensure the right size. If the shoes are labeled "youth" or "big kid," they are in older kids' sizes. Use a ruler or sizing devices to measure your child's foot length, and consult size conversion charts from brands or retailers to find the right size. Leave a finger's width of space between the shoe and your child's longest toe for a proper fit. Remember to measure your child's feet every few months to ensure the right fit.
What Makes A Good Kids' Shoe?
When choosing kids' shoes, support is crucial. A good shoe should not fold in half or be wrung out like a washcloth. Proper fit is also important, with enough space for the toes to spread out and prevent problems like ingrown toenails. Other factors like slip-on designs and lights are kid-specific preferences.
What Shoes Should Be For Kids?
Sneakers are always a good choice for kids due to their active lifestyles. Look for athletic shoes with laces, a stiffer heel counter, and a flexible but firm midsole for everyday wear. Casual shoes like Crocs can be a good option for less active times.
How to get the right shoe fit
Check the fit of your child's shoes about once a month, as their feet grow quickly. Press down on the front of the shoe while your child is standing to ensure proper fit. There should be a finger's width of space between their longest toe and the inside edge of the shoe.
What if my child has special physical needs?
If your child has gross motor challenges or other special physical needs, consult with a physical therapist for guidance on the best shoes for them.
Learn more about the research
For more information on children's shoes, you can refer to the following research articles:
- Staheli, L. T. (1991). "Shoes for children: a review." Pediatrics, 88(2), 371-375.
- Wegener, C., Hunt, A. E., Vanwanseele, B., Burns, J., & Smith, R. M. (2011). "Effect of children's shoes on gait: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 4(1), 1-13.
- Wolf, S., Simon, J., Patikas, D., Schuster, W., Armbrust, P., & Döderlein, L. (2008). "Foot motion in children shoes—a comparison of barefoot walking with shod walking in conventional and flexible shoes." Gait & Posture, 27(1), 51-59.
Are Barefoot Shoes Best For Children?
Minimalist or barefoot shoes may be trendy, but they are not always the best choice for children. These shoes lack support and cushioning, which can lead to injuries. They may be suitable for babies learning to walk, as feeling the ground can aid in balance development. However, it is recommended to choose minimalist shoes with good soles for support.
Stride Rite Soft Motion Kylo Sneaker
Stride Rite's Kylo sneaker is a durable and flexible choice for toddlers. It features an Ortholite memory foam footbed for comfort and a rounded rubber sole for traction. This shoe is designed for new walkers and is APMA approved for foot health.
Cat & Jack Kids' Casey Sneakers
Target's Cat & Jack sneakers are not only affordable but also comfortable and durable. They have a cotton lining and breathable upper, with two hook-and-loop straps for a secure fit. These sneakers come in a variety of adorable patterns and have received high ratings from customers.
See Kai Run Dean Adapt Adaptive High-Top Sneaker For Little Kids
See Kai Run is known for their APMA-approved shoes, and their Dean Adapt sneaker is perfect for kids who need orthopedic inserts. It has a wide opening, long straps, and minimal seams for customization and reduced sensory irritation. Parents also report that their kids can easily put on and take off these shoes.
Crocs Child Bayaband Sandal
Crocs offers toddler-sized sandals that are made with their signature Croslite material. These sandals are perfect for water activities, with their waterproof and easy-to-clean design. They feature adjustable straps for a personalized fit and are completely waterproof.
Ugg Keelan Toddler Ankle Boot
Ugg boots are known for their comfort, and these toddler-sized ankle boots are no exception. They have a cushiony microfiber lining, a soft suede upper, and a sturdy rubber sole. These boots are easy to put on and take off, making them convenient for parents and cozy for little feet.
Merrell Kid's Trail Quest Hiking Sneaker
If you have an active toddler, these Merrell hiking sneakers are a great choice. They have a rugged construction and a sneaker-like feel, with a padded footbed for comfort. These shoes are also machine washable and offer anti-stink lining.
Simple Joys by Carter's Toddler Slip-On Sneaker
Simple Joys by Carter's offers these slip-on toddler sneakers that are comfortable and easy to clean. They have a stiff upper for shape retention and a synthetic sole for traction. These sneakers come in various patterns and are spot-clean only.
Asics Kid's Contend 7 Toddler Shoes
These toddler sneakers from Asics provide the same reliable support as their adult versions. They have a sturdy rubber outsole, a breathable mesh upper, and a padded sockliner for comfort. These sneakers also feature cute design extras like a shark "fin" or panda "tail".
In conclusion, finding the best shoes for toddlers is essential for their comfort and development. Whether you're looking for wide feet, budget-friendly options, or statement shoes, there are plenty of choices available. From rain boots to winter boots, sandals to water shoes, there is a shoe for every occasion. Remember to consider factors such as shoe size, fit, and special physical needs when choosing the right shoe for your child. With the right pair of shoes, your toddler can step confidently into the world, ready for any adventure that comes their way.