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Shopping for Toddler Summer Shoes

We've got the lay down on finding the perfect pair of toddler shoes for this summer!
Shopping for Toddler Summer Shoes
Updated: August 5, 2022

Summer is here, and that means cute new shoes — not just for you, but for your toddler, too. But before you order that cute pair of kicks from Amazon or Zappos, there are a few things you should know.

What to Look for in a Toddler Shoe 

A child’s feet are constantly growing. Babies’ feet have 22 partially developed bones. By the time a child is five, that number will have increased to 45, with 36 separate joints.

In addition, a toddler’s general physical health is constantly developing - their muscles and ligaments are strengthening, they are learning how to balance, and are constantly gaining better coordination. 

Podiatrists generally agree that for children under two, barefoot is best when your little one is playing indoors. But when they’re headed outside, barefoot isn’t an option! 

When selecting a pair of toddler shoes for your little one’s next outdoor adventure, look for a pair that are: 

1. Breathable 

Shoes that trap in heat and moisture are the very opposite of comfy, especially in warm weather. Shoes made from synthetic materials can make little feet hot, and even cause blisters. So look for breathable fabrics and designs that promote air circulation.

2. Machine Washable 

If your toddler’s wearing it, it’s going to get dirty. So choose shoes that can go into the washing machine if needed.

3. Quick Drying 

Beach, pool, or mud puddle, wet shoes are no fun. Quick drying materials and designs will keep little feet comfy on the go.

4. Cushioning 


Cushioning in the footbed puts a bouncy layer between your child’s feet and hot pavement, which makes for greater comfort. And we’re all more likely to keep our shoes on if they’re comfortable.

You can also buy a toddler sized insole if your favorite shoe doesn’t come with cushioning.

5. Equipped With The Right Sole 

Walking shoes such as the old ‘Stride Rite’ baby shoes have a firm outsole. But for summertime fun, flexible soles may be more comfortable.

Look for a non-slip or slip resistant rubber outsole with good traction, to keep your child from slipping on pool decks and other slippery surfaces.

You may be thinking, ‘what about arch support?’ Well, experts say that you don’t need to worry about that quite yet. At this age, a flexible sole will let your child’s feet, including their arches, develop naturally.

6. Easy to Take On and Off 

Shoes that can slip on and off mean greater independence for your child. Velcro straps or a hook-and-loop closure mean that your kids can take their shoes on and off by themselves.

At the same time, if your toddler is taking their shoes off every time you turn around, you might prefer a design that requires a parent’s help to remove, such as shoes that buckle or tie.

And if your child’s feet are growing rapidly, an adjustable strap means that you’ll be able to alter the shoe to fit over the course of the summer.

7. Made With Solid Yet Breathable "Uppers"  

A shoe’s uppers are the part that surrounds the foot. Shoes where the upper totally encloses the foot such as athletic shoes or walking shoes protect little feet from bumps and scratches. Toddler sandals, on the other hand, allow for the flow of air, water, and sand.

For the best of both worlds, consider a sandal with a solid toe, like the Keen Newport H2.

Types of Toddler Shoes 

So, what are some of the best summer shoes for your toddler?

1. Water Shoes 

Water Shoes 

Water shoes are enclosed slip-on shoes that are made to go in and out of the water. Most are made from waterproof EVA, or from quick drying water-friendly breathable mesh, and come in a range of different colors.

The Merrell Hydro is an example of an enclosed mesh water shoe. The Jefferson by Native Shoes is a slip-on sneaker made from EVA with plenty of holes for circulation of water or air.  

2. Clogs 

Soft clogs, like Crocs kids, are a great option for water, sand, and pavement. No laces mean they’re easy to take on and off, and though they can’t go in the washing machine, they rinse clean with ease.

3. Toddler Sandals 

Toddler Sandals 

Toddler sandals come in a variety of designs, from closed-toe sandals like the Keen Venice H2, to open-toe sandals like the unisex Merrell Panther. We wouldn’t recommend flip flops until your child is much older, as you don’t want to risk them slipping. 

Shoes for Wide Feet 

Most toddlers have wide feet. Still, if your toddler’s feet are wider than average, keep this in mind, and choose less restrictive designs.

Toddler Boy, Toddler Girl, Unisex 

Kids shoes don’t split into gendered sizes until much later. For toddlers, all shoe sizes are unisex, so why not let your toddler’s summer shoes reflect their personality?

Shoe Size 

Shoe Size 

It might be tempting to play it by ear and pick the shoe that seems to fit. But a professional can tell you if you’re choosing the right width, the right length, and the right design for your child’s needs. However, if you’re worried about temper tantrums in the shoe store, we’ve equipped you with all the information you need to find that perfect fit yourself!

Best Foot Forward 

Summertime means fun time, and it starts with a great pair of shoes! What are your favorite toddler shoes for summer? Tell us about it @familyeducation on Instagram and Twitter! 

Jess Faraday

About Jess

Jess is a qualified teacher who is experienced in teaching different languages and linguistics… Read more

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