Best Shoes for Preschoolers Reviewed & Rated
Buying footwear for your child is never easy. Besides the usual factors you’ve got to worry about – such as the quality of the material, their cost, and their appearance – there are some other criteria you have to consider. Are they easy enough to slip on and off so that your child can put them on by themselves? Will they grow out of them quickly? Is the outsole protective and grippy enough to allow them to run and play safely?
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Durable leather upper
Daisy print lining
Top 10 Picks
1. Capezio Daisy 205
Durable leather upper
Daisy print lining
Lots of little girls go through a phase in their childhood where all they want to be is a princess. You yourself may have gone through that phase. Now, make your daughter feel like one. With the Daisy ballet shoes, they'll be able to run and play while looking adorable at the same time. They've got a single strap, making them super easy to slip on and off, and a cute bow adorns the toe. Their hammered pleats result in a smooth floor contact. The lining is made with a daisy print and offers a snug fit that stretches with time. It's best not to wear these out during autumn or winter because the outsole offers minimal protection, but they are perfect for spring and summer.
Ballet flats are well-loved because of their flexibility. Dancers need it to perform their best. When it comes to regular everyday wear, the flexibility makes them more comfortable and provides a better fit.
With uppers made of leather, you can be sure that these are nice and durable. Besides that, it gives the flats a rich, high-quality look and also helps to maintain their flexibility.
Cost and Value
Compared to the other items we've got on the list, this pair of flats is actually very inexpensive. It's not often that you find such an affordable yet also practical shoe for a low price, especially not one made with leather, so be sure to hurry and make your purchase before they run out!
2. TOMS Classics Tiny
To begin, we've got a classic. TOMS footwear is one of the best kinds of footwear for spring, summer, and autumn when the weather is warm. Their lightweight canvas material and low-profile design allow the foot to breathe, preventing the accumulation of odor and moisture. Meanwhile, the sole is still protected, and the uppers are flexible. The kids' version of TOMS Classics has the same great features, plus patterns that are more eye-catching and fun. Your child will be able to run and play comfortably while also looking trendy.
Easy On and Off
Laces and straps can be a huge obstacle when your preschooler is trying to put on their own shoes. However, there's nothing to worry about with this pair. They've got an elastic gore that allows them to be slipped right on, saving time and effort.
Though the outsole is fairly thin and is not suitable for walking on unsmooth terrain such as trails, they do offer their fair share of benefits. Made of rubber, they are durable and provide traction for everyday street wear. They are also more flexible and lightweight, making it easier and less fatiguing to run and play in them.
Cost and Value
Despite being from such a popular brand, they actually cost around as much as the typical shoe. A pair of these makes for a great go-to footwear on warm, sunny days.
3. Adidas Superstar
You're guaranteed to recognize this next pick on our list. For the past year, Adidas Superstars have been one of the most popular streetwear shoes ever. You simply can't go out without seeing several people wearing them. There's a reason behind it, though - with their classy stripes and minimalist sneaker design, they are just so simple, versatile, and fashionable that you can't help but want a pair. Now designed for kids as well, your son or daughter can hop on the trend, too. Besides looking nice, they've also got lots of practical features like protection and durability. A wide range of different stripe colors is available, including blue, pink, and even metallic, as shown in the image.
Despite being a sneaker, they actually offer quite a lot of protection. They've got a shell toe design that keeps the toes protected. The overall upper is also made of thick, protective material that can keep the feet snug and warm.
A breathable mesh lining can be found in this footwear. It allows the feet to breathe during a long day, reducing the likelihood of your son or daughter having sweaty or smelly feet when they take off their shoes.
Cost and Value
The Adidas Superstars are quite pricey. It's understandable, considering their popularity and the amazing reputation of the brand. However, it may not be so practical, because your preschooler might grow out of them quickly.
4. KEEN Newport H2
May smell bad
If you're the kind of person who loves the outdoors, and who is often going on trips to the mountains, the beach, or the lake, then you've most likely heard of KEEN. This brand is the holy grail of all outdoor-lovers. The KEEN Newport H2 is a super popular sandal amongst adults, and the kids' version is just as amazing. For all your summertime family outings, they are a must-have. With a quick-dry lining and a washable polyester upper, they are very easy and effortless to clean and dry. The non-marking rubber sole minimizes the risk of slipping, and the durable PFC-Free materials ensure that you stay environmentally conscious without having to sacrifice practicality or high quality. On top of that, the insole design is made to cradle the natural shape of the foot to provide optimal comfort and support, as well as to reinforce healthy alignment of the foot.
Something unique to KEEN footwear is their footbed design, labeled as "metatomical." The word is a combination between metatarsals (meaning the bones of the foot) and anatomical (meaning bodily structure overall). The result is a footbed that contours to the curves of the foot to provide optimal support and alignment.
There is a hook and loop strap over the instep to secure the fit. For extra security to keep them nice and snug, a lace capture can also be found.
Cost and Value
With regards to the brand's excellent reputation and the intricate, supportive design of this sandal, they are an incredible bargain. For a very reasonable price, you can get them for your son or daughter, allowing them to play and explore while staying comfortable and protected.
5. Hoy Salt Water
Hard to slip on
Sandals are a must-have for everyone. For a hot summer day, there's no better shoe style. Their design keeps them nice and airy, and their strap design can get very creative and stylish. These sandals have two adjustable straps that ensure a snug and comfortable fit. The overall footwear is lightweight and will not weigh down your child and add extra bulk to the feet as they are playing or exploring. The sandals are also waterproof, making them super practical for beach and lake days. What's more, their cost is very reasonable, especially considering all their great features. Every penny you spend will be towards your child's comfort and protection.
The buckles aren't just there for the looks. Having them on straps renders the sandals adjustable, meaning that even if your child's feet grew a lot since last summer, you can still adjust them to make them fit this year. This way, one pair can last for longer.
As much as sandals are practical, they can be fashionable and creative, too. Many different colors and patterns are offered for this model, including bright fuschia, floral, and lime. Let your child pick and choose their favorite!
Cost and Value
At a glance, this pair costs about as much as the average pair. However, their adjustable size makes their sizing more flexibility, meaning they can be worn for longer than most non-adjustable footwear. Because your preschooler will be growing quickly, this is a huge benefit.
6. KEEN Seacamp II CNX
Rubber toe bumper
Last but not least, we have another great pair of sandals by KEEN. These have a more protective design compared to the other pair we mentioned. Their combination of hook-and-loop straps with a bungee elastic lacing results in a snug and secure fit - they'll stay on no matter how wild your child gets at the water park. They've also got a multi-directional lug pattern on the outsole to increase traction of wet or slippery surfaces, and a polyester webbing upper for breathability and quick drying. Like all KEEN sandals, they are also machine washable. In terms of appearance, they are available in lots of different colors that will suit the taste of both boys and girls.
Lose some - but gain more. With the CNX technology, an entire line of shoes by KEEN has been reduced to 10 ounces each. This model is one of them. Meanwhile, all the great features that KEEN is known for are still provided.
The footbed of the footwear is anatomically engineered to suit the curves of your preschooler's foot. By cradling the heels and supporting the arches, the natural alignment of the foot is encouraged and maintained, leading to short-term comfort as well as long-term health.
Cost and Value
You can't get high quality without expecting a high cost at the same time. That's the case with these sandals. Though it may seem overpriced, a closer look at all the technologies, high-quality materials, and intricate designing that took part in their construction justifies their cost.
7. Timberland Adventure Seeker
Textured EVA footbed
Not for sensitive skin
Puddles after a rainy day? Muddy road? Sandy beach? No worries. With the Adventure Seeker 2-strap sandals by Timberland, your preschooler will be able to explore it all while staying stable and comfortable on their feet. With synthetic uppers, they are easy to clean and quick to dry, meaning you don't have to worry about them getting wet. Plus, the overall sandal is nice and lightweight, and the EVA footbeds provide comfortable cushioning for all-day wear. The outsoles are made of durable, 15% recycled rubber. Technicalities aside, they also just have a very ordinary yet adorable appearance, and they come in a range of different colors such as pink, green, beige, and navy.
There's nothing worse than coming home from a long, adventurous day and still have to wash your child's because they smell too bad. Thankfully, an antimicrobial treatment has been applied to the footbeds of this sandal to prevent odor and bacteria. Unfortunately, some customers claim that this treatment was too strong and caused a skin reaction, so be careful of that if your child has sensitive skin.
No laces or buckles - just two convenient velcro straps. Let your son or daughter slip them on and secure them without help. They'll feel more confident in themselves, making it a great start to the day ahead.
Cost and Value
This pair is one of the cheaper ones on the list. If your child is growing fast, they'll be a great purchase because they will provide great features when worn, but their low cost means you won't feel too reluctant to buy another pair once this one is outgrown.
8. Crocs Handle It
Sizing runs small
Rainy days may be gloomy and inconvenient for you, but for your child, it's just another day to have a great time. With these rain boots, they'll be able to splash and play all they want without getting themselves soaked through. The rubber uppers keep water out without being too stuffy for the feet. A tread pattern can be found on the outsole of the boot, resulting in good grip on wet and slippery surfaces. As well, the boots come in many different colors including yellow, grass green, and carnation pink, all of which are bright and eye-catching. The day might be gloomy, but your child's look and mood won't be!
Easy On and Off
As stated in the name of the model, there are large handles on both sides of the boot. This way, your preschooler will be able to pull them on and off on their own.
Kids can be unsteady enough on their feet, and wet terrain doesn't improve the situation. However, by keeping the weight of these boots nice and light, it prevents any additional bulk from weighing them down and making their steps unsteady.
Cost and Value
These rain boots cost about as much as the regular adult rain boot. They aren't cheap but keep in mind that they are of high quality. Plus, compared to some of the other items on the list, they're quite inexpensive.
9. Nike Sunray Adjust 4
Nike is one of the most popular sportswear brands out there. Their footwear is worn by elite athletes - but they're got pairs for little adventurers, too. The Sunray Adjust 4 sandal is a great sandal for your family outings during the summer, whether it's to the water park, to the lake, or to the beach. It's easy to slip on and off, and their synthetic upper and sole make them quick to dry and easy to wash. Flexibility is offered, allowing for easier walking and running around. Cushioning is also provided while also keep them lightweight. On top of that, there are lots of color options available that will suit the taste of both boys and girls - including but not limited to red/black, pink/blue, and navy blue.
Easy On and Off
A hook and loop strap closure is featured. Slipping them on is super easy, and your preschooler will be able to do it themselves without your help. Furthermore, the strap closure makes their sizing more flexible so that, if they end up being too big or too small, you can tighten or loosen the strap accordingly.
Featuring a Sensory Motion technology midsole, the feet is cradled with every stride, resulting in a supportive and comfortable underfoot feel. In the long term, it makes walking easier and less fatiguing, saving your son or daughter's energy for their playing and running around.
Cost and Value
Because they are by Nike, these sandals aren't the cheapest. However, you've got to think of the reason behind it. Nike's shoes have always been of great, consistent quality, and we have no doubt that their footwear for kids offers nothing less.
10. Crocs Crocband II.5
Limited color options
This pair is another one by Crocs. However, unlike the rainboots we mentioned earlier, these have the classy clog design and are more versatile. Though the appearance of these shoes has earned them quite a reputation, there's a reason they are popular to begin with - and it all comes down to practicality. The Croslite material used provides the perfect combination of desirable features on a hot summer day - the clogs are lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable to wear. No matter what your child is doing, they'll stay comfortable and protected at the same time. What's more, the heel strap offers a secure fit while keeping things simple. There are benefits for the parent too - the clogs are odor-resistant and easy to clean. Say goodbye to dirty sandals and smelly sneakers!
Easy to Clean
The materials used in their construction renders them easy to clean and quick to dry. It doesn't matter if it's water, mud, or scuffs, it can all be scrubbed away easily with some soap and water.
There's nothing worse than wearing stuffy footwear on a hot day. Like the classic Croc clogs, these have the holes on the toe box that provide airflow. Because moisture can be released, the odor is also prevented from accumulating. Now that's what we call hitting two birds with one stone!
Cost and Value
What's great about Crocs is their simplicity and practicality. So even though you might think the clog isn't worth their price by the looks of them, but let us assure you that you'll get the full value of your purchase.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Kids are hard on their shoes, so you need to make sure you're buying a pair that will take a beating. Shoes can also be expensive, and regardless of price, durability is something you should invest in. When we looked at each product on our list, we wanted to make sure we were showing some of the most durable options available.
A good poriton of durability depends on the materials used in the shoe. Leather uppers are relatively common, and are one of the most durable materials available for shoes. Canvas shoes will often have reinforcement around key areas such as the eyelets to enhance durability, and in the case of eyelets, airflow to an extent.
You also have to look at the outsole. This is the part of the shoe that is touching the ground beneath you, and as such it is often the first part of a shoe to show signs of wear and damage. While a certain level of wear and tear is expected from being worn all the time, in a good pair of shoes it likely won't become an issue until your child has outgrown the shoes anyways.
Ease of Use
Who doesn’t like convenience? As lives get busier, adults are turning to loafers, flats, and zip-up heels to save time and effort when putting on their footwear. But for children’s footwear, convenience is more of a necessity and less of a luxury or a lazy way out, as with adults. We all know how fidgety kids can be, so it can be hard for them to stay still while you double-tie the laces or carefully adjust the buckles. On top of that, they will probably want to put on their own shoes. As they are transitioning from being a toddler to a preschooler, they’ll want to do more things and feel like a big kid. Not only does this save your time, but it’s also great for them to gradually become more capable, independent, and responsible for themselves. Therefore, choosing a pair that’s easy to take off and put on is always a good idea.
The first type of closure you’ll think of is no doubt velcro. It is also one of the most common types of closures, precisely because of their convenience. They are adjustable and can be tightened or loosened easily. This is great because your preschooler’s feet might grow quickly, so you want to be prepared for that and not have to buy a new pair as soon as the previous one gets remotely too small. Besides that, velcro straps stay closed. Unlike laces, you and your child don’t have to worry about them coming loose and having to redo them during the day. The process of putting them on or taking them off is also super quick and easy (albeit slightly loud, but since when did kids mind noise?).
For little girls, flats are also great. These often don’t have any kind of straps or laces at all, so your daughter can simply slip them on and be good to go. However, the downside is that their size is less adjustable. If she grows out of them a bit, or if the pair you ordered happens to be slightly too roomy, there isn’t much you can do.
Size is one of the most important things to look out for when buying footwear – for yourself and for others, but especially for your child. The perfect, most comfortable size can only be determined by your child, so it’s very important to get their opinion when they are trying footwear on. With that said, here are some pointers to guide you in the right direction.
Style is as important for kids as it is for adults. Childhood is when your overall sense of style begins to develop, so we felt it was necessary to showcase a variety of both styles and functions, giving you a wide range of products to fit various needs. From seasonal designs such as galoshes to fashion designs like ballet flats, there's a shoe on here for every child.
While parents may consider the function to be more important than anything else, kids are going to be the most interested in aesthetics. This is why some shoes feature popular children's characters such as the Avengers. Work with your child to find something you can both agree on in terms of both form and function.
The adjustability comes hand in hand with sizing and convenience. It’s always great to have footwear that can be adjusted in sizes, such as with laces and straps. That way, you can accommodate thick socks or afternoon foot swelling (which happens more than you might think, especially after sitting for a long time!). Also, if you order the footwear online and they end up being half a size off, it’s easier to make do.
All these benefits are applicable to children’s shoes as well. However, what differs is that your child is still growing. Their shoe size will get larger, and quickly, too. If you don’t make sure to get a pair that’s flexible in sizing, they might become uncomfortable after just half a year. Then, they can’t be worn anymore. In the long term, it’ll cost you quite a lot of money. Not to mention your child might have a pair that they love and are reluctant to part with.
In terms of adjustability, velcro and straps are probably the best options. Laces work too, but keep in mind that they aren’t as convenient and can be a hassle to deal with. Those who are just slip-on are not adjustable despite being very very convenient and may need to be replaced sooner.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While it's a little tough to watch them head out for their first day at preschool, rest assured they'll be well cared for! Having the right shoes that are versatile enough for indoor and outdoor use will make it easy for them to head out for recess as well as listen to story time.
Make sure to pack something the teachers can use just in case, like snacks, extra clothing, or an extra pair of shoes, or favorite animal.
It's important to leave enough room for growth in your little one's footwear, but also to make certain they have sturdy soles for play, as well as support to help them play their hardest!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What does “Toddler,” “Little Kid,” “Big Kid” mean?
These words can be seen when you’re looking at sizes. Generally, “Toddler” refers to kids aged one to four, “Little Kid” refers to kids aged four to eight, and “Big Kids” refers to kids aged eight to twelve. Your preschooler will be somewhere on the larger end of “Toddler” sizes, or on the smaller end of the “Little Kid” sizes.
q: Are preschoolers’ footwear worth spending a fortune on?
It all depends on how much you have to spare and what you value. Generally speaking, kids grow very quickly, so it’s smartest to budget the amount spend on their clothing because they might soon need to be replaced. However, spending a lot on one footwear can have benefits, too. Expensive items tend to be of higher quality. They not only last longer (which might not be of much use), they also tend to be more comfortable. Also, if you want to dress up your kid, you’ll have to spend quite a lot on name brands.
q: Can my child wear flats as everyday footwear?
Little girls love wearing pretty ballet flats. But besides appearance, this type of footwear is also very comfortable thanks to their flexible upper and sole. These can be worn on smoother grounds, such as in the city, on sidewalks, and in preschool. However, because their outsoles tend to be thin, they are not suitable for uneven or bumpy terrain such as on trails.
q: How do I keep my child's shoes clean?
Kids play hard, and it can take a toll on their shoes. Most shoes on this list can easily be spot cleaned with a damp cloth. This is helpful for catching spills as soon as they happen, but what about dirt that accumulates over time? This depends a lot on the shoe itself. Most shoes will come with care instructions, so pay attention to these carefully. While some shoes may be hardy enough to survive a wash cycle, others need to be treated with more care.