Time to put away the winter boots, yay! Summer is around the corner, and we all need footwear that can keep up with all the outdoor fun.
We love shopping for little pairs of shoes — they’re so stinking cute. But the best summer shoes for kids also need to factor in safety and comfort. The AAP recommends opting for kicks that feature nonskid soles, which are especially important throughout the spring and summer seasons, when little ones run around on slippery surfaces and tend to engage in a lot of water play. You may also want to favor breathable fabrics and/or designs that provide good air flow to keep little feet cool (bonus: this also keeps stinking, sweaty feet at bay).
To help you and your family be prepared, we put together this selection of our favorite sandals and waterproof summer shoes for kids. Check it out!
Best Flip Flops
Flip-flops for kids? Sure, younger kids may have trouble keeping the thong between the appropriate toes, but with the extra security of a strap in the back (often available for toddler and little kids sizes), flip flops are actually a perfect addition to your kid’s shoe closet.
Below are our favorite flip-flops for every budget. They check off everything on our list: they’re comfortable, durable, they stay on, and they’re cute!
Old Navy Flip Flops ~ $4+
They don’t get any cheaper than this, folks! These classic Old Navy flip flops get the job done. *Note these run big! I don’t recommend the “infant” sizes because they’re generally too narrow for chubby baby feet. Past infant sizes, they’re great.
One reviewer said: “My son loves these flippers (flip flops). He is only 3 and thinks they are the best. They did take a minute to get used to for him only because he isn’t used to something going between his toes but he loves them now and how quick and easy he can put them on and get out to play.”
Reef Kids – Ahi Flip Flops ~ $16+
Reef flip flops are very well-made and last forever. These are available in all sizes — we love that the heel strap on these has some give (it’s more stretchy), though note that the “big kid” sizes don’t have a heel strap.
Here’s what one mom said about the Ahi Flip Flops: “I have 8 kiddos and we LIVE on the beach and in flip flops, so we have purchased MANY different styles and brands through the years. These beat every other kids’ flip flop, hands down! Their quality and comfort are unparalleled; they are lightweight and stay on.”
Kids Crocs Flip Flops ~ $19
If your child is a Croc fan, they’ll probably like this flip flop. It’s as comfy as the brand’s quintessential, signature clog (below), incredibly light, and very cushy. We also love the stretchy strap in the back to secure the shoe around your tot’s foot.
One reviewer mentions that it’s especially a good shoe for little ones with chubby feet: “Most flip flops leave big indents above his toes after wearing them for short periods of time… These shoes do not. We love them!! He can almost put them on by himself (he’s two) and can wear them all morning while playing outside without any squeezing or discomfort.”
Best Water Shoes
Especially if you live on the coast or near water (or even you spend a lot of time at the community pool), you’re going to want an option that can be worn in and out of the ocean/lakes/pools/sprinkler/etc.
A huge benefit with water shoes is that they tend to be easy to clean and *very durable — many of them last forever. A final plus here is that these offer more “foot protection” (is that a thing?) — where flip-flops and sandals can sometimes leave little toes and feet subject to scratches and whatnot, these are a bit more full-bodied, if you will. On the downside, they really need to be the right size, otherwise you risk blisters… no fun.
Native Jefferson Shoe ~ $40 – Top Pick
The first warm weather season my son could walk, he wouldn’t wear any type of sandals. It was maddening, until I stumbled upon Natives. These are a durable, warm weather shoe option that double as a water shoe. I have found sandal options for boys are harder to come by than girls so this is my very top pick! Sorry to say, they got a little pricier this year…
We also love Natives because they are so easy to clean. Here’s what another parent had to say: “We love these shoes! We are in between sizes and sized up, and they are PERFECT. My son, who’s 3, loves them and is able to put them on by himself. These are great for play and in the water. They also clean up nicely!”
These aren’t available in as many different colors as Natives, but they are a serviceable alternative at a lesser cost. A reviewer said: “Love these shoes for my toddler. She wears these outside, to daycare, to the creek. They protect her feet while she is playing and are so easy to rinse off and keep clean.”
Crocs Kids Clogs ~ $39
The omnipresent shoe that screams summer, Crocs are easy for littles to put on and take off on their own. Charlene was convinced that her boys would trip in these, but it somehow turned out that they’ve never — not once — fallen. There’s really something magical about them. Great water shoes overall.
P.S.: Crocs have inexplicably made a comeback… even infiltratrating Gen Z’s world. Yes, they’re cool now, people! Plus, they’re actually really comfortable for walking. Get yourself a pair to match with your mini me on the playground!
These strappy sports sandals we all know and love are available in toddler and little kid sizes. These Tevas have a cushioned heel for comfort, rubber outsole for traction, and of course they are waterproof.
“They were a touch big the first summer so we got two summers out of one pair. Two summers – including a trip to an island where my son wore these almost exclusively for a week straight in sand and rocks – and I’m packing them up today to send to a friend as a hand-me-down because they still look so good. I cannot believe they are that durable!”
Keen Seacamp II ~ $65
For a full day outdoors, we are keen on Keen! The brand offers shoes that are durable, rugged and stable; and they’re sure to survive the toughest toddler moves. Also impressive: they’re surprisingly lightweight (especially given how sturdy they are). Many parents note that these are an optimal pick for wide feet, too.
A reviewer said: “Super easy to take on/off, durable, comfortable, easy to run, climb and jump in. They can get totally drenched & still be good to go play on the playground moments later.”
This shoe comes in sizes for toddler to big kids — and if you’re having trouble finding the right size/style, the Keen Newport is *very similar in quality, fit, etc.
Best Sandals for Boys and Girls
Freshly Picked Carmel Sandal [girl] or Bixby Sandal [boy] ~ $45
This is a great update to a traditional European sandal style. I prefer this sandal as the rubber sole is super flexible, almost sneaker like. The more flexible the sole, the easier for little feet to walk and run in safely. Plus, like a reviewer said, they are “so easy to put on and buckle. Comfy for kiddo to wear all day (no blisters!).” Yes, please!
Saltwater Sandals ~ $32
Made in a classic design, these sandals are water friendly: the leather is waterproof and the hardware is also rust-free. They’re perfect for outdoor play, sprinklers, splash pads, and yes, they even hold up at the beach. Note that the buckle makes the shoe very secure… but not the fastest/easiest on/off situation.
*Note that these run slightly large.
Did we miss any best summer shoes for kiddos? Tell us what your go-to brand is in the comments below. Happy Summer!