Summer is coming, and our kiddos need shoes that can keep up with all the summer fun.
We love shopping for teeny tiny pair of shoes — they’re so cute. But what makes for the best summer shoes for kiddos, you ask? Safety and comfort should be top of mind. The AAP recommends opting for pairs that feature nonskid soles, which is especially important in the summer, when little ones run around on slippery surfaces and 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 your children cool during the hotter months (and 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 the strap in the back (often available for toddler and little kids sizes), flip flops are actually perfect additions to your summer shopping list.
Below, you can find our favorite flip-flops for every budget. They check off everything on our list: they’re comfortable and durable, they stay on, and they’re cute!
Old Navy Flip Flops ~ $3+
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 ~ $20+
Reef flip flops are very well-made and last forever. These are available in all sizes (the bigger sizes don’t have a heel strap).
Here’s what an Amazon reviewer 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, 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
The pair of shoes that fall in this category can be worn in and out of the water (even in salt water!). They are easy to clean and last forever. Best of all, these styles make it easy for even the smallest of kids to slide their feet in and out by themselves (“I do it by myself!!”). Seriously, you’ll make your little one’s day!
Native Jefferson Shoe ~ $35 – 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!
We also love Natives because they are so easy to clean. Here’s what a 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 are not available in as many different colors as Natives, but they are a great 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.”
Often Target does a BOGO on shoes, so you could possibly get two pairs for under $25.
Crocs Kids Clogs ~ $29
The omnipresent kids shoes, Crocs are easy for little ones to put on and take off on their own. Charlene was convinced that her little ones would trip with them on, 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 somehow infiltrated Gen Z’s world. Yes, they’re cool now, people… plus, they’re the most comfortable cloud to walk on. Get yourself a pair to match with your mini me on the playground!
This shoe is the quintessential water shoes for your littles — ready for any and all their summer adventures. They have a cushioned heel for comfort, rubber outsole for traction, and they are waterproof. It’s a triple threat — and it’s Teva, so you know they’re made for the great outdoors.
The one complain that some reviewers had was that the sizing was a bit difficult to figure out, but other than that, they hold up well enough to last two summers and give as hand-me-downs: “They were a touch big the first summer so we got two summers out of one pair. Two summers – including a trip to is 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!”
Just like with Crocs, the Hurricane Drift Tevas come in adult sizes. So if you’re planning on twinning with your littles on your summer adventures, these are for you.
Old Navy Water Sandals ~ $22
Perfect for water play, these sandals stay secure and offer a flexible sole for tiny feet to be active in: “These are nice! Easy to put on and the sole bend more than I thought it would, which is so much easier for my kid to walk in,” a reviewer said. So it’s an especially great sandal option for newer walkers.
Keen Seacamp II ~ $54
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. Some reviewers are saying that even though they are durable, they are lighter than the brand’s other models and are great 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.
Best Sandals for Boys and Girls
Freshly Picked Carmel Sandal [girl] or Bixby Sandal [boy] ~ $42
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. That’s right — leather that’s water proof. Charlene took hers and her kids’ to the beach, and they’ve really held up. The hardware is also rust free. Perfect for outdoor play in water splash pads.
Though a reviewer loves and buy them every summer for her girls (to dress up or go to the beach,” she warns to “watch the sizing… They are huge!”
Did we miss any best summer shoes for kiddos? Tell us what your go-to brand is in the comments below. Happy Summer!