Whether your toddler is just starting to take their first steps or they’re already a confident walker, deciding the best shoes for toddlers can be an utter minefield.
Once you know how to choose shoes for toddlers and the key features to look for such as flexibility, durability and fit, there are a plethora of options out there. You want something functional but fun too, ones that they will love putting on, without tantrums!
The best shoes for toddlers need to be comfy, easy to get on and off and help support their little feet as they walk, run and play. The need to allow their feet to develop until they are ready for the best kids’ trainers or the best kids’ wellies.
But with so many adorable designs out there and with many different elements to think about, the pressure of choosing the best shoes for toddlers is real! Luckily, that’s where we come in. We’ve consulted the experts at Start-Rite and scoured the shops to find the best shoes for toddlers that adults and kids we love.
Do toddlers need special shoes?
It’s no surprise that toddler shoes are a lot different than adult shoes. Whilst we adults may go for style over substance, it’s important for toddlers to have the right fit, materials, shape and fastenings, to name but a few.
“With children, it may not be enough to just have scaled-down versions of adult shoes. Their first walking shoes should combine style, quality and fit,” says Sara Driscoll, Head of Buying & Product at Start-Rite Shoes.
“Shoes designed especially for children’s feet – designed to match the shape of a child’s foot and include that all-important growing room. Remember, the nerve endings in babies and toddler’s feet haven’t fully developed and your child may not be able to tell you that their feet are sore or squashed – so they need footwear with lots of room to grow and regular measuring.”
When toddlers first start wearing shoes, that means getting shoes measured every six to eight weeks (or when you want a new pair). Toddlers are on their feet a lot so their shoes need to be comfortable, and long-lasting too. If your toddler is fussing with what they wear then there’s no harm in letting them choose themselves. Once you’ve whittled it down to a couple of options that have all the practical elements, why not let your toddler have the final say?
What are the best shoes for toddlers learning to walk?
When toddlers are first learning to walk it’s important to let them roam around as much as they can barefoot to help with their balance and grip. But when they’re confident enough to step outside and explore beyond the comfort of your home, you are going to need shoes to help protect their feet.
“When babies are walking indoors and outdoors unaided for much of the day, their feet need more support and protection. First walking shoes should allow natural movement and the right level of support and protection for your toddler’s uniquely soft and light structured feet. This allows them to develop naturally, gain the right level of feedback from the terrain beneath and protect them throughout their exploring,” says Sara.
“As we head into spring, sandals and canvas are a great alternative for warmer weather, allowing fresh air to circulate around your child’s feet. Look out for styles with multiple adjustments, lightweight and flexible soles and machine washable canvas is an added bonus!”
With that in mind, check out our edit of the best shoes to shop now.
The best shoes for toddlers to shop now
1. Start-Rite Roar Bright Blue Nubuck Boys Riptape Pre-Walkers
Sizes: S2-S5 UK, Fitting F-G | Fabric: Leather | Care: Wipe Clean
An ideal first shoe, these super cute Jurassic print shoes are specifically designed for your toddler’s delicate feet. They have heel and toe bumpers for added protection and flexible, lightweight soles that are just as comfy as going barefoot. The double rip-tape fastening makes for an easy and snug fit. Crafted from super soft leather with mesh linings to keep feet fresh.
2. JoJo Maman Bebe Children’s Canvas Pumps
Sizes: 3-10 UK | Fabric: Cotton, Rubber sole
These pumps are excellent value for money and perfect for the warmer months. The velcro fastenings make it easy for kids to dress themselves and the grippy rubber sole helps them run around with ease. The upper fabric is 100% cotton keeping their feet cool in the summer too. They can come up wide so ideal if your child has wide feet. JoJo is also part of the BCorp community, helping its people and the planet. Available in blue, black and pink you’re probably going to want these in every colour.
3. Bobox Delight White Petal
Sizes: 22-26 EU | Fabric: Leather | Care: Wipe Clean
If you’re after a smarter shoe for those special occasions then you can’t beat a classic Mary Jane style. This white pair has a gold petal design for an extra dose of glamour. The single velcro fastening makes it simple to secure. Best suited to confident walkers, this pair is designed using quick-drying leather and a flexible sole with decent grip. Excellent quality, this premium pair comes in nine different colourways.
4. Bambini Market Soft Sole Trainer
Sizes: 3-7 UK | Fabric: Leather | Care: Wipe Clean
For toddlers who are just starting to take their first steps, this is a great choice with lots of positive reviews from customers. Made from soft, premium leather, they are super flexible for extra comfort and ease. They have a non-slip rubber sole and easy velcro straps too. Little ones will love the cool camo print. Perfect for your little explorer.
5. Geox Kaytan Baby Girl
Sizes: 2.5-8.5 UK | Fabric: Leather | Care: Wipe Clean
Another one for early walkers, these closed toe sandals have a sweet silver design kids will adore. Who doesn’t love a bit of shimmer? And when it comes to technical details they have everything covered too. Lightweight and flexible, they are cushioned for comfort and protection. Made from non-toxic chrome-free leather, they have excellent grip too.
6. M&S Kids Freshfeet Rainbow Riptape Trainers
Sizes: 5S-12S | Fabric: Other Materials
Kids and adults will love this fun, playful pair. Not just aesthetically pleasing, they are functional too. The M&S Freshfeet technology keeps them smelling sweet and they’re vegan-friendly too. Customers rate them as comfy and easy to clean too. Good value for money, they’re a decent everyday pair.
7. Kidly Label Jelly Sandal
Sizes: 4.5-8.5 UK | Fabric: Phthalate and BPA-free PVC | Care: Wipe Clean
These jelly sandals are a bestseller with loads of five star reviews and we can see why. Not just reserved for the beach, they’ll work for the playground too or whatever other mischief they may get up to. They have a supportive cushioned insole which can be removed for fast-drying after getting wet. The buckle decoration adds a smart touch and the velcro fastening makes it easy to whip on and off. Available in four chic shades.
8. Clarks Rex Quest Toddler Brown Leather
Sizes: 3-9.5 | Fabric: Leather
A fun find from Clarks, this playful pair will definitely grab your child’s attention. Crafted from brown leather with a dinosaur embellishment at the back they’re a great everyday shoe that still delivers the technical details. A toe bumper for extra protection and a grippy sole to stop any slips, the double fastening ensures a secure fit too. As an added bonus, the shoe’s lining is made from at least 50% recycled materials.
9. Next Lilac Unicorn Canvas Bumper Toe Trainers
Sizes: 3-12 UK | Fabric: Leather and Textile | Care: Machine Washable
It’s hard to resist these magical unicorn trainers and luckily they tick all the practical boxes too. They have comfy memory foam insoles and a slip-resistant outsole. They are also machine washable to take the stress out of cleaning too. Available in half sizes and standard and wide fit, you and your little one will love these.
10. Start-Rite Lottie Yellow Leather Classic T-Bar Buckly Shoes
Sizes: S4-12.5 UK, Fitting F | Fabric: Leather | Care: Wipe Clean
This classic design is a must-have in their shoe collection. Not only are they oh-so-adorable but they have everything you need to keep their feet supported too. There are padded ankles for extra comfort, leather linings to keep feet dry ad a secure buckle fastening that’s easy to adjust. We love the sunshine yellow for a pop of colour and a modern update on the timeless style.
11. Zara Leather Cage Sandals
Sizes: 2.5-9.5 UK | Fabric: Leather
These smart summer sandals are a great choice for summer parties. Crafted from leather for a more premium finish they have a side buckle fastening to get the perfect fit and they’re available in half sizes too. As an added bonus the leather has been produced using more sustainable methods. Gender neutral and available in sand brown or grey.