The Best Toddler Shoes for Every Activity
February 10, 2021
Kids need a lot of clothes—but we don’t have to tell you that! Now that baby’s officially a toddler, they require a whole new assortment of attire, including footwear made to fully support their early steps. Not only do you want toddler shoes for every season and type of weather, but you’ll also want to get them a mix of casual and dressy kicks. That way, you’re covered for a variety of events and activities, from park playdates to kid-friendly weddings. Overwhelmed by the options? We’ve rounded up the best toddler shoes in every essential category: toddler boots, toddler sandals, toddler sneakers and toddler dress shoes. We’ve even thrown in a bonus category you never knew you needed. But first, we’re sharing some expert tips for buying toddler shoes.
The key to buying toddler shoes? Finding the perfect fit. If you’re confused about toddler shoe sizing, you’re definitely not alone: Different brands and retailers categorize toddler shoes in different ways. Here’s what you need to know:
• Younger kids’ shoe sizes (for babies and toddlers) start at 0 and go all the way up to 13.5. Then (to make things more confusing) the number scale restarts at 1 for older kids.
• Typically, toddler shoes (shoes for children ages 1 to 3) range from size 4 to size 9. (Of course, this may vary based on the child, the brand and the shoe style.)
• To make sure you’re buying the right size online, look for a label that mentions “walker” or “toddler.” If the shoes are labeled “youth” or “big kid,” it’s in older kids’ sizes.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of toddler shoe sizes, it’s time to find the right one for your child’s feet. To measure:
• Use a ruler or Brannock sizing device to get your kid’s foot length in inches. You can also print out a handy sizing chart for your tot to step on and measure their feet that way. ( Zappos has a great one that also tells you if your kid’s feet are wide.)
• Use a conversion chart to find the right size for your child’s foot length. Popular retailers, like Nordstrom, usually have standardized ones on their websites. For extra accuracy, consult a size conversion chart from the exact brand you’re buying from.
• Toddler feet grow pretty rapidly, so it’s smart to leave a little wiggle room: When they’re standing in the kicks, there should be a finger’s width of space between their feet and the end of their shoes. Re-measure your child’s feet every few months to ensure a proper fit.
Fit is important, but it’s only one factor in finding the best toddler shoes for your kid. You also need to consider their anatomy, which is why we highly recommend buying shoes with an American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal. The APMA Seal of Acceptance is only given to shoes proven to “promote good foot health” by actual foot specialists. This is super-important, especially now as your child is still developing. To view all the companies that sell APMA-approved kids’ shoes (and the specific pairs that have seals), visit the APMA’s website. (FYI, retailers like Zappos and Nordstrom also let you filter their stocks by APMA seal.) As you’ll see below, there’s a surprising amount of stylish options for tots.
Without further ado, keep scrolling to see our top APMA-approved toddler shoes for girls and boys.
Searching for fashion toddler boots they’ll wear all fall and winter? We’ve found two fabulous pairs for toddler girls and boys.
Livie & Luca Kids’ Sonoma Fashion Boot
Hello, fringe! These suede toddler boots are chic and comfortably flexible.
Buy it: Starting from $27, Amazon.com
Falcotto Naturino Boys 246 First Walker Booties
Or, try these adorable leather booties with an easy-on, easy-off hook-and-loop strap.
Buy it: Starting from $62, Amazon.com
When spring and summer roll around, you’ll need toddler sandals to keep their toes cool (but still protected). Here are two of the best toddler girl and boy shoes in this category.
Bobux Kids I-Walk Mirror Sandals
These hip and versatile toddler sandals feature soft, supple leather plus cozy padded footbeds.
Buy it: Bobux Kids I-Walk Mirror Sandals, $60, Zappos.com
Chaco Z1 Ecotread Sandal
Shopping for the best sporty toddler shoes? Check out these cute toddler sandals. They boast high-traction soles and a contoured footbed perfect for little feet.
Buy it: Starting from $34, Amazon.com
What would a roundup of the best toddler shoes be without some go-to toddler tennis shoes? These sneaks are where it’s at.
See Kai Run Stevie II Sneaker
You can’t go wrong with these cool-kid canvas toddler sneakers.
Buy it: $45, Nordstrom.com
Saucony Kids’ Baby Jazz H&L-K Sneaker
We love this brand for kids just as much as we love it for adults. Its assortment of sneakers, including these toddler tennis shoes, is seriously stylish. Bonus: They’re all supremely functional.
Buy it: Starting from $20, Amazon.com
If you’re shopping for a special occasion, you’ve come to the right place. Our list of the best toddler shoes includes these two fashion-forward toddler dress shoes.
Stride Rite SRT Giles Shoes
These oxford-style toddler dress shoes are fancy enough for semi-formal events but way comfier than your own dress shoes. (Sorry!)
Buy it: $50, Zappos.com
Pediped Naomi Flex Flats
These sweet little Mary Janes will garner lots of smiles. Better yet, the pair comes with multiple insoles so you can customize the fit.
Buy it: $55, Zappos.com
An unexpected addition to our list of the best toddler shoes? Squeaky kicks—yes, we said squeaky! The fun sound they make encourages kids to practice heel-to-toe walking. It’s also a great way to keep track of your little one. And when the noise becomes too much to handle? Simply stop it with the attached on/off switches. It’s really no wonder ikiki, the inventive brand behind these beloved shoes, earned an APMA seal.
Ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers in Dr. Owlivia Hoot
Whether you’ve got a toddler girl or boy, there’s a pair they’ll love. Take these owl squeaky shoes for toddlers, which are a real hoot!
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
Ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers in Sascha Narwhalski
We’re also partial toward this trendy narwhal design, but really, we adore every single animal-themed style.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.comUpdated July 2019
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