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The Best Toddler Shoes for Every Activity

These sandals, sneakers and dress shoes aren’t just super-cute—many have earned an APMA seal, so they’re good for your kid’s feet to boot.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated August 10, 2023
Toddler Shoes Hero
Image: Chomplearn | Shutterstock
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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 some bonus categories you never knew you needed. But first, we’re sharing some expert tips for buying toddler shoes.

A Guide to Toddler Shoe Sizes

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.

Image: The Bump

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:

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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.

Choosing the Best Toddler Shoes

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.

Best Toddler Shoe Brands

Below find three brands offering stylish toddler shoes, many of which have earned the APMA Seal of Acceptance.

  • Stride Rite Stride Rite toddler shoes truly are the best in class. A combination of superior craftsmanship and premium materials, ensure the brand’s sneakers, dress shoes and boots stand the test of time. Plus, the shoes are podiatrist approved as Stride Rite has won the APMA Seal of Approval time and again.
  • See Kai Run Available at Nordstrom and other select retailers, See Kai Run is another top-rated toddler shoe brand. Every single style in the collection is APMA approved, and the brand even offers adaptive shoes for kids with additional physical or sensory needs. How great is that?
  • Pediped. Pegged as the next best thing to bare feet Pediped shoes have been awarded the APMA Seal of Approval. Choose from the original soft sole shoes and the rubber grip n go soles, which work well for busy tots on the move.

Best Toddler Shoes

Read to start your search for the best toddler footwear? We’ve found fabulous pairs for toddler girls and boys. Without further ado, keep scrolling to see our top picks which include a few APMA-approved styles.

Best toddler dress shoes

L’Amour Tyler Lace-Up Shoe
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Classic design
  • Stitch details
  • Padded ankle cuff and cushioned soles
Things To Consider
  • This style tends to run small
  • Not suitable for vegans

Been invited to a wedding or fancy event with your kids? Don’t forget to invest in a pair of toddler dress shoes. Perfect for special occasions, these leather lace ups have a padded cuff, built-in arch support and cushioned insoles so your little one can hit the dance floor in comfort.

Size range: 5 to 13 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler bar shoes

Footmates Sherry Mary Jane
Image: Nordstrom
What We Love
  • Interchangeable insoles
  • Classic design
  • Hook-and-loop closure
Things To Consider
  • This style tends to run large

Inspired by the iconic Mary Jane design, these fancy toddler shoes work perfectly with a dress and frilly socks or even a school uniform. Designed for a custom fit, this pair comes with two interchangeable insoles (regular and wide-fit) so your little one has room to grow. Plus, the box toe design gives little tootsies plenty of wiggle room while a firm heel counter provides stability and support to early walkers.

Size range: 5 to 13.5 | Material: Leather | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler sneakers

Stride Rite Made 2 Play Bolt Sneaker
Image: Stride Rite
What We Love
  • APMA Seal of Approval
  • Available in regular and wide-fit sizes
  • Machine-washable
Things To Consider
  • Some parents report loose threads after a short period of time

These Stride Rite toddler sneakers check a lot of boxes. Easy to fasten? Check. Cushy footbeds? Check. Machine-washable? Check. APMA approved? Double check. Available in four cute colors, these shoes have Ortholite memory foam footbeds and an anti-odor lining (because even little feet get stinky sometimes!). Meanwhile lightweight non-marking rubber outsoles ensure these ultra-comfy kicks can withstand the most rambunctious toddler activities.

Size range: 5 to 10 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler water shoes

What We Love
  • Grippy soles and waterproof material
  • Reinforced toe bumper
  • Adjustable hook-and-loop strap
Things To Consider
  • Sizes tend to sell out fast

Next up on our list of the best toddler shoes for every activity are these water-friendly kicks from outdoor experts Merrell. Wide nubby outsoles provide plenty of traction on slippery surfaces and a reinforced bumper protects your kiddo from stubbed toes. Better yet, the lightweight upper feels as close to barefoot as you’ll get, and also means that these shoes dry out in a flash.

Size range: 4 to 10 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber

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Best squeaky toddler shoes

ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers with On/Off Squeaker Switch
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Cute animal-themed designs
  • Squeaker switch
Things To Consider
  • Materials not specified

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. We’re partial toward this sweet kitty design, but really, we adore every single animal-themed style.

Size range: 2 to 13 | Material: N/A | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler winter boots

UGG Kids' Neumel Water Resistant Platform Boot
Image: Nordstrom
What We Love
  • Soft wool lining
  • Easy to fasten strap
  • Water-resistant suede material
Things To Consider
  • Limited sizes available
  • High price point

UGG boots are back and better than ever! Case in point: These mini toddler boots with a soft wool lining and grippy platform sole. Unlike previous iterations, the suede upper is water-resistant so your little one is ready for outdoor adventures.
Size range: 6 to 12 | Material: Suede and wool | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler sandals

See Kai Run Kids Jetty III
Image: Zappos
What We Love
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Whimsical print
  • Water-friendly materials
Things To Consider
  • Limited sizes available
  • No toe bumper

Searching for summer shoes for toddlers? Check out these darling sandals by See Kai Run. Awarded the APMA Seal of Acceptance, these shoes have a flexible rubber outsole and two adjustable hook-and-loop straps for a secure fit. And get a load of that cute print inspired by the beloved Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Size range: 7 to 13 | Material: Jersey and EVA foam | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler snow boots

The North Face Toddler Alpenglow II Boots
Image: The North Face
What We Love
  • Waterproof, seam-sealed construction
  • Insulation for warmth
  • Treaded sole
Things To Consider
  • Sizes tend to run small

For folks living in colder climates a pair of toddler snow boots are sure to come in clutch. This pair by The North Face are well-insulated and weather-sealed against the elements—meaning tots can enjoy a snow day without complaining of chilly toes. Grippy soles reduce the risk of falls and an easy to fasten crossover strap makes them easy to pull on and take off.

Size range: 4 to 9 | Material: Ballistic-mesh, leather and polyester Sole type: Thermoplastic

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Best slip-on toddler shoes

TOMS Tiny Alpargata Glow In The Dark Weather
Image: TOMS
Buying Options
TOMS|$35.95
What We Love
  • Glow in the dark pattern
  • Adjustable hook-and-loop fastener
Things To Consider
  • Flat style doesn’t offer much arch support

Brighten up your day with these super-cute toddler shoes. The slip-on style features cushy soles, an adjustable hook-and-loop closure and a happy sun appliqué. The best part? These canvas shoes actually glow in the dark.

Size range: 4 to 11 | Material: Canvas | Sole type: Rubber

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Best toddler clog

What We Love
  • Slip-on style
  • Cushioned sole
  • Customizable with Jibbitz charms
Things To Consider
  • Design aesthetic is not to everyone’s taste

Love them or hate them, crocs are among the best shoes for toddlers. Why? Comfort of course. Croslite foam cushioning offers all-day comfort and support, a closed toe protects tiny tootsies and ventilation holes provide plenty of airflow. But the best part is that these clogs are incredibly easy to clean—simply wipe them down with soapy water, rinse and then leave them to air dry.

Size range: 4 to 10 | Material: Croslite | Sole type: Croslite

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Best toddler rain boots

Hunter Kids First Classic Pull-On Rain Boots
Image: Zappos
Buying Options
Zappos|$65.00
What We Love
  • Grab handles
  • Natural rubber material
  • Classic design
Things To Consider
  • Limited sizes available

Most kids can’t resist a good ol’ puddle jump, which is why toddler rain boots are a must. And this pair by Hunter is pretty hard to beat. The classic red wellington boot is made from vulcanized natural rubber that’s totally waterproof. Meanwhile, a treaded sole helps prevent slips and a soft cotton lining curbs sweaty feet. Ready for the real standout feature? These boots have grab handles making them easy for little hands to pull on and take off.

Size range: 7 to 10 | Material: Rubber and cotton | Sole type: Rubber

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Best wide-fit toddler shoes

New Balance 574 NEW-B Hook & Loop
Image: New Balance
What We Love
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Cool design
  • Hook-and-loop strap
Things To Consider
  • New Balance styles tend to sell out fast

Last up on our list of the best toddler shoes is this APMA approved pair by New Balance. Designed to match the iconic 574 adult sneaker, this miniature version hits the spot in terms of style and function. Flexible, durable and chic, this pair boasts a generous toe box and instep while a hook-and-loop closure offers an adjustable fit. It’s roomier than a regular sneaker but also comes in three different widths—standard, wide and extra wide—so kids with wide feet won’t miss out on this super-cool style.

Size range: 2 to 9.5 | Material: Leather and textile | Sole type: Rubber

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How We Chose the Best Toddler Shoes

We get it—kids require many pairs of shoes, especially as their feet seem to grow at a mile a minute! To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing toddler shoes, including style, fit, materials and more. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable pair of shoes that will meet your child’s needs.

To decide which products are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading toddler brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for families, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products with their own families.

To make sure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we looked for certifications and seals of approval from key organizations like the American Podiatric Medical Association

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

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