Whether they’re just getting on their feet or they’re already walking confidently, the best toddler shoes are both functional and fun
Toddler footwear needs to work for all phases of a toddler’s growth. Children develop at different stages, and not all toddlers will immediately spring onto their feet. Toddler feet continue to develop, even once they start walking, with bones growing and fusing as the child becomes bigger.
Remember: when your child first starts walking, barefoot is the best way to help their feet develop properly; it aids bone development and muscle strength. That said, children can’t be barefoot all the time. Shoes that allow healthy growth are essential – and good shoes will be comfortable, supportive and easy to put on and remove.
Finding the best toddler shoes that tick all these boxes may feel intimidating, but there’s no cause for concern. Here, we guide you through what you need to know when choosing your toddler’s first shoes. And below that you’ll find our pick of the best toddler shoes available in a range of styles and prices.
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How to choose the best toddler shoes for your child
What features should I look for in a good pair of toddler shoes?
When shopping for toddler shoes, take note of the following:
- Flexible soles – These allow for more natural movement, even when your child can’t be barefoot.
- Non-slip soles – Textured soles will help prevent falls as your child explores the world around them.
- Easy-to-use straps – These are helpful for multiple reasons. Riptape straps are easy to open and close, making it easier for children to learn how to put on their own shoes. They also allow you to adjust the footwear as the child grows, ensuring the shoes continue to fit well.
- Roomy toe box – Having about a half-inch of space at the top of the shoe allows for growth. Space in the toe box also allows children to flex and spread their toes, which is how they practise balancing.
How do I ensure the shoe fits correctly?
When you’re shopping for shoes for your toddler, measurements are crucial. If possible, it’s best to go to a store that specialises in children’s shoes, such as Clarks. Measurements should be taken of both of your children’s feet, since they can vary by as much as half a size.
If you can’t get to a store, online guides can help you measure at home. Ensure that a child is standing up, and not curling their toes, when taking measurements of your child’s feet.
Once you have a size to work with, it’s time to try on some shoes. Have your child wear the same socks they wear day-to-day to ensure the shoes fit comfortably. Once they’re wearing the shoes, use your thumb to push down on the front of the shoe to ensure the toes aren’t butting right up against the inside of the toe box.
Since children’s feet grow so quickly, it’s best to leave at least a half-inch, or a thumb’s width, between the big toe and the top of the shoe. Check that the heel of the shoe is sitting securely against the back of the foot; if it’s too loose, it will slide up and down as they walk, potentially irritating the skin.
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The best toddler shoes you can buy in 2023
1. Clarks City Bright: Best toddler shoes overall
Price: £24 | Buy now from Clarks
The Clarks City Bright offer everything parents would want from a pair of casual shoes for their toddler. The canvas top is comfortable and lightweight, making it easy for children to move around. The rubber soles are flexible, encouraging more natural movement in the child’s feet. They fasten using a riptape strap, making the shoes easy for parents and toddlers to put on and take off.
Aside from the conventional features that make these shoes a great choice, they’re machine washable, too. Parents can toss the trainers into the washing machine on a delicate cycle, and they’ll be as good as new without any added effort.
Available in a variety of colours and patterns, you’ll have no trouble finding a pair to match any outfit. City Bright shoes also come in half sizes, standard width, wide and extra wide to help accommodate fast-growing feet.
Key details – Sizes: 4 to 9.5; Colours: Navy Canvas, Silver, Pink Canvas, Navy Interest, Khaki Camo, Blue Multi, Khaki, Grey Combination, Bright Blue; Fastening type: Riptape; Materials: Canvas, rubber
2. Bobux Grass Court: Best toddler trainers
Price: £47 | Buy now from Bobux
A good pair of trainers is the everyday go-to for many people, and it’s no different for our children. These high-quality Grass Court trainers from Bobux are made with premium leather that’s non-toxic and child-safe. Paired with a cotton lining, the leather allows the child’s feet to breathe, making them super-comfortable.
The soles are highly flexible yet durable, and designed to handle whatever abuse toddler feet may put them through. The wavy pattern offers excellent flexibility and an anti-slip grip. The base is also slightly rounded to support the ankle and help with mobility.
With more than a dozen colours available, there’s an option to suit any style and toddler. The Grass Court trainers are from Bobux’s Step-Up line, made specifically for early walkers. They’re designed for the shape of a toddler’s feet, encouraging those beginner steps.
Key details – Sizes: 18 to 22; Colours: Smoke, White, Navy, Black, Gold, Seashell, Sapphire, Emerald, Blueberry, Rose Gold, Raspberry, Fuchsia, Dusk Cloud, Moon Cloud, Aqua, White/Red/Rainbow, White/Silver/Rainbow, Neon; Fastening type: Riptape; Materials: Premium leather, cotton, thermoplastic rubber
3. JoJo Maman Bébé Cosy Lined Ankle Wellies: Best toddler wellies
Price: £22 | Buy now from JoJo Maman Bébé
Is there anything more appealing to children than splashing in puddles on rainy days? Even those kids who can barely walk will stomp in the rain as best they can while holding a parent’s hand. This is the reason a good pair of wellies are a must.
These wellies are ankle-length and won’t feel clunky on your toddler’s feet. The upper part of the boot and the sole are made from natural rubber, meaning they’re soft and flexible. They also have a fleece lining, helping your toddler’s feet stay warm, even on the coldest days.
The rigid soles allow for a more secure grip, while the elastic sides make it easy to slide the boots on and off your toddler’s feet. The wellies are available in two colours: a classic mustard yellow and a more understated navy.
Key details – Sizes: 3 to 11; Colours: Navy, Mustard; Fastening type: N/A; Materials: Rubber, polyester
4. Kidly Canvas High Top Trainers: Best warm toddler shoes
Price: £24 | Buy now from Kidly
Toddlers need cosy shoes to get them through the winter months. These fleece-lined high-top trainers are the perfect shoe to keep them warm. The breathable, suede cotton canvas tops are stylish and come in four colour options. The lining is a polyester fleece, which will help hold in heat against the child’s feet.
The shoes fasten easily with one riptape strap and elasticised laces, plus they include a pull tab on the back of the shoe to help children learn to put on the shoes themselves. The insoles are padded, keeping children’s feet comfortable throughout the day, while the recyclable rubber soles are designed to be anti-slip.
Designed to be easy to clean, they can be wiped or thrown into the washing machine. Free of animal derivatives, they’re vegan, too.
Key details – Sizes: 4.5 to 13; Colours: Stone, Moss, Chambray Blue, Plum; Fastening type: Riptape, elasticised laces; Materials: Cotton canvas, polyester, recyclable thermoplastic rubber
5. Kidly Jelly Sandals: Best toddler sandals
Price: £14 | Buy now from Kidly
When playing poolside or by the beach during the summer, a good pair of water-friendly sandals are a must. These jelly sandals are ideal for children to wear in and out of the water, protecting their feet and keeping them comfortable.
Featuring closed-toe protection, children won’t stub their toes on underwater rocks or other hazards. They have cushioned insoles that can be removed if needed. Although they have a buckle for appearances, the shoes use a riptape closure, so children can easily learn to put on and take off their sandals independently.
The sole is textured for added safety and slip prevention. Designed to dry quickly, they can be kept clean with a quick rinse and wipe. It’s recommended that children wear socks for the first couple of uses to ensure a proper fit for optimal comfort without irritation.
Key details – Sizes: 4 to 11; Colours: Khaki, Cloud Grey, Blush Pink, Apple, Tan, Thistle, Chalk, Coral, Honey, Sea Blue; Fastening type: Riptape; Materials: PVC, EVA
6. Geox Zyzie: Best toddler shoes for new walkers
Price: £25 | Buy now from La Redoute
Geox has worked with the Italian Association of Podiatrists to create the Geox First Steps line of shoes. The Zyzie baby slides are a comfortable, slipper-style shoe that’s perfect for wear around the house. They have a perforated outsole, allowing the feet to breathe, and a removable waterproof membrane.
The shoes are designed in a natural shape, encouraging proper ergonomic development in children’s feet. The scored tread and balanced gait help provide stability as they learn to steady their steps. They also feature a highly flexible sole for more natural movement. With a single riptape, it’s quick and easy to put on and remove these shoes.
The tops of the shoes are felt, with fabric and adorable animal detailing on the front. Overall, these shoes are a cosy and reliable option for toddlers just starting to find their footing.
Key specs – Sizes: 3.5 to 9; Colours: Grey/Navy, Dark Pink/Fuchsia; Fastening type: Riptape; Materials: Felt, synthetic material