Looking for the best kids shoes brands? Here are my top 8 brands that support healthy foot development of your child’s feet and protect them.
When it comes to picking out shoes for your kids, I get how challenging it can be! There are so many brands to pick from and how are you supposed to know what the right fit for your child is?
With two kids, we’ve tried many different brands over the years. Some have held up way more than others. We’ve had a really great experience with a couple of brands – so much so that I’ve repurchased pairs many times.
So based on my experience as a mom of two little boys who are very tough on shoes, I’m sharing the best kids shoes brands that I think are worth investing in personally.
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Why pick barefoot kids for shoes?
Before we go any further, I will say that my top pick for kids shoes are barefoot style shoes.
What does this mean exactly?
Well barefoot shoes meet three main criteria:
1. They are lightweight and flexible so kids can move naturally like they would with bare feet.
2. They have a wide toe box to allow the toes some wiggle room, which is important for proper foot development.
3. They have a zero drop platform/flat sole that avoids putting unnecessary and unnatural tension on the muscles in the feet and legs.
These are all important characteristics in shoes, in my opinion. If you want to learn more about which specific barefoot and minimalist style shoes I recommend, click here to read more.
That said, I know there are occasions where we need different types of shoes for our kids, like for hiking or for fat feet, for example. Or you might even want a different style or fancy shoes for family photos – and that’s okay!
Here are my top recommendations for the best kids shoes brands based on category:
- Best kids shoes brand overall: Ten Little
- Best kids dress shoes brand: Ten Little
- Best kids casual shoes brand: Ten Little
- Best kids outdoor shoes brand: Merrell
- Best kids shoes brand for the gym: Plae
- Best kids shoes brand for sandals: KEEN
- Best kids shoes brand for barefoot shoes: VIVOBAREFOOT
- Best kids shoes brand budget option: See Kai Run or Stride Rite
- Best kids shoes brand for rain boots: Ten Little or TOTES
- Best kids shoes brand for cozy boots: Plae or Ten Little
With that said, let’s jump into the best kids shoes brands.
8 Best Kids Shoes Brands
1. Ten Little – TOP PICK
Ten Little is by far and away one of our most loved shoe brands for toddler shoes.
Their sneakers, high tops, and boots are so cute and come in a huge range of colors. My kids love picking out their new shoe color whenever we need a new pair. We are always stoked to get a new pair of shoes from Ten Little.
The sneakers are my favorite. However we wear their furry high tops in winter along with their rain boots. They make great new shoes for a little kid and older kids as well.
Ten Little | Toddler and Kids Shoes – Everyday Original Sneakers
Their sneakers in particular are easy to get on and off. Even my 2 year old can take them off all by himself and can almost get them all the way on.
At $39 a pair they are a tad pricey but more affordable than other options. However, I love the fit of them. They also offer a handy sizing guide that allows you to know exactly what size your child needs.
Their natural rubber sole is made from the milk of the Hevea tree making them a more sustainable option.
Plus, on the sole of the shoe, they have a line that shows when your child has outgrown their pair.
I love this because you can always make sure they’re in the right shoe size and not second guess yourself! Get the perfect fit, every time!
They also offer adaptive fits for kids who need them – you can get two different shoe sizes, strap extenders, and replacement insoles (if you need to replace old soles).
My take: In my opinion, Ten Little makes the best kids’ shoes for little feet.
They even have “first walkers” which are great for younger kids. They are extremely high quality at an amazing price point and are even great for wide feet.
2. PLAE – Save 20% On Your First Order Here
Plae is another favorite shoe brand of ours. We particularly like the Ty style and the Charlie waterproof. We preordered their new sandals for summer too (which are said to make great water shoes).
I find these run bigger than Ten Little’s sizing. I bought my son his first pair of Ty’s in the same size as what he had at Ten Little and they were at least two sizes two big.
He now fits in them but just something to be aware of – you’ll need to check the individual sizing of each brand.
Plae offers a bunch of different styles and different colors that are great for both boys and girls. They come in a large variety of colors and pattern styles too.
They are also great because they offer a fit for adaptive fits. These are great supportive shoes for kids who need them.
They have a breathable mesh upper, fit many a foot shape (including flat feet), have an easy pull tab (the tongue) to help littles get them on an off, and a rubber outsole for longevity and protection.
My take: My oldest son loves his Ty’s from Plae. They are lightweight and breathable on his feet (which is great for a kid who refuses to wear socks). He can get them on and off by himself easily. Just be aware to check the size guide before ordering!
Click here for 20% off your first order at Plae.
3. VIVOBAREFOOT – Best True Barefoot Style
VIVOBAREFOOT is perhaps one of the best known barefoot shoes brands.
They are wide, thin, and flexible – which makes them a preferred barefoot shoe.
The most popular kids style is the Primus Sport II. These are available on Amazon. They come in a regular and knit style, depending on your preference. I prefer the Knit style.
This shoe comes in toddler, kids, and junior sizing. This way you can keep sizing up in your child’s favorite shoe. They also have a variety of colors available to pick from.
VIVOBAREFOOT is a bit more expensive than other shoe brands. The Primus Sport II runs about $80 per pair.
They are worth it though if you feel very passionately about strict barefoot shoes.
4. Merrell – Best Outdoor Option
In my opinion Merrell is a “rough and tough” brand. I think it’s a great choice for kids who spend a ton of time outside or who are typically really rough on their shoes.
Merrell is primarily known as a brand that produces high-performance outdoor footwear, apparel, and accessories for adults.
They are a well-established brand in the outdoor industry, and their products are designed to provide comfort and support for various outdoor activities like hiking, running, and camping.
They have outdoor shoes for kids who spend ample time in the woods or hiking. I would not call them barefoot shoes as they are not thin and flexible and don’t have a zero drop platform.
However, they are sturdy and offer great traction for outdoor adventures.
5. See Kai Run – Barefoot Budget Pick
See Kai Run is a brand that encourages a flexible sole for movement and growth and wiggle room in the toes to build strength.
Every single style is approved by the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association). Because they are soft and flexible, they are really great for wide or fat feet.
They also offer adaptive styles which is amazing to see.
Their shoes are priced around $50 per pair. They have styles that range from first walkers to slip ons to straps to boots.
They also offer “basics” at a lower price point – around $35. This makes them a great mid-range price option. See Kai Run also has a variety of fun colors and patterns to pick from.
There are even some See Kai Run options at Target for around $30.
My take: I liked See Kai Run when my kids were younger. They are really lightweight which I like but not as breathable as Plae. As my kids got older, I wanted something a little sturdier for outdoor play but we still liked them for under age 2!
Shop See Kai Run at Amazon | Shop See Kai Run at Target
6. Stride Rite – Budget Pick
Stride Rite is a really popular brand. My oldest son wore these for months before I discovered Ten Little!
They offer a good amount of styles at a really low price point – typically around $20.
My main qualm with Stride Rite was how quickly they wore out.
We had to purcahse multiple pairs for my son before he even outgrew one size. The quality is just not as high as other brands on this list.
However, they are readily available to be bought at places like Target and Walmart which makes them an attractive option.
The price point also makes them more reasonable for many families.
The main benefit of these is that they are available at your typical shoe store.
My take: Stride Rite is a decent and affordable brand that you can find easily. However, in our experience with them, they just didn’t hold up to months and months of wear.
Whenever my son moved to a new size we had to buy 2-3 pairs that we could rotate through every week to keep them in decent condition. They also quickly took on a smell from sweaty feet.
Shop Stride Rite on Amazon | Shop Stride Rite at Target
7. KEEN – Best For Outdoor Sandals
KEEN has a wide variety of styles for toddlers, kids, pre-teens, and adult size too.
They are unique in that their shoes have a protective toe bumper which is great for active kids who do a lot of running around outdoors.
I love the colors and prints they offer too! They have fun tie-dye prints and bright colors that really bring life to their shoes.
The prices range from around $50-$100 per pair depending on the style and size. They also have a good selection of sandals which are perfect for spring and summer!
I would consider KEEN to be more of an outdoor shoe than a barefoot shoe. It is good for outdoor activities like hiking and camping, but does not offer the same thin sole and flexibility of a strictly barefoot shoe.
8. Totes Rain Boots
While we adore our Ten Little Rain Boots, Totes Rain Boots are great for the rainy days!
The boots are waterproof and offer a good amount of traction for slippery surfaces. They come in multiple fun colors, like blue, pink, yellow, and purple.
The best part is that they are really affordable – usually around $20-$30 per pair. I also love that they are easy to take on and off for toddlers.
Overall, Totes Rain Boots are a great choice for rainy days or outdoor activities! They offer protection from the elements at an affordable price point.
5 Tips To Make Sure You Buy The Best Shoes For Your Kid
1. Look for shoes that have a flexible sole, so your kid can move and walk naturally.
This is important for their development. Barefoot style shoes are important for the proper development of the foot and leg muscles.
2. Make sure the shoe has enough room in the toe box to allow toes to spread out as they learn how to walk.
This is important because it helps your kid build strong muscles in their feet and toes.
3. Look for shoes that are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
This will ensure that the shoes you buy are made with quality materials and provide good support for your child’s foot.
4. Check the heel counter of the shoe for support and stability.
This will help stabilize your child’s foot and ankle as they learn to walk.
5. Always measure your child’s feet before buying shoes.
It is important to always get the right size so that your kid can be comfortable in their shoes. If you buy the wrong size, it can lead to blisters or a shoe that
5. Pay attention to the price point and see if it fits your budget. Quality doesn’t always equal expensive!
There are many good quality shoes at a much lower price point than some of the more expensive brands. Find the best shoe that fits your budget and your kid’s needs!
These tips will help you make sure you buy the right shoes for your kid. With these tips in mind, you can be sure to get the best kids shoes for
Following these tips will help ensure that you purchase the best shoe for your kid. Remember, the right fit is key when it comes to protecting their feet.
How often do you need to replace kids shoes?
Kids shoes should be replaced once they start to show signs of wear and tear.
Signs of wear and tear can include worn-down soles, stretched or torn material, and loose stitching.
Kids’ feet grow quickly so it is important to keep an eye on how their shoes fit too.
Generally speaking, you should replace kids’ shoes every 4-6 months. But I personally start checking the fit every 2 months.
My kids, and I suspect other young children as well, won’t necessarily realize their shoes are getting too small.
If they start tripping often, falling, or have an unusual gait, check the fit of their shoes.
I would expect a child to go through 2-4 pairs of shoes in a school year.
However, it is best to check the shoes regularly and replace them as needed. It is better to get new shoes a bit early than risk having your child’s feet become damaged from ill-fitting shoes!
When shopping for kids’ shoes, make sure you find quality brands that are designed for the active lifestyle of your child.
By following these tips, you can make sure that you get the best kids shoes for your child. Quality shoes not only protect their feet but also provide comfort throughout their day!
In Summary: Best Kids Shoes Brands
So there you have it! Those are some of my favorite brands for kids shoes. I hope this helps you in your search for the perfect shoe for your little one! The best kids shoes brands support proper foot development and most important, actually fit your child. Happy shopping!
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