When there are sunny afternoons on the agenda, there’s nothing better than walking to the nearest park or beach or setting up your own fun in the garden. A pair of summer shoes or sandals will help keep your little ones’ feet comfortable, protected and looking good whether they’re dipping in and out of the paddling pool or generally running amok in the sun.
Summer shoes usually offer more coverage on your child’s feet than something like a pair of flip flops or slides, and can be great for taking walks in the park. Summer sandals usually have straps and buckles and many are suitable for getting wet or walking through sand as they can be easily cleaned by running them under a tap. We’ve picked out the best summer shoes for kids – from flip-flops and jelly shoes to sandals and slip-ons to suit all kinds of different summer scenarios.
Best summer shoes and sandals at a glance
- Best for easy fastening: Kidly Jelly Sandal, £12
- Best for performance: Keen Footwear Newport Shoe, £59.99
- Best for stylish design: Bobux Cross Jump Sandal, £47
- Best budget buy: Next Eva Sandals, from £8
- Best for a barefoot feel: Vivo Bare Foot Primus Knit II Toddlers, £60
- Best slingback shoe: Classic Crocs Toddlers, £25
- Best for the beach: Hot Tuna Infants Aqua Water Shoes, £5
- Best for sparkle: Igor Jelly Star Sandals, £21.99
- Best for longevity: Salt-Water Shark Sandals, £44
- Best for sustainability: Clarks Surfing Tide Sandals, £24
- Best for babies: Jojo Maman Bebe Anti-Slip Swim Shoes, £14.95
What to consider when buying summer shoes and sandals for kids
Fit and comfort – You want maximum comfort for your child when picking a summer shoe and sandal. Some of the sandals in our list have soft insoles that make them comfortable for your child to wear when running, playing and walking around.
Material – You can find summer shoes and sandals in different materials ranging from leather to synthetics, rubber and even Croslite, a resin-based material that’s recyclable. Some materials might be softer and gentler on your child’s feet and some may be more lightweight. Each material impacts the durability of the shoe. Leather lasts a long time but might not be suitable in water whereas rubber, Croslite and other synthetic material are durable and typically waterproof. Some sandals also have quick-drying material which is great when they become wet.
Purpose – Some summer shoes and sandals are versatile and can offer more than one thing, but some are made solely for the purpose of getting wet, wearing in water and for swimming with. Alternatively, some are made for climbing and walking only. You can find summer shoes that do either or both in our list below.
Fastening – Depending on what you want, these summer shoes and sandals come with various fastenings. If your child wants to fasten their own shoe then its best to get something that they can easily do themselves and get a sense of accomplishment from. Velcro straps are great for this as they can easily pull open the rip-tape and fasten the shoe independently. A buckle is good as usually it can be adjusted so you can expand or tighten them as your child grows. We have a summer shoe with a slingback fastening that’s also very easy for children to put on and off.
Care – Depending on the fabric used on the shoe or sandal, most times you are fine to just wipe your footwear with a damp cloth as and when it gets dirty. For leather fabric, you’re better off scrubbing tough stains with a soft bristle brush or even using a leather cleanser. Jelly sandals require a bit more upkeep and should be rinsed under tap water after being used in a chlorinated pool or salt water.
Here’s our pick of the best baby sandals and summer shoes…
1. Kidly Jelly Sandal, £12
– Best for easy fastening
Size: UK 4.5 to 11 | Material: Phthalate and BPA-free PVC | Colours: Blush pink, Apple, Tan, Thistle, Lagoon, Chalk, Coral, Honey | Care: Rinse in tap water after wearing in pools or salt water
Keep your child’s feet protected on rocks and sand with these jelly sandals by Kidly – perfect for curious little feet. They come in 7 different gorgeous, fun pastel colours including blush pink, apple, tan, thistle, lagoon, chalk, coral and (pictured above) honey. The studded sole and closed toe are perfect for taking walks or playing in your local park and walking over rocks at the beach. They come with an easy-to-use Velcro strap with an adjustable yet staged buckle.
Parent tester Sammy said, “We love the Kidly jelly shoes – both our boys have had them the last two years and they’re brilliant. they have a velcro strap for easy fastening, a padded insole which makes them super comfy and they come in lots of lovely colours! I’ll be buying them every year!”
They’re also made with a quick-drying material, so they’re also great choice if your little one will be making good use of a garden paddling pool or sprinkler this summer. To keep them lasting long, rinse them off in tap water after wearing in pools with chlorine or salt water.
Pros: Quick-drying material, easy fastening, padded insole, great colour options, good size range
Cons: Not all-rounded shoe
Available from: Kidly
2. Keen Footwear Newport Shoe, £59.99
– Best for performance
Size: 7-13, 1-5 | Material: Leather and performance mesh upper | Colours: Black/Original Tie Dye, Grey/Very Berry, Bison/Black | Care: Soft bristle brush on leather parts or hand towel to remove loose dirt and debris | Award: Bronze – Children’s shoe range, MadeForMums Awards 2022
These Keen Footwear shoes will keep your child’s feet secure and protected as they play around. They are made from highly durable leather which is great for longevity, and does something to justify the higher price tag of £59.99: this may be an investment worth making as you won’t need to buy another pair of walking shoes for a while. Designed with performance in mind, these shoes will take on any challenge. There’s a brilliant rubber toe bumper to protect your child’s feet on their adventures and an easy-on bungee opening to make them easy to slip on and off.
Parent tester Nikita remarked, “My son loved these shoes from the moment he put them on! They were super comfy, lightweight, and very hardwearing. He never complained about being uncomfortable and now asks to wear them whenever we go out for walks! The quality is of these shoes is great, my son has worn them whilst climbing, riding his balance bike, and splashing in muddy puddles.”
Pros: Great all-round shoe, durable, good longevity, high performing shoe, good colour options, great size range
Cons: Might be tricky to wear independently for some kids, not as breathable when it’s hot
3. Bobux Cross Jump Sandal, £47
– Best for a stylish design
Size: 19 to 26 | Material: Quickdry leather, Foil laminated suede, Leather lining | Colours: Dusk pearl and rose gold, Navy, White, Pink | Care: Polish every two weeks | Award: Silver – Children’s shoe range, MadeForMums Awards 2022
Made with foil-laminated suede, this Bobux sandal is beautifully eye-catching and come in other simple yet stylish colour options. They’re also high quality and durable too, as parent tester Bryony attested, praising their “great quality, comfort and durability!” Though this is another more expensive option the price is justified with the quality and comfort it offers to little children wearing them.
Another thing that Bobux is known for is getting the perfect size footwear for your kids, and you can measure your child’s foot accurately by following the simple guide on their website.
The sandals are straightforward to wear and come with a single hook-and-loop strap with a cute ‘B’ for Bobux detail on it. The Bobux sandal is also made with a quick-drying material, so they’re also great choice if your little one will be wearing them on the beach this summer. Although, you might want to avoid fully immersing these sandals into water to keep the suede fabric looking neat.
Pros: Quick-drying material, stylish design, quality material, accurate feet sizing
Cons: Slightly expensive, not all-rounder shoe
Available from: Bobux
4. Next Eva Sandals, from £8
– Best budget buy
Size: UK 4 to 12 | Colours: Minerals, Tan brown, Blue, Black | Care: Wipe clean
These sandals from Next come at a great price, starting from only £8. They’re created from a really lightweight EVA foam material, offering comfort and convenience for any child who’s always on the go. No need to worry if your little one will be making good use of a garden paddling pool or walks on the beach this summer as they’re easy to maintain with a quick wipe clean.
With a straightforward Velcro straps around the back of the heel, your toddler will gain a sense of independence being able to fasten these sandals all by themselves. The buckle detailing can also be adjusted making them a great option if your little one has slightly wider or narrower feet.
Pros: Affordable, easy to wear, adjustable buckle for wide or narrow feet, good colour options
Cons: Not an all-rounder shoe
Available from: Next
5. Vivo Bare Foot Primus Knit II Toddlers, from £60
– Best for a barefoot feel
Size: UK 4 to 7 | Material: Wool and leather | Colours: Zinc, Midnight
Made with natural materials such as wool and leather from free-roaming cattle herds in Thailand, the Vivo Bare Foot shoe justifies its luxury pricing with the high quality it produces with their shoes. Vivo Bare are so confident in the quality of their shoes that they offer to their customers a 100-day trial: any time during this period you can return your shoes if you aren’t happy with them. The brand’s aim is to give support to your child’s feet whilst also offering a barefoot feeling. Your child should feel comfortable rather than being weighed down by their footwear.
This summer shoe includes temperature control technology so you can be sure feet will stay cool even though they’re closed-toe, and they’re available in kids UK sizes 4 to 7. The velcro straps included make it super simple for little ones to put the shoes on and off again.
Pros: Quality material, comfortable barefoot feeling, temperature control, 100-day trial for customers
Available from: Vivo Bare Foot
6. Classic Crocs Toddlers, £25
– Best slingback shoe
Size: UK 4 to 10 (Age 1-5 years) | Material: Croslite | Colours: Celery, Papaya, Lemon, Orange zing, Lavender, Taffy pink, Pure water, Digital violet, Ocean, White, Black and more | Care: Easy wipe clean
If you’re after a sturdy and long-lasting summer shoe, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Crocs. A popular choice in our Top Testers Facebook group, they’re suitable for stomping round the garden, and if they are soaked in a paddling pool they have been specially designed to perform in water too. The closed-toe design offers added protection and they don’t come with any tricky fastenings, simply secure them on with the slingback or push it forward to make them slip-ons. Parent tester Sam agreed, “Crocs are super easy for slipping on after karate and swimming!”
There are lots of cool colours for you to choose for your child, with names like celery, lemon, papaya, lavender, taffy pink and lots more. You can also customise your child’s Crocs with fun charms including letters to spell their name, familiar cartoon characters and fun shapes. Parent tester Anita commented, “Crocs are the best. My kids also love the colours and various accessories that you can pin to them. I love that that they are are super easy to keep clean and work with both wet and dry play. Great for the beach and sandy wet toes.”
Pros: Easy to wear with slingback design, good colour options, easy to clean
Cons: Can be chunky on the feet
Available from: Crocs
7. Hot Tuna Infants Aqua Water Shoes, £5
– Best for the beach
Size: UK 3 to 9 | Material: Synthetic materials | Colours: Navy/royal, Pink/black, Hot pink/white, Multi | Care: Wipe clean
With their lightweight composition and flexible soles these Hot Tuna swim shoes are a great option for packing in your child’s suitcase to take on holiday. From sizes 3 to 9, you can find a pair for your child to wear when they’re playing on the beach with their grown-up, and they’ll help protect from dangers like weever fish or sea urchins when you child explored the water.
They come in a range of colours including pink and white and all with a fish detailing on the front. Parent tester Carmen praised, “For in and around the pool/beach whether it’s home or abroad we use these swim shoes from Sports Direct as they have a flexible, rubber sole so they protect her feet whilst walking round.”
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, good colour options, flexible rubber sole
Cons: Only useful for the beach, not as breathable as sandals
Available from: Sports Direct
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8. Igor Jelly Star Sandals, £21.99
– Best for sparkle
Size: UK4 to 10 | Material: Synthetic | Colours: Celeste sky blue, Rosa, Clear glitter, Marino blue | Care: Wipe clean
Nothing says summer like a pair jelly shoes and this glittery pair should be enough to get even the fussiest of little ones excited. The rubber won’t absorb any water so they won’t need wringing and drying out like other wet-shoes. These lightweight sandals come with a flexible rubber sole and upper material designed from a water-friendly material.
Simply slip on and off with the velcro straps, these make a great option for little ones becoming independent and wanting to wear their shoes by themselves. Parent tester Melissa praised the “padded innersole and Velcro or buckle straps depending on style. My little girl lived in them last summer.”
Pros: Padded insole, easy to wear, lovely glitter design, good colour options
Cons: Material might be uncomfortable for some kids
Available from: Office
9. Salt-Water Shark Sandals, £44
– Best for longevity
Size: UK 4 to 11 | Material: Leather and rubber | Colours: Navy, Tan, Olive | Care: Machine washable on cold wash
Inspired by fisherman’s sandals, these woven Salt-Water sandals are high quality and versatile. They can be worn on dry land and by the sea. They are made from leather material with a rubber sole, and feature the common adjustable buckle fastening. Your little one’s toes are protected with the closed-toe design which means less worry if your child is scrambling over rocks by the beach.
Although not particularly recommended for children with wide feet, these sandals are great for your child if they have narrow or shorter feet and even then, it’s best to size up. Despite the luxury price tag, parent tester Laura praised, “they are the comfiest sandals I’ve ever worn and last so well! We’ve bought second hand pairs for my daughter and as they are so well made they are great for a summer before they outgrow them and we can sell them on again.”
The water-friendly sandals can also be tossed into the washing machine when dirty, simply put on cold wash and they will be good as new. Parent tester Stacey commented, “We live at the beach so the fact they can be worn in the water really works for us. I also have a pair so chasing them in and out of the sea isn’t an issue. I love how they look too.”
Pros: Machine washable, leather material lasts long, water-friendly
Cons: Slightly expensive, not recommended for children with wide feet
Available from: Kidly
10. Clarks Surfing Tide Sandals, £24
– Best for sustainability
Size: UK 4 to 12 1/2 | Material: Recycled and sustainable material | Colours: Navy, Pink, Red, Green | Care: Machine wash
Previously called Clarks Doodles, these Surfing Tide sandals are another popular choice in our Top Testers Club. Great for everyday use, these sandals come in a good range of sizes starting from UK 4 right up to 12 1/2. You even have the option to select wide fit on the website if your child has wider feet.
Parent tester Kayleigh praised, “We love Clarks Doodles! We have had the same pair of boys Doodles in our house for 5 years now and they’ve gone through all three of our boys! We’ve just bought a couple of pairs for two of our girls too. In comparison to normal Clarks prices, they don’t break the bank either, which is always a plus! They don’t seem to be called Doodles anymore, but Surfing Tide are identical and still essentially the same shoe from what I can see!”
The sandals have been made with recycled content in the lining and sustainable sugarcane on the sole: though they may not be completely sustainable they’re a great move in the right direction. Designed with neoprene these sandals are also waterproof and can be taken to the beach or to the pool. Parent tester AnnMarie commented, “My boy wears them in the sea and by the time we are ready to head home they are dry. Just chuck them in the washing machine when I get home to remove the salt.”
Pros: Sustainable materials, good size range, wide fit option for wider feet, quick-drying material, waterproof
Cons: Not entirely sustainable material
Available from: Clarks
11. Jojo Maman Bebe Anti-Slip Swim Shoes, £14.95
– Best for babies
Size: Infant, Extra small, Small, Medium | Material: 91% Polyamide, 9% Elastane, Sole: 87% PVC, 13% cotton | Colours: Jungle, Shark | Care: After each use hand wash with warm water and soap
Need swimming shoes for your baby who can’t quite walk yet? These are a great option for younger children who don’t walk much but are confident at standing and want to independently splash water in the pool or by the sea (supervised with their grown-up.) Parent tester Abby commented, “My daughter uses the Jojo Maman Bébé Anti Slip Swim Shoes. They have lasted years and she absolutely loves them. They are great for garden play in the summer and the beach but not for walking far.”
The shoes are light, flexible and compact and can be stuffed into your summer holiday suitcase without any concerns of additional weight or scuffing. Providing bare-foot feeling and breathability, they feature the cutest, colourful shark detail and have anti-slip sole so that you can worry less about your child slipping and falling whilst having lots of water fun. They also protect your little one’s feet on hot sand and from infection that can be picked up on the ground.
They come in 4 different standard sizes which works as they’re so easy to wear and have a lot of give. Simply stretch the opening and slide the swim shoes onto your child’s feet and you’re good to go.
Pros: Infant sizes available, long lasting, lightweight, easy to wear, affordable
Cons: Limited size range
Available from: Jojo Maman Bebe
How we tested and chose these products
When testing children’s summer shoes and sandals we spoke to parents to look at fit, comfort, material used, purpose, fastenings and care.
Our Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Janet is a Digital Journalist for MadeForMums. Over the years, she has developed a keen eye and passion for creating online media content. She writes and creates visual content sharing her journey of motherhood, fashion and beauty looks and encouragement for new mums via her Instagram page. During her time as a Content Creator/ Influencer she has worked on several brand partnerships with Garnier, Superdrug, Next, iCandy and more. She is a wife and mother to a boy and girl both under 4.