11 of the best summer shoes and sandals for kids, toddlers and babies
From kids’ flip-flops to sandals that dry quickly and have UV protection, we’ve rounded up some of the best summer shoes
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. For more hot weather essentials, take a look at the best pram fans.
Best summer shoes and sandals at a glance
- Best for easy fastening: Kidly Jelly Sandal, £14
- Best for performance: Keen Footwear Newport Shoe, from £35
- Best for stylish design: Bobux Cross Jump Sandal, £56
- Best budget buy: Next Eva Sandals, from £9
- Best for a barefoot feel: Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom, from £55
- Best slingback shoe: Classic Crocs Toddlers, £29.99
- Best for the beach: Hot Tuna Infants Aqua Water Shoes, £6
- Best for bright colours: FitFlop IQUSHION KIDS Toddler Ergonomic Back-Strap Sandals, £30
- Best for longevity: Salt-Water Shark Sandals, £46.50
- Best for sustainability: Clarks Surfing Tide Sandals, £24
- Best for design options: Slipfree Shoes, from £15.95
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, £14
– 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 Emma, who tested these with her daughter Mariella (pictured), said, "My daughter couldn’t wait to wear these Kidly sandals. They’re made of a soft material and the muted colour is beautiful. The Velcro strap was a pleasant surprise — my daughter can easily put them on herself but they look like a traditional sandal. There’s also a padded insole so they’re super comfortable."
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 H2 Sandal, from £35
– Best for performance
Size: 4-7, 7-12, 13-6 | Material: Rubber outsole with washable polyester webbing | Colours: Choice of 11 colours for toddlers, 18 colours for 'little kids' and 19 colours for 'big kids' | Care: Machine washable, select cold water and a gentle cycle and then air dry | Award: Gold – Children's shoe range, MadeForMums Awards 2023
These Keen Footwear sandals will keep your child's feet secure and protected as they play around and head outdoors on adventures. There's plenty of designs to choose from to suit a variety of tastes and they're a strong and durable shoe, providing a great balance between practicality and style. They don't come cheap, but their durability and longevity really makes these sandals stand out.
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 and velcro strap to make them easy to slip on and off. The EVA insoles inside provide arch support and will keep your child's feet protected and comfortable. They're also super easy to wash, they dry really quickly and feature an Eco Anti-Odor treatment to keep them smelling fresh.
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Parent tester Kayleigh, who tested these with her 6-year-old son Rex (pictured) remarked, "My son is 6 years old and tested these shoes daily. He has loved wearing them and they have quickly become his favourite shoes due to comfort, grip and durability. These are going to be perfect to have during warmer weather, for beach days and adventures."
Pros: Durable, good longevity, high performing shoe, good colour options, great size range, machine washable
Cons: Slightly expensive, not an all-round shoe
3. Bobux Cross Jump Sandal, £56
– 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 £9
– 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. Vivobarefoot Ultra Bloom, from £55
– Best for a barefoot feel
Size: UK Infant 8 to Adult 5 | Material: Bloom foam | Colours: Obsidian/White, Blue Aqua
Your child will have plenty of fun summer adventures either on land or sea in the Vivobarefoot Ultra Blooms. They provide great support and grip when walking and then can be worn comfortably in the pool or in the sea. They're fast drying as well so your child can go seamlessly in and out of the water without too much fuss.
We also love the eco-credentials of these shoes, they're made from algae-based EVA 'BLOOM' foam that takes harmful algae blooms out of waterways which reverses the effects of water pollution. It's this material that gives them their bendy and ultra-lightweight feel, too. The flexibility of the shoes helps to build foot strength and enables natural movement, providing a barefoot feel.
MFM Group Editor Gemma Cartwright, who tested these with her 3-year-old son Myles, said "Although expensive, I know my son will barely be out of these over the summer. I love that they work in and out of the water — and the little charms for crocs for in the holes! I have a pair of the adult shoes and they’re so brilliant for correct foot position and comfort when walking, so to me it makes sense to look for that as my son’s feet are growing.”
Pros: Quality material, comfortable barefoot feeling, 100-day trial for customers
6. Classic Crocs Toddlers, £29.99
– 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 Devaki who tested these with her 18-month-old daughter Savya-Saachi (pictured) agreed, "the strap at the back ensures a secure and snug fit on my child's feet. The shoes are made of a lightweight and flexible material that allows my child's feet to breathe and move freely. The cushioned footbed provides ample support, making them comfortable for extended wear."
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. Parent tester Devaki loved the vibrant purple colour she tested with her daughter: "The colour adds a pop of fun and playfulness to any outfit. The shoes feature a simple yet stylish design that suits my little one's everyday adventures perfectly." 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, £6
– 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
8. FitFlop IQUSHION KIDS Junior Ergonomic Back-Strap Sandals, £30
– Best for bright colours
Size: UK 6 to 10 | Material: EVA | Colours: Black, Neon Orange, Electric Yellow, Pink Jam, Rocket Blue | Care: Wipe clean
These bright sandals have been specifically engineered so that your toddler's feet move and develop naturally but are still super comfortable. Made from a soft and flexible air-foam that bends with your toddler's feet, it helps them to 'feel' the ground and assists their balance. The flexible rubber straps also help your child to put them on and off by themselves and the solid back strap provides a secure and comfy fit.
MFM Head of Consumer Content Christy, who tested these with her 2-year-old son Bran (pictured), said "he loved the vibrant colour immediately, and was thrilled to be able to put them on by himself thanks to the simple strap design. They have a good, grippy sole, and feel very durable without being inflexible. I loved how easy they were to rinse off after an afternoon playing with sand and water at his grandma’s house."
Pros: Durable, easy to clean, good colour options, waterproof
Cons: Not an all-rounder shoe
9. Salt-Water Shark Sandals, £46.50
– 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. Parent tester Kayleigh, who tested these with her 5-year-old son Rory (pictured), said "they have comfy soft soles and offer a supportive fit, I never felt like they were too loose but they still have a little room to grow. Rory said they were the most comfortable sandals ever and he has worn them for hours at a time."
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
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. Slipfree Shoes, from £15.95
– Best for design options
Size: Younger children's UK Infant 2 - Adult 3 and Older children's UK adult 3 - 5.5 | Material: Synthetic | Colours: Choice of 14 designs in Younger Children's shoes and choice of 14 in Older Children's | Care: Handwash in warm water with mild soap and air dry inside out after each use
These clever shoes have high-tech non-slip soles that provide a barefoot feel whilst also protecting little feet on hot sands and floors and also prevent feet getting infections such as verrucas. Their elasticated stretchy fit means that it's easy for your toddler or child to take them on and off themselves. Although they are extremely lightweight, they also have a reinforced front so small toes are protected.
They're designed to keep our sand and pebbles and you can wear them on the beach or even in the pool as their light and flexible design makes them easy to swim in. We also love the range of designs that they come in, with options such as Sharks, Dino, Batman and Glitter as well as pastel colours such as pink and pale blue. It is recommended that they are handwashed after every use, but the lightweight, breathable fabric air dries quickly.
MFM Head of Consumer Content Christy, who tested these with her 8 and 9 year old daughters (pictured) said "We love these! I wish we’d discovered them sooner. They are very flexible and comfortable, and the designs are gorgeous. As well as our new holiday must-have, we also took them to the local pool – my daughter found them just as comfy as bare feet when swimming, and they made the changing room floor less slippy."
Pros: Good size range, quick-drying material, water friendly, good design options, lightweight
Cons: Need to be washed after each use
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.
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