Here’s the deal with toddler sneakers: They’re going to grow out of them five minutes after you buy them. So while you’d like them to be comfortable on little feet and well made to stand up to the demands of the rough-and-tumble toddler lifestyle (and toddler activities like riding their tricycle, or playing in the sandbox) you know they’re also going to end up covered in mud (and probably also body fluids). So you don’t want to break the bank, which is why we’ve also included some toddler shoes on sale.
On the other hand… they’re only going to be toddlers once! How cute are they right now? And how much do you love styling them to the nines for those precious family pics? Because we know you’ll want the best of the best and not just what’s on sale (all that’s always nice too), you’ve got to know what to look for when it comes to toddler sneakers. From the type of insole to the outside materials — it all matters, Mama.
What to look for in toddler sneakers
Dr. Ashley Lee of the Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists gave her insight on the subject of toddler sneakers. As the previous Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Northwest Community Hospital and current Mama of two boys, she says that flexibility and support are a top priority.
“The ideal toddler shoe should have a flexible insole with a slip-resistant sole, but the material around the heel cup should be more supportive. You should be able to flex the sole easily at the toes,” Dr. Lee says. “The shoe should be made of materials like canvas, leather or cloth (with or without mesh), not rubber or plastic, to allow for breathability.”
In terms of fit, Lee suggests broad toe boxes and velcro closures. “The toe box should be broad, giving the toes room to move, which helps to build strength in the muscles and tendons in the foot,” Dr. Lee added. “The closures should be secure. Laces untie easily, so a strong velcro closure or a lace/velcro combination is often preferred.”
Fortunately, we have options that fit the bill. These are among the best toddler sneakers you can buy online right now, in a range of prices to suit your budget… and a range of looks so you can nail your mini’s #OOTD.
Podiatrist Recommended Shoes for Toddlers
“See Kai Run was popular for my boys. Not only are they stylish, but they have a wide opening for cubby little insteps with very secure velcro closures,” said Dr. Lee. “See Kai Run shoes are also flexible, yet stable with a broad toe box.”
“Saucony Kids and New Balance Kids have great gym shoes options for when your toddler is running more. They both have more room in the toe box than most toddler gym shoes and are supportive, durable and flexible,” Dr. Lee added.
Best Toddler Sneakers
These Converse-style sneakers give you a huge variety of patterns and colors, making it fun for your LO to choose how they want to accessorize their feet. Made with breathable canvas, you won’t have to worry about your kid’s feet getting sweaty, and the velcro feature makes taking on and off super seamless.
Anything mini-sized is adorable, especially when it comes to Vans. These Checkerboard Slip-Ons remind us of our high school days (anyone else listened to Ska?) and now we’re reliving our youth through our toddlers. We love that they’re so colorful (although you can get just about any style Vans mini-sized on their site), and that they’re made with the same, durable canvas and elastic sides that will withstand months and months of playtime. The only downside is that they’ll only be able to wear them for so long before they grow out of ’em.
With shoes this cute and under 30 bucks, you’ve got to get a few different pairs. This sneaker from Weestep comes in sky blue, yellow, pink, and even an adorable lemon-pattern print. It also has an invisible elastic band under the tongue, so the laces are just for decoration 😉
Best Toddler Black Sneakers
This adorable toddler running shoe is lightweight, comfy, and easy to throw on. With over 6,000 reviews on Amazon, parents are raving about this toddler sneaker from DADWEN. “SO much cuter in person!” said one mama. “I needed a comfortable light weight affordable shoe for my 3 year old to wear to school. I didn’t expect to like them this much! Excellent material, very light weight and they look amazing. My teenager wants a pair lol. Buy them.”
How do we love a Converse All-Star high-top? Let us count the ways. This timeless classic in all black is cool, comfortable, unisex, and will never go out of style. Plus, it’s a little sartorial nod to vice president Kamala Harris’ style for the modern era of ladies. getting it. DONE. The canvas lace-ups are durable, with heavy-duty rubber soles that stand up to wear.
Best Toddler White Sneakers
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Classic white Adidas with black stripes are always in style. This unisex toddler version has velcro straps so it’s easy to slip them on and off wriggly little feet. This toddler version comes in synthetic leather upper (and you definitely won’t miss the durability of leather for a shoe they’ll only fit into for a few months).
Puma’s classic sneaker is cool, versatile, and unisex in black (and it doesn’t hurt that it hides the aftermath of Peppa Pig-inspired muddy puddle jumping). The leather shoe has a rubber sole, and velcro straps that make for easy on-off so toddlers can start learning to dress themselves without all the pressure of laces.
Slip-on sneakers mean they can be outside in no time! The dainty doodles on this pair of kicks are nothing short of adorable, but they’re still simple enough to go with any outfit. If you love the style but aren’t crazy about the print (as if!), there are 6 other options to choose from, including shiny silver and buffalo check.
Best Toddler Boy Sneakers
What parent doesn’t love a slip-on sneaker? They’re so easy to slide on and off, even littler kids can do it themselves without help. These boys’ slip-ons in vegan leather or denim are super comfortable and come in six versatile colors: think navys, tans, browns, and blues. The bright white outsoles lend a smart, preppy look.
This shoe is ultra lightweight and breathable thanks to a mesh construction. A leather overlay keeps feet stable and shoes durable. Pick a pair from among nearly 30 color options — from versatile black to standout neon color combos. Nearly 6,000 reviewers give these a perfect five-star rating.
Dinos on your feet makes your day a little more fun, amiright? These slip-on sneakers feature colorful dinosaurs over a cool gray background. So really, these babies can go with any outfit. Parents are raving about how lightweight and comfortable they are. One fellow mama said, “These Toddler sneaker are fantastic! so easy to put on and take off and he can wear them all day with no complaints. He has had a few different brands of shoes and sneaker in the past and after awhile he has started to whine and point at his feet letting us know they hurt or are uncomfortable. He has never done that with these once…they are really lightweight which was great when he just started learning to walk. I definitely recommend these shoes for your toddler!”
Best Toddler Girl Sneakers
These adorable canvas sneakers come in a range of patterns that your little one will love. Frim this cool green tie-dye (perfect for spring!) to blue camouflage, pink plaid, and purple rainbows. One reviewer said, “I love these shoes. Got them for my son to play in. I wish i had an adult pair. The inside is so squishy and the canvas is thin and breathable.”
These playful sneakers embrace everything fun and extra about being a kid: They light up! They sparkle! They’re emblazoned with rainbows and unicorns! This shoe is 100 percent leather, with a leather sole. There’s even a on-off button for those lights.
Well over 3,000 reviewers give this New Balance sneaker a nearly perfect rating of close to five stars. It’s the No. 1 top seller in the girls’ sneakers category on Amazon. Leather and mesh comprise the upper, for a combo of breathability and durability. The midsole offers plenty of cushioning and compression resistance, so kids’ feet will stay comfortable throughout their day’s nonstop activities. These come in close to 30 colors.
Best Toddler Sneakers on Sale
These high-tops are cute unisex sneakers at a wallet-friendly Carter’s price point. The synthetic shoes have triple velcro straps that makes dressing simple so kids can help put on their own shoes — and you can get out the door quick (that is to say, as quick as getting out of the house with a toddler can actually ever be).
If your little one is already a huge Spider-Man fan, then get them these awesome Spider-Man slip-ons. They’re easy to take on and off, and made of 93% cotton and 7% polyester, they feel comfortable yet are sturdy enough for daily wear. The rubber gripper sole ensure your kiddo won’t easily slip and fall, and the elasticized panels toward the top make them easy to put on (even if you still have to do it for them).
(We’ll be adding more to this list as we find the best shoes on sale, so keep this bookmarked!)