The Best Water Shoes for Toddlers Who Love to Splash Around

Crocs will keep your tot’s toes protected and comfortable; plus, they float!

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If there is one thing little kids love in hot weather, it’s playing in the water, whether that means running through the sprinkler, having a squirt-gun or water-balloon fight, wading in a shallow creek, or splashing in their water table. There are times when you can let them do all that barefoot, but other times when you'll want a pair of water shoes for your toddler to protect their tender soles.

Reviewed & Approved

For a lightweight, colorful, water-resistant shoe that kids can wear in and out of the water, the Crocs Classic Clogs are our favorites. We also like the protection and style of the Nike Aquasock 360.

“Generally, the recommendation is to allow feet to develop and minimize shoes when children are in a protective environment," podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, tells Verywell Family. However, with water often comes rough rocks, hot pavement, or sticky mud, so going barefoot while playing in the water isn’t always an option. In this case, Dr. Mendeszoon, a physician spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, says, “The recommendation is to use water shoes.” 

The best water shoes will be made of quality materials and have a thoughtful design to fit well and stay comfortable through all kinds of wet and dry activities. With Dr. Mendeszoon's guidance in mind, we looked at the comfort, durability, and functionality of the many sandals, clogs, water socks, and more available for little kids.

Here are the very best water shoes for toddlers right now.

Best Overall: Crocs Kids Classic Clog

4.9
Crocs Child Classic Clog

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight design

  • Perforated upper for breathability

  • Heel strap helps them stay in place

Cons
  • Sizing for kids can be difficult to figure out

Who else recommends it? BestReviews also picked the Crocs Kids Classic Clog.

What do buyers say? 90% of 105,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

Crocs are widely known and loved, partially because of their unique look but mostly because they are such great shoes for any time, and that's why they're our top pick for water play. The shoes are made from a soft, durable, and lightweight molded foam that is water-resistant and floats.

The clogs also feature a pivoting heel strap that helps keep them in place during play. Kids will love the numerous color options to choose from, plus the perforated holes along the top of the shoe can be decorated with charms for personalization. We think that these shoes truly are worth the hype. 

Size range: 4T–4Y | Material: Closed-cell resin

Best for Water Parks: UBFEN Water Shoes for Kids

UBFEN Water Shoes for Kids

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Quick-dry upper

  • Hard soles

  • Pull-tab heel

Cons
  • No sizes under 8T available

For older toddlers who are ready to venture into water parks, we really like these form-fitting water shoes. The hard soles and a breathable, quick-dry upper ensure that they won’t feel heavy or restrictive when they’re swimming. Thanks to the hook-and-loop strap across the top, they’ll definitely stay put on water slides, in wave pools, and lounging along a lazy river. 

These shoes are also super flexible, so they’re great for running (in a safe place, not by a pool, of course). Kids will enjoy the many fun colors to choose from, while adults will appreciate the pull tab on the heel that makes them a little easier for tots to pull on. 

Size range: 8T–4Y | Material: Rubber sole; synthetic fabric upper

Best Closed-Toe: Nike Aquasock 360 Water-Friendly Slip-On

Nike Aquasock 360 Water-Friendly Slip-On

Source: Nike

Pros
  • Mesh upper

  • Extra toe protection 

  • Cute style

Cons
  • Toddlers may have trouble putting on/taking them off solo

Not only are these water shoes just adorable, but they’re also great for keeping little feet protected. While the upper part of the shoe is made from breathable mesh, the bottom sole is hard and comes up over the toe box of the shoe, preventing stubbed toes and providing extra traction to avoid slips and falls. 

The shoes feature pull-tab heels and have a slip-on design similar to a sock that helps them stay in place. While perfect for kids who have a handle on their motor skills, younger toddlers may need help getting the shoes on and off. These water shoes are flexible to provide a barefoot feel, but just a heads up that they run small, so you may want to size up. 

Size range: 2T-10C | Material: Rubber sole, mesh

Best Sandal: KEEN Unisex Kid Newport H2 Sandal

KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Shoes

Courtesy of DSW

Pros
  • Sandal style

  • Toggle lace for custom fit

  • Hook-and-loop strap

Cons
  • They are a bit pricey

  • Too bulky for swimming

If you want a water shoe for your toddler that’s breathable, then you can’t go wrong with this pair from Keen. The sandals also have a stretchy toggle lace that helps give a snug fit, as well as a hook-and-loop strap that makes putting them on and taking them off solo a bit easier for young kids. 

We really like these because they offer the sandal style without sacrificing durability or quality. They feature a hard rubber sole, rounded rubber toe bumpers, and an upper made from polyester webbing. They are slightly heavier than some of the other shoes on this list, so we do not suggest them for anything that will involve swimming.

Size range: 4T–7Y | Material: Textile and synthetic upper; synthetic lining and sole

Best Non-Slip: Bigib Toddler Kids Swim Water Shoes

Bigib Toddler Kids Swim Water Shoes

Source: Bigib

Pros
  • Rubber sole specifically designed for traction

  • Soft upper that isn’t itchy

  • Variety of colors/prints

Cons
  • Less breathable than other styles

Technically, all water shoes should be non-slip, but like everything else, not all are created equal. We chose these as our favorite non-slip option because, in addition to being super cute, they have a rubber sole that is specifically designed for traction to reduce the risk of slips and falls. 

The upper part of the shoe is made from a soft fabric that has a snug fit but isn’t itchy, and the heels feature a pull tab. These shoes are available in a variety of adorable colors and prints, plus they’re very reasonably priced—which is always a perk. 

Size range: 3T-13C | Material: Rubber sole; synthetic fabric upper

Best Slip-On: Native Jefferson Water Friendly Slip-On Vegan Sneaker

Native Jefferson Shoe

Nordstrom

Pros
  • Versatile style 

  • Lightweight and comfortable

  • More than a dozen color options

Cons
  • Shoe has no stretch, so can be difficult to slip on wider feet

Available in a rainbow of colors, the Jefferson is a very popular slip-on kids' shoe because its design makes it perfect for general play, casual events, and fun in the water. They have a sneaker-like style but are made completely from EVA, which is water-resistant, super lightweight, and comfortable. 

The shoe upper is perforated to allow for air circulation and quick drying. We love the slip-on design of these shoes, but be mindful of the size you purchase because they can be difficult to get on if your child’s foot is wide (either naturally or due to swelling from heat). 

Size range: 2T–6Y | Material: EVA

Best Budget: DSG Kids’ Printed Water Shoes

DSG Kids’ Printed Water Shoes

Source: DSG

Pros
  • Breathable sandal-shoe design

  • Easy to get on and off

  • Affordable price

Cons
  • Limited color and design options

These shoes tick so many of our boxes: They're a breathable sandal shape, have a Velcro strap like a sneaker, and are very budget-friendly. The upper part of the shoe is made from lightweight neoprene, and the hard sole has a non-slip design that extends over the tips of the toes for extra protection. 

You also don’t have to worry about sacrificing comfort for a lower price because these shoes are made with a cushioned foam footbed for a little extra comfort. 

Size range: 4T–12C | Material: TPR outsole; neoprene upper

Best Aqua Socks: Apolter Aqua Socks

Apolter Aqua Socks

Source: Apolter

Pros
  • Flexible design for barefoot feel

  • Extra padded toe for protection

  • Lightweight 

Cons
  • Wear out quickly

For a water shoe with a barefoot feel, these aqua socks by Apolter are our favorite. They have a non-slip rubber sole to keep feet protected, while the flexible, unstructured upper allows toddlers to strengthen their feet and improve balance. Even with the rubber sole, these shoes are lightweight, and the upper is made from a soft, quick-drying, breathable fabric. 

As expected, these aqua socks slip onto the foot just like socks, but they also have a pull-tab on the heel to make putting them on and taking them off a little easier. Finally, these shoes have a little extra padding along the tips of the toes for protection, and we love the wide variety (35!) of fun color and print options.

Size range: 1/2T–11/12C | Material: Rubber sole; fabric upper

Final Verdict

Any of these water shoes would be a great choice for a toddler, but we particularly love the Crocs Kids Classic Clogs because their lightweight, funky design is great for water play and everyday wear, with a color option to suit any kid's taste. The DSG Kids’ Printed Water Shoes also have plenty of what we look for in a water shoe at a very low price.

How We Selected the Best Water Shoes for Toddlers

To create this list, we first consulted with Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon, and a physician spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, to better understand what toddlers need in a water shoe. With this information, we then researched various brands and styles of kids' water shoes that met his suggestions. From there, we narrowed it down to the final selections based on construction/durability, style, price, and reviews.

What to Look for in Water Shoes for Toddlers

Materials

Not all water shoes dry quickly, so if you’re looking for something your kids can wear for an entire day (or days in a row!), opt for a pair made from a foam-like EVA or mesh material. In fact, Dr. Mendeszoon specifically recommends mesh because it’s breathable to help avoid skin issues caused by feet sitting in damp conditions for too long. Dr. Medeszoon tells Verywell Family that these skin issues can include “maceration, soft skin, and even skin infections such as athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and bacterial infections.” 

If you’re not interested in the mesh options, then there are some great foam-like styles, too. One thing to keep in mind with these water shoes is that kids' feet can slip around in them, so make sure the insole of the shoe is made from a material with some traction. 

Design

The best design for your child depends a lot on the activities they like to do. For instance, a sneaker is best for kids who are running around on sidewalks, whereas something with a more durable sole is a better choice for kids who play in the woods or by a lake.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the traction on the sole to minimize the risk of your child slipping and falling. Also, check the construction of the shoe’s straps to avoid the shoe slipping off during play. And finally, consider whether you prefer open- or closed-toe styles. If you are stocking up on water shoes for summer camp or child care, keep in mind that many facilities require closed-toe shoes.

Size and Comfort

No matter what, if the shoe doesn’t fit your child well or is not comfortable, then they won't want to wear it. Be sure to pay attention to online sizing guides for water shoes because they can sometimes differ from standard sizes. Think about how the shoe will fit when it’s wet (will it become tighter, loser, significantly heavier, etc.), and when your child's feet swell in the heat.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does my kid need water shoes?

    “Generally, toddlers would benefit from not wearing shoes if they are [at a] beach or lake or pool,” says Mark Mendeszoon, DPM. “Unless their feet are very sensitive, I would recommend that children go barefoot when swimming.” However, if kids are playing with water and are walking on surfaces that could cause injury, water shoes are certainly nice to have. Not only are they great for use at splash pads and any kind of water play, but they're also helpful at the beach and around a pool.

  • Can my kids wear water shoes all day?

    Many types of water shoes can be worn all day, as long as they provide support for kids' feet and dry quickly. Water socks, on the other hand, aren't appropriate for all-day wear, as they don't provide as much protection and support for a child's foot. 

  • Does my baby need water shoes for the beach?

    If your baby isn't walking yet, water shoes aren't necessary. If they're beginning to toddle, water shoes can help protect their feet from the hot sand or sharp rocks and shells. However, Dr. Mendeszoon notes that if your child “[does] not have hypersensitivity in their feet and if the beach is not extremely rocky, the recommendation is to go barefoot.” 

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products for her own daughters, including water shoes. With two little ones who love to play in the water and run through the sprinkler, Ashley understands what parents are looking for in kid and toddler water shoes.

1 Source
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  1. BEST CROCS FOR KIDS. BestReviews. https://bestreviews.com/baby-kids/clothing/best-crocs-for-kids