Finding the best baby shoes can feel like an uphill battle, particularly when your little ones constantly outgrow their clothing. Even more perplexing, new parents with toddling babes might find themselves poring over adorable sneakers, slippers, and shoes, only to find that their baby refuses to wear them.
Today, I’ll apply everything I’ve learned about picking the best baby shoes to help you choose the best possible pair for your little one. No matter your child’s size, age, style, and preferences, there’s a perfect pair of baby shoes out there. Let’s explore some of my favorites.
The Best Baby Shoes in 2021
Our Choice For: Best Overall
Transitioning from baby booties to toddler shoes can be frustrating for both parents and little ones. But the BirdRock Baby Moccasins help make this change easy. These shoes are made of soft, durable leather that adheres to your child’s tiny feet.
Instead of employing velcro straps, brittle metal buckles, or complicated laces, these moccasins rely on hidden elastic to keep shoes snuggly fitted. However, this elastic is breathable and expandable enough to let tots slip shoes off without too much trouble. As such, they produce far fewer tears and tantrums than restrictive sneakers or sandals.
Available in seven baby-friendly sizes (and more than 30 different colors and styles), your child can grow with these shoes. Even better, each time you purchase a pair of these shoes, you’re also helping feed children in need. That’s because BirdRock has a partnership with the Feed My Starving Children non-profit organization.
Our Choice For: Most Waterproof
Crocs are despised by some but loved by many. The fascination with these shoes comes, in part, from their ease of use. Unlike tight-fitting sneakers or slippers, these toddler-appropriate shoes slip onto your little one’s feet in mere seconds. Their foam composition also cushions each step, helping to ease your child into wearing shoes.
But one of the fascinating aspects of tot-appropriate Crocs is their waterproof nature. If your kid is the adventurous sort, these features are a godsend. Scrubbing deep mud and grass stains from your toddler’s sneakers isn’t fun, but parents are bound to enjoy watching the stains and dirt melt away from these shoes. All you need is a faucet or hose!
Overall, these baby-friendly Crocs are a smart choice for active tots and their outdoor-loving parents. They’re the perfect pick for a trip to the beach, the local park, and backyard mud puddles. Still, these shoes are best-suited to toddlers, as babies may not use them often enough to appreciate their waterproof abilities.
Our Choice For: Coziest Materials
If comfort is more important than waterproofness, then these booties should be an all-time favorite. They’re made of machine-washable polyester and fleece, making them some of the most cuddle-worthy baby shoes on the market.
And while they’re not exceptionally durable, they are some of the snuggest baby booties. Your tiny tot might kick their shoes off in the car while walking, or at any time they feel annoyed by their footwear. But these booties cinch tight around your babe’s ankles with the help of a small velcro strap.
Many baby booties are inappropriate for older tots, as they’re too slippery for uncarpeted areas. Your toddling babe can quickly slide and fall while wearing a standard pair of booties. Not so with this pair, thanks to some non-slip buttons adhered to the soles. This pair could be a wise option for children struggling to transition from booties to traditional shoes.
Our Choice For: Best for Early Walkers
These shoes bridge the gap between soft, comfy booties and moccasins and hard, stiff sneakers. They’re made of flexible mesh fabric that helps tiny toes breathe, and the rugged rubber soles are capable of withstanding miles of walking.
While the DEBAIJIA Walking Trainers might not be the best selection for sprint-happy toddlers, they are an excellent choice for early walkers. If your little one is between six months and a year old, then these easy-to-wear shoes could be the ideal first pair of non-booties.
These walking shoes don’t have any straps or laces, and they’re incredibly flexible. As such, your child will be able to put their shoes on and take them off without too much hassle. They come in several different colors and styles, many of which are aesthetically pleasing for both adults and kids.
Our Choice For: Most Traction for Babies
Rubber soles might work well on dry, paved surfaces, but they can become slippery when wet. Consequently, many parents search for a pair of non-rubber baby shoes when choosing their little one’s first footwear. If traction is one of your top priorities, you might want to skip the sneakers and choose these fleece booties instead.
While the Zutano Fleece Booties might not be as waterproof or durable as other baby shoes, they do have non-slip dots all across the soles. These dots grab onto surfaces, dry and wet, to keep tiny toddlers upright and walking. They’re also incredibly soft and warm, helping babes feel comfy and confident as they trot around.
The major downside to this pair might be the limited sizing options, though the snap closure helps keep these booties firmly secured. Whether you’re looking for the perfect indoor shoes for your little one or simply hoping to keep their slipping and sliding at a minimum, these booties do the trick.
Our Choice For: Cutest Sneakers
Many of the baby shoes I’ve reviewed offer plenty of practical benefits, but few tug at my heartstrings quite like the See Kai Run Steve II Sneakers. While there are infant-friendly booties and toddler-friendly sneakers aplenty, few baby shoes offer the protection, non-slip construction, and stylish design of these sneakers.
These shoes come in more than a dozen styles, most of which are targeted toward boys. Each one offers a wide sole and extra toe room for growing feet, an essential aspect to consider when choosing baby shoes. Still, these are some of the most petite baby sneakers available, so your little one might not get too much use out of them.
But these adorable sneakers could help your babe get accustomed to wearing shoes early on. And if you’re interested in bronzing your baby’s first pair of shoes, it’s challenging to find a cuter option than these. Besides, the larger toddler sizes are ideal for fast-moving feet!
Our Choice For: Best for Running Toddlers
New Balance is a brand known for its quality sneakers. If you’re raising a tiny athlete, these baby-sized New Balance sneakers might be worth the slightly higher price. These come in several dozen sizes (including wide sizes) and four primary styles, lending them well to children of all ages and preferences.
But babies with a penchant for running might benefit the most from wearing these sneakers. That’s because these shoes are designed for daily walks, runs, and playtime. Not only are they sporty and cute, but they’re also durable and compact. The two velcro straps on each shoe help keep tiny feet secure, allowing your little one to run around with ease.
It’s crucial to consider your child’s activity when choosing a new pair of shoes for them. While slippers and booties might be great for light activities and indoor playtime, they can become tripping hazards when children start sprinting around the yard. Keeping your little safe and fit may be as straightforward as investing in a solid pair of baby sneakers like these.
Our Choice For: Adorable Girl Styles
Do you crave the classic look and style of Mary Janes? If so, you’ll immediately become enamored with these tiny shoes. They’re one of the most attractive options for girls, though boys can also comfortably wear them.
Still, many of the styles feature cute flower decals and decorations, lending these shoes well to your tiny princess. Your child can even help you choose the best pair, allowing them to exercise their free will and sense of self. With more than a dozen styles from which to choose, you’re bound to find a combination that suits your little one’s preferences.
Not only do these shoes harken back to older, simpler times, but they’re also made of simple, tried-and-true materials. You’ll find that these pintsized Mary Janes are made of pure leather, solid rubber, and soft cotton threading. And unlike older iterations of this timeless shoe, the Little Mae Mary Janes are secured with soft velcro straps, not skin-irritating metal buckles.
Our Choice For: Best Water Shoes
While a pair of Crocs might float on the surface of the water, helping parents retrieve lost shoes more efficiently, they’re not always the best for underwater wear. If your little one loves spending time in the water, they’ll need a protective pair of shoes to keep their feet safe and comfy.
Fortunately, the FEETCITY Baby Aqua Socks are just the thing for water-loving babies. Not only do they cover more of your child’s feet than waterproof slippers and sandals, but they’re also made of breathable polyester and spandex. The soles are constructed of durable non-slip EVA, keeping your little one safe from sharp rocks, slippery surfaces, and hot pavement.
These water shoes use a small velcro closure to remain snug, but this can come undone during use. As such, parents will want to choose carefully among the five available sizes (six months to three years old). Still, this pair of shoes is stylish, affordable, and great for sunny days out on the water.
Proper arch support doesn’t just accidentally happen. It requires years of supportive footwear, which is why it’s wise to start your little one off with a pair of sturdy, arch-forward shoes. Still, most toddlers don’t like the style or feel of orthopedic shoes.
But you can outfit your little one with a pair of stylish and supportive sneakers when you invest in a couple of KIDSUN High Tops. These shoes are inspired by the original basketball sneakers worn by players in the early 20th century, and their thick rubber soles are durable enough to handle almost any surface.
Though these sneakers only come in three size ranges, they’re available in more than 40 colors and styles. This ensures that your tot gets to pick a pair that fits their preferences. Toddlers love practicing their independence, and you can support this habit (and their feet) with a couple of these classic, sporty sneakers.
How to Choose the Best Baby Shoes
You’re now armed with several baby shoe options, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found your ideal pair. Learning how to choose the best baby shoes for your little one goes well beyond picking the cutest-looking pair. If you don’t select the correct size or style, you might quickly find yourself returning those must-have booties.
To choose the best baby shoes, you’ll need to consider your child’s age, size, walking ability, and personal preferences. It’s also an excellent idea to keep your budget in mind when choosing new baby shoes. Most options are affordable, but there are some pricey toddler-sized sneakers out there.
If you’re not sure what size shoe your little one wears, you’ll want to measure their feet using a flexible measuring tape. Be sure to measure from the base of the heel to the tip of the longest toe. Using these measurements, you can select the right-sized shoes. After that, it’s simply a matter of choosing shoes that make sense for your child’s personality and activity level.
Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Shoes
What Are the Best Shoes for Babies?
The best shoes for babies depend on the child’s age, activity level, and personality in question. The best shoes for your baby are ones that fit well, don’t cause discomfort, and are appropriate for the types of activities your child enjoys.
As a general rule, parents should avoid outfitting toddlers in flip-flops. These open-air shoes pose a significant tripping hazard to tots learning how to walk, run, and jump around.
When Should You Start Putting Shoes on a Baby?
The sooner your child becomes accustomed to the feeling of wearing shoes, the sooner they’ll feel comfortable in them. To help prepare your baby for walking and shoewear, you’ll want to cover their feet with soft booties before they’ve learned to walk.
After your child has started toddling around, you can go ahead and switch to baby slippers, sneakers, and sandals. Velcro shoes are an excellent option, as they’re simple enough for small children to use.
How Do I Choose My Baby’s First Shoes?
If you and your tot are often homebound and indoors, you may want to choose a slipper-like shoe. But if you both enjoy heading outside to the local playground, a tiny pair of sneakers might be the better option.
As such, you’ll need to figure your child’s shoe size and consider their everyday activities when choosing their first pair of shoes. Taking care to pick a couple with plenty of potential is bound to help ease the transition into walking.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Baby Shoes
Choosing the best baby shoes for your child doesn’t have to be a challenge. When you take the time to measure your child’s feet, confirm their shoe size, consider their activities, and choose a pair that meets their preferences, you’re bound to succeed.
In this mom’s humble opinion, the BirdRock Baby Moccasins are the best baby shoes. They come in plenty of sizes, making them an excellent option for babies of almost any age. They’re also made of soft leather that keeps tiny toes comfy and warm. With zero straps, buckles, or laces to deal with, these might also be the most effortless shoes to put on your toddler.