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The Best Summer Shoes for Toddlers – Crocs, Natives, Stride Rite, or Keen Sandals?

Keen Girl Summer Shoes

With summer time being around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what type of summer shoes you will provide for your toddler.

There are several choices out there, but not all sandals will provide your children with the support, stability, and comfort that they need to keep their feet and legs healthy.

I am an expert when it comes to fitting children’s shoes since I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last 10 years, specializing in children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings well.

For the last 3 years I have been helping parents find the perfect pair of shoes for their children online.

The summer shoes that you choose to provide for your children will play a key role in keeping their feet and legs healthy. During the summer season is when I have noticed that children develop more blisters, calluses, and even corns.

Several parents have asked me what type of summer shoes they should provide for their toddlers. Especially since there are many options out there and among the most popular ones are Crocs, Natives, Stride Rite, and Keen. Surely you have heard of some of these shoe brands before.

The big question is: Which one of these shoe brands should you provide for your toddler?

I have fitted shoe styles from all of these shoe brands before, so let me give you my feedback:

I recommend that you stay away from Crocs and Natives, even though they are both extremely popular among children. The main reason for this is that they don’t provide any support or stability, and they might end up creating several issues to their feet. The main issue with these two shoe brands is they don’t come with any Velcro closure that can hold your toddlers’ feet in place.

Although, Crocs and Natives are better alternatives for older children who are more stable and in control of their feet. I still advice to limit the use to 4 to 5 hours a day even for older children.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Crocs came up with a new style that comes with a Velcro strap that offers more support and stability. This shoe style is also affordable, durable, and supportive. You can learn about that style here:

The Best Crocs for Kids Reviewed – New Style Released!

The other two shoe brands that I mentioned are Stride Rite and Keens. These two shoe brands manufacture sandals that are more substantial and supportive, and children can wear them for longer periods time.

Keen sandals are the #1 summer choice for toddlers who need a versatile sandal to play and run around for most of the day. They are practically indestructible, which means that if you leave the correct amount of growing room your child will wear them for the whole summer season (you can even pass them down to a younger chid).

Stride Rite sandals offer great versatility in terms of support and fit, since it manufactures sandals that are available in wide and extra wide widths.

I will show you a selection of the best summer sandals for toddlers, but I want you to get familiar with what features the sandals will provide and how you can make sure that you get the correct sandal size for your toddler.

Why is your Toddler Developing Foot Issues During the Summer?

There are several reasons why toddlers are more likely to develop foot issues during the summer:

  • They might be wearing a pair of sandals that are too stiff. Sandals should always made of soft and comfortable materials.
  • Their feet might be moving too much inside the sandals and that constant friction between the feet and the sandals is leading to the foot issues mentioned above.
  • The sandals are not drying fast enough and walking around with wet feet for most of the day makes the skin more prone to blisters.

What Features Should your Toddler Sandals Provide? – Let’s Find Out!

There are 5 important features that the sandals must provide in order to keep your toddlers’ feet healthy:

  • Substantial sole: This feature will provide shock absorption and minimize the impact that your toddlers’ feet take when they come in contact with the ground. A substantial sole will also allow your toddler to wear the sandals for longer periods of time.
  • Good traction: This feature will prevent your toddler from slipping and falling down, especially when walking around wet surfaces.
  • Secure Velcro closure: It’s important for the sandals to come with a Velcro strap to hold your child’s feet in place and prevent them from moving too much inside the sandal. This feature will also allow your child to be able to play and run around feeling more stable.
  • Quick Dry Technology: This feature will allow the sandals to dry fast and prevent your child from walking around with wet feet.
  • Lightweight and Flexible: It’s important for the sandals to be supportive, but they must be lightweight and flexible at the same time in order to prevent your toddlers’ feet and legs from easily getting tired.

Boy Saltwater Sandals

Before I show you a selection of the best summer shoes for toddlers, I want to make sure that you know how to provide your toddler with the correct shoe size. I am always explaining to parents that it doesn’t matter how many features a particular shoe style provides, if the shoes are not the correct size, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.

Let’s first make sure that you don’t have a good fitting children’s shoe store in your area. START by taking a look at a map I created where I describe the best fitting children’s shoe store by state:

The Best Kids’ Shoe Stores In The United States – Where To Go For Proper Fittings

If after looking at that map you still can’t seem to find a good fitting children’s shoe store in your area, then proceed to take a look at an article I created where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your toddler’s foot size from home:

How To Measure Kids Shoe Size From Home – In Less Than 30 Seconds!

Now that you know what features a good sandal must provide and how to make sure that you provide your toddler with the correct shoe size, we are ready to take a look at a selection of the best summer shoes for toddlers.

The Best Summer Shoes for Toddlers – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Please keep in mind that I only review shoes that I have fitted before, since that is the only way I can tell parents how well-made the shoes are and how the shoes fit (short, long, narrow or wide).

Most sandals are available in whole sizes only, so you will need to adjust the size that you get for your toddler depending on what size he/she measures at the shoe measuring scale.

As a rule of thumb, we always want to provide children with a half size longer (there should be 3/8 of an inch between the longest toe and the end of the shoes) of the size that they measure at the standard foot measuring scale (Brannock device) in order to allow for growing room. However, shoes can fit short, long, narrow, or wide, and depending on how they fit you will need to adjust the final shoe size that you get for your child.

Here you can find a selection of the best summer shoes for toddlers made by Stride Rite, and these sandals will fit a toddler with medium, wide, or extra wide feet (as long as you choose the shoe width accordingly):


These Stride Rite sandals all fit “true to size”, which means that you need to provide your toddler with a half a size longer of the size that he/she measured at the measuring tool, in order to allow for growing room.

Here you can find a selection of the best summer shoes for toddlers made by Keen, and these sandals will fit a toddler with medium or wide feet:


These Keen sandals also fit “true to size”, which means that you need to provide your toddler with a half a size longer of the size that he/she measured at the measuring tool, in order to allow for growing room.

If you have a toddler with narrow feet, you should take a look at two articles I wrote where I describe the best sandals for children with narrow feet:

Narrow Sandals For Boys – The Best Styles For Your Boy With Narrow Feet!

Narrow Sandals For Girls – The Best Summer Sandals For Girls With Narrow Feet!

If you can’t seem to find a particular shoe style for your child, please do not hesitate to contact me, since I will be able to HELP YOU find it. It doesn’t matter how narrow or wide your kids’ feet are, there is always at least one particular shoe style out there that will fit the shape of your child’s feet perfectly.

Do you have a favorite summer sandal that you like to provide for your toddler? Is there a particular brand that you can recommend? Please share your thoughts below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.

STOP BUYING THE WRONG PAIR OF SHOES FOR YOUR CHILDREN.LET’S START TAKING CARE OF THEIR FEET!

I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kid’s feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids’ feet and get my guide for free: The 5 Most Common Mistakes Parents Make when Buying Their Kids’ Shoes

6 Comments on The Best Summer Shoes for Toddlers – Crocs, Natives, Stride Rite, or Keen Sandals?

  1. I for some reason thought that toddlers shoes (1.5 year age) should have a back and not the open heel. Isn’t it required for extra support or open heel is okay?

    • Hello Maycha,

      Great point. However, sandals don’t provide any type of ankle or heel support. Even if the shoes come with a closed heel in the back, it doesn’t make any difference. The only part of the sandal that provides support is the sole, and it has to be substantial in order to reduce the impact that your toddler’s feet take every time they come in contact with the ground.

      I hope this clarifies.

  2. My daughter measures 5.25in or 13.3 cm. I have tried the Keen Newton and Seacamp sizes 6 and 7 and am confused. Going a half size up would probably put her in a 6.5 size but Keen does not have half sizes. The 7 length-wise is probably best, but the strap overlaps the Velcro since her feet are narrow and thin. She has chipmunk orthotics and over pronation with toe walking. I know you mentioned Newton is the best option, but maybe I’m out of luck. Any suggestions appreciated, thanks!

    • Hello Julie,

      It seems like your daughter is in between sizes. If I am understanding correctly, the size 7 is too long and the size 6 doesn’t provide her with any growing room.

      I believe I have the solution for you. There is a particular style called the “Moxie” which provides similar support as the Newport and fits children with narrow feet.

      Here is the style I am talking about:

      Supportive Sandal for Pronation/Narrow Feet

      I recommend that you try the size 7. I hope this helps!

      • Yes that is exactly it regarding the size problems! Thank you for the recommendation! I saw the Moxie on Amazon but wasn’t sure if that had the same support as the other two models for her flat feet. I’m definitely going to try them now. And thank you for your site it’s very helpful for mom’s like me.

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