You’re heading out for some fun at the beach…or maybe you’re just heading to the grocery store, but your child has an affinity for jumping in puddles.
Either way, if you’re like me, you’re probably tired of the smelly, stinky, and ruined shoes that result after they’ve been soaked through by your little explorer.
Thankfully, there are shoes that have been created with just this problem in mind. But buying waterproof shoes is a little more complicated than just picking up a new pair of sneakers.
There are several things to consider, and we’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Read on to learn about how to pick the best water shoes – and which ones may be best for your little one.
|Product||Best For||Our Rating|
|1. Keen Sandals||Unisex|
|2. Fresko (Toes)||Beach Shoes (Toddlers)|
|3. SUIEK Infant||Infants|
|5. Minnow Aqua||Beach Shoes (Babies)|
|6. PediPed Flex||Wide Feet|
|7. Teva Tidepool||Velcro|
|8. Stride Rite||Boys|
|9. iPlay Unisex||Swimming Pool|
|10. Norocos Lightweight||Aqua Socks|
What Are Water Shoes?
“Water shoes” refers to a category of waterproof footwear that is designed to be worn in or around the water.
The shoes are referred to as “waterproof,” but this terminology refers to the fact that the material from which they are made can withstand to be submerged in water. They are not waterproof in the sense that they keep water out of the shoes.
Why Does My Child Need Water Shoes?
The primary function of water shoes is to keep the feet safe and comfortable while walking on surfaces that have the potential to be sharp, painful, and even dangerous. Water shoes allow children (and adults) to experience everything the outdoors has to offer while preventing injury to the feet.
Areas with water – typically lakes, rivers, and oceans – are filled with potential dangers to a child walking barefoot.
Some examples are:
- Sharp rocks
- Slippery rocks
- Jagged shells
- Stinging sea creatures
- Broken glass or other trash
- Hot sand
Wearing water shoes can provide your child with a barrier between their tender feet and hazards located in or around water.
Not only do they contribute to safety, but they also help to ensure your child’s comfort. Even though the seaweed on the bottom of the lake poses no real threat, it can feel strange to a child and deter them from even entering the water.
Water shoes can also help keep your child safe while at the local pool. They are typically manufactured with rubber bottoms that can keep your child from slipping on the pool deck or changing area.
And finally, while water shoes are intended for a very specific use (in or around water), many a mom has figured out that they’re a great all-around shoe for their active children.
Can’t I Just Use Regular Shoes or Sandals?
You may be tempted to save money by simply allowing your child to wear an old or inexpensive pair of shoes or sandals in the water to protect their feet. This can be problematic for the following reasons.
Wearing footwear that was not designed for water can also result in injury to the feet. Wet material (that was not manufactured to be worn while wet or saturated) can rub against the feet, causing blisters and discomfort.
Finally, putting regular shoes in the water has the potential to ruin them. They are not made from bacteria- and mold-resistant material, which means they can develop a foul odor after being submerged in water, and the material of the body of the shoe can break down.
What Types of Water Shoes Are There?
Water-friendly footwear comes in many different designs (source).
- Aqua Socks or Wet Shoes: Basically a skin-tight neoprene foot covering, this option offers slip resistance, warmth, and keeps the sand out, preventing it from rubbing between your child’s shoe and their sensitive skin. However, because of the thinness of the sole, it does not offer as much protection from the elements underfoot. This option is primarily used by on-the-water enthusiasts (think kayakers, canoers, jet-skiers) but might not be the most practical for a little one who’s needing foot protection from rough terrain.
- Water Shoes: These look like typical shoes but are made of plastic, mesh, or some other material that will dry quickly and allow the foot to breathe. They have a thick sole to provide protection, and usually have a reinforced toe (made from thick plastic or rubber) to keep your little one from stubbing their toes on unseen underwater obstacles. It also helps to keep the sand out of the front of the shoe.
- Water Sandals: These are constructed similar to the water shoe but without the reinforced toe. They keep feet cooler during the hot summer months but allow more sand to enter the shoe and offer less toe protection. Still, they are constructed from waterproof and breathable materials, so you know that they will hold up in water – and keep your little one’s feet healthy in the process.
What Do I Need to Look for When Buying Water Shoes?
When buying water shoes for your child, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Primary Use: Where will your child be using their water shoes? If you’re on a beach in sunny California, aqua socks may be perfect, protecting their feet from the hot sand. If you’re wading in a Midwest river, you’ll likely want full-protection water shoes to keep them from stubbing their toes on underwater rocks. And if you’re hanging out by the lake in the mountains, water sandals may be just right, offering underfoot protection but allowing the water to flow easily through their toes.
- Material: Water shoes come in a variety of materials. Straight-up plastic won’t absorb water at all and will dry practically immediately. But, it can rub against your little one’s skin or be hot since they aren’t breathable. Mesh is another option. Regardless, skip any shoe made of leather as it will not hold up in water.
- Independence: Do you have a child who insists on putting everything on by himself? Or do you have a baby, so you’re the one dressing your child? Water sandals are the easiest to put on – so if you’re looking for ease, choose a sandal with simple velcro straps.
- Sole Thickness: If you think your child will be using water shoes as an everyday shoe, or if you’ll be using them in locales with sharp or uneven terrain, choose shoes that have a thick, solid sole for maximum protection. However, if you’re dealing with an early walker who’s still getting the hang of things, you might want to choose something less bulky and clunky to help them keep their balance.
The Best Kids Water Shoes of 2018
Now that you know about the different kinds of water shoes, and exactly what to look for when buying a great pair —
Here are our reviews of the top 10 picks in 2018:
Welcome to the best of all worlds: waterproof upper, skin-tight protection from sand, a skid-proof sole that’s thin enough to feel the ground beneath but thick enough to offer protection, all packaged in a water sock with toe protection.
The neoprene upper is water resistant and quick-dry, and its elastic fit with velcro closure make them easy to put on for both you and your toddler.
These will give your child the protection they need without feeling too bulky and are versatile enough to wear in a number of different environments.
- They are sturdy yet flexible.
- They fit snug around the ankle to keep out sand.
- They offer toe protection.
- They are machine washable.
- The foot is fully covered; may be hot.
- Some reviewers complained about durability.
Lightweight so they won’t interfere with your child’s budding walking skills, the protective yet thin rubber sole will allow them to feel the ground so they can keep their balance.
And with the uppers made from a blend of polyester and spandex, they’re elastic enough to cling to their feet so they don’t fall off. But even if they do, don’t worry – they float for easy recovery.
These aqua socks are available in a wide range of designs, so you’re sure to find one that will fit your little one’s personality.
And because they’re so colorful and cute, you probably won’t have any trouble convincing your toddler to wear them, either.
- Elastic construction makes putting them on simple.
- They have a rubber sole for protection.
- They are thin, so they will not interfere with early walking.
- They will dry quickly.
- There is no adjustable closure.
- They are not thick; not suitable for rough terrain.
- Some reviewers did not find them durable.
These swim shoes are made of quick-dry neoprene combined with breathable mesh on the uppers, allowing the air to circulate properly around your child’s foot – even when wet.
The bottoms are made of rubber along with a non-skid sole to ensure traction, keeping your child’s foot protected and preventing accidents on the most slippery of surfaces.
They come in several different colors and the elasticity of the shoe along with a built-in pull tab help with easy off-and-on.
- They come in many different colors.
- There is a loop for easy pull-on.
- They have a protective sole.
- They are made of quick-dry material.
- It is difficult to get the right fit.
- They run a little large.
- There is no adjustable closure to ensure proper fit.
These water sandals not only come in wide toddler sizes, but they also come in gender-specific colors so you can buy cute ones for either your boy or your girl.
They have a neoprene lining that will help stave off the stink that can come with wet shoes, and also contribute to quick drying.
They are also developed with your child’s foot health and comfort in mind – in fact, they’re approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting healthy foot development.
Further, the rugged, flexible sole will make sure your child’s feet are protected wherever they go.
- They are available in wide sizes.
- They have a neoprene lining.
- They are designed for healthy foot development.
- They are a little costly.
- Some reviewers complained about rubbing.
- These would not work well on the beach with sand.
This hybrid option from high-quality brand Teva blends the comfort of a sandal with some toe protection. Because let’s be honest: kids aren’t exactly the most careful people on the planet.
With these shoes, they’ll be spared the pain of a stubbed toe while still allowing their feet to breathe.
They are constructed from a synthetic waterproof material that will dry quickly and have a velcro closure so you can make them as tight (or as loose) as you need to fit properly.
To cap it off, they’ve got a thick, rubber sole for maximum traction and safety while walking.
- It has a thick, protective sole.
- It is constructed from a quick-dry water resistant material.
- It has a velcro closure.
- Closed toe is soft (not hard plastic or rubber).
- Some reviewers found the toe peeked out of one of the cutouts.
- These shoes are on the pricier side.
These shoes are great for your little one who’s just learning to walk. The thinner soles provide protection against hot sand and some of the more uncomfortable ground obstacles without having a thick, bulky sole that can hinder an early walker.
They are constructed of waterproof neoprene, meaning they will stretch to insert the foot but retract to stay firmly in place.
But in the event your little one removes them or tosses them into the water to play, they’ll float, so you won’t lose them.
- They are waterproof.
- They are comfortable for early walkers.
- They provide protection against hot sand.
- These shoes float.
- There is no adjustable enclosure.
- The sole is not thick (not suitable for rocky terrain).
- These are time-limited; they are best for small babies (not active toddlers).
The adorable shoes will keep your sweet baby’s feet safe and comfy. They are designed to be skin-tight, which keeps the sand out of their shoe, prevents it from rubbing and irritating their skin, and also keeps the sand out of your house.
The bottom of the fully-neoprene shoe also has non-skid traction to keep your little one from falling.
These shoes were designed on the beaches of Australia and made to help parents protect their kids’ feet from hot sand and sharp shells.
For a baby that’s still getting the hang of walking, they’re a great option to enjoy protection while still being able to feel the sand underneath their toes.
- Great for early walkers.
- These shoes are not bulky.
- They have a non-skid surface.
- They keep irritating and abrasive sand out.
- They are inappropriate for concrete.
- The sizing is a little complicated.
- They are not appropriate for older toddlers.
These water shoes are light enough for the beach yet rugged enough to prevent foot injury.
The rubber sole will keep your child’s feet protected, and the fitted uppers will keep the sand out – unlike sandals or other designs.
You can make sure they fit with the adjustable enclosure, and the high-quality material is odorless.
Reviewers agree that they dry very quickly, and the traction on the bottom is designed with water play in mind to keep your child safe.
- They are lightweight.
- They have good traction.
- They dry quickly.
- They have an adjustable closure.
- Some reviewers found them too tight around the ankle.
- They tend to run a little small.
- They do not offer toe protection.
If you have a hard time keeping your active boy confined to either the splash pad or the playground, these shoes will let him run between both without worry.
They have an anti-microbial lining that will prevent the growth of bacteria and keep them from smelling if they get wet.
They’re also designed just like a regular shoe so they have proper arch and ankle support, but are constructed out of rubber (along with a quick-dry synthetic fabric) so they have the functionality of an athletic shoe with the durability of a water shoe.
The rubber sole and closed toe also mean that your kiddo’s feet and toes are adequately protected.
- They can be easily washed by hosing them off.
- They will not smell when wet.
- They come in many different colors.
- They are very versatile.
- Sand could cause rubbing if they get in the shoes.
- These would not be well suited for the beach.
Keens have long been the powerhouse of the water shoe industry, and they built their reputation for a reason.
Not only do they provide thick protection on both the sole and the toe, but the bottom of the shoe is built more like an athletic shoe or boot for exceptional traction.
Each shoe is adjustable up top with both an elastic lace and a velcro closure, and the quick-dry fabric has built-in odor controlling technology.
What’s more, these shoes offer unparalleled anatomical support with a removable footbed, helping keep your child comfy even if they’ve been running all day.
Finally, they come in every color of the rainbow – meaning you can choose your kiddo’s personal fave, or choose black or tan as a unisex option that can be used for hand-me-downs later.
- They are adjustable for a good fit.
- They have odor-controlling technology.
- They have thick, sporty soles.
- They are durable.
- They do not come in half sizes.
- They are a little pricey.
My Favorite Are…
My best option for water shoes are Keens (click here to check the price on Amazon). In fact, that’s what my kids have always used.
Not only are they versatile (so I don’t have to buy multiple pairs of shoes each summer), but they hold up well and keep my kids’ feet safe – both the bottoms and the toes.
And with the velcro and elastic closure, they’re easy enough for my kids to put on independently but secure enough that they won’t fall off.
What terrain will your kids’ water shoes be exploring this season?