Best Kids Water Shoes for Toddlers

As a mom of two active boys, I know the struggle of finding the best water shoes that can withstand all the splashing, running, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re planning a beach vacation, a day at the pool, or simply looking for some practical footwear for water play in the backyard, water shoes are a must-have item for your little ones.

Not all water activities are created equal, and neither are the shoes needed for them. Depending on the environment and the type of water play your child will be engaged in, there are various types of water shoes to consider.

For instance, if your child will be exploring rocky beaches or riverbeds, you’ll want to find water shoes with sturdy soles that provide protection against sharp rocks or uneven surfaces. On the other hand, if you’re heading to a sandy beach, a pair of lightweight and quick-drying sandals might be the way to go, allowing for maximum comfort and breathability.

Young boy wearing blue water shoes / water socks next to a pool.

Water Shoes vs. Water Socks vs. Water Sandals

There are three main types of water shoes – water shoes, water sandals, and water socks. Each of the three has its own advantages and disadvantages and you should choose according to your child’s needs. Here’s a word or two about each.

Regardless of the type, all water shoes allow water in and out of the shoes immediately. They help the water drain out from the shoes allowing them to be quick-drying.

Water Shoes

This is the most basic type of water-friendly footwear. Shoes of this type commonly have rubber soles and fabric or mesh uppers. They dry significantly quicker than standard shoes and some models are machine washable. Water shoes usually have a better grip than socks, are heavier than water socks and not great for swimming.

Water Sandal

They are construction-wise close to shoes but have more openings, just like regular toddler sandals. Like the previous type, they’re mostly made of a combination of rubber soles and polyester/fabric/mesh uppers. Sandals are a good option for averagely active toddlers.

Water Socks

This is the lightest type of water-oriented footwear. They’re the most flexible of the three, sporting thin soles and lightweight uppers usually made of mesh. Aqua socks are a good solution for fussy infants and toddlers, and those with sensitive feet. They are also the least resilient of the three.

Water socks have historically been used by snorkelers and surfers for protection and insulation in the water, whereas water shoes tend to be favored for hanging out on a rocky shore or moving between land and water, but increasingly people are using them for wild swimming and kayaking too.

Crocs

Can kids wear Crocs as water shoes? Yes, Crocs are slip-resistant and are unable to absorb moisture, which makes great water shoes. However, they don’t provide a super secure fit and might track dirt into pools, so if you can pick something different. They work for general low-key play where you might enter water though.

Lady sitting on a rock with two children wearing the best blue water shoes.

Best Toddler Water Shoes

Best Kids Water Shoes for Pool: Nerteo

Nerteo are great simple and affordable water shoes for all types of feet. The only openings are on top rather than near the toes, which can help with sand or rocks not getting inside.

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They held up surprisingly well and thanks to velcro they’re offering a comfortable fit and work for chubby or slim feet.

  • Synthetic sole
  • Soft outing
  • Foldable & flexible

Best Water Sandals for Kids: Dream Pairs

Water-ready polyester webbing strands that Dream Pairs water sandals are made of make for quick drying. They can look great with dresses if you’re looking for girl water shoes, but also work as boy water shoes in a different color scheme as they’re unisex.

They’re not recommended for wearing in a pool as they’re not slip-resistant, but the sole is sturdy for everyday running around or jumping into the creek with occasional water just perfect.

If your child has bigger feet, I can also recommend Teva Hurricane as they dry quicker, but unfortunately, their sizing starts from Toddler 8.

  • Sole sturdy for hiking
  • Adjustable straps
Parent next to child dressed in colorful water socks and swimming goggles.

Best Toddler Water Socks for Swimming: Bigib Aqua Socks

Comfy water socks from Bigib are a must for toddlers. The low cost is great because you know how fast little feet grow and the rubber soles are non-slip, so can be used at pools.

These have always been our favorite water socks, as they’re comfortable and funny looking which added a special wow factor for the kids. Both my sons were able to put them on by themselves easily as they’re stretchy.

  • Lightweight
  • Soft outer
  • Foldable & flexible

Best Water Shoes for Hiking: Keen

Keen has earned their reputation for their line of water shoes and sandals for kids for a good reason, they’re the best. They’re not exactly cheap, so unless you’re planning on having a very active outdoor summer there are cheaper options.

Machine washability is a lifesaver when it comes to kids, so there’s no need to worry about them getting nasty. We love these shoes, but I will say that just like with any other water shoes or sandals that aren’t socks rocks might get inside through the opening and my older son gets annoyed by it.

  • Machine washable
  • Secure fit lace capture system
  • Most durable

Infant & Baby Swim Shoes: Apolter Baby

These little water shoes are so colorful and adorable for new walkers. They stretch and fit fine and don’t cost an arm and leg for a child who will probably wear them a few times before growing out of them.

Can be worn at splash pads, in and around the pool, or in muddy gardens. They’re easily washable in the sink and dry quickly.

  • In-built toe protection
  • Extremely bendy for little feet
  • Anti-slip for all surfaces

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