Our round up of the best water shoes for kids and the best waterproof sandals for children: kids water shoes for paddling pools, water slides and garden sprinklers! Updated 2020
Summer has well and truly arrived and with it the entertainment of choice for the warmest months: water!
From paddling pools in the garden to full-on water parks, it is hard to beat splashing around when it comes to kids fun and who can blame them?
After months wrapped up in jumpers and coats, being able to splash in the sun is a very special treat.
Kids don’t need much to enjoy this simple fun: swimming togs and sunscreen are all that is really required.
However, in certain situations, it is useful to have some additional gear and one thing we have grown very fond of are water shoes aka aqua shoes or pool shoes.
They come in several shapes and colors, they have sizes that go from very small to adults and they are a small handy object to use in summer at home and when traveling.
This is our round-up of the best water shoes for kids and some suggestions on waterproof sandals for safe and comfortable days around water.
Looking for great kids gear? Then you may also like:
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Please always check manufacturer specs before purchasing.
The best kids water shoes for pools and beach
No time to read the article? These are our top picks:
- Keen sandals (great all round summer sandal)
- Fresko Toddler water shoes(great for the beach)
- Pediped(best water shoes for kids with wide feet)
- Teva Tidepool (best water shoes with velcro)
What are water shoes and aqua shoes?
Water shoes, also called aqua shoes, are shoes that are made to be used in and around water.
They usually consist of a sturdy sole with a decent grip and a mesh top and their job is to protect the feet when walking on slippery surfaces such as poolside and from the hard edges of rocks or seashells in the sea.
They are ‘water’ or ‘aqua’ shoes in the sense that they can go in water and not in the sense that they are waterproof: the feet inside them get wet but they are protected from abrasions and possible cuts.
Do you need water shoes for kids?
Simple summer fun such as splashing about doesn’t need a lot of gear but I can think of many situations when a pair of water shoes come in handy.
At the most basic level, my kids use them when using the paddling pool in the garden.
When playing, they go in and out of water, run on the grass and often up and down the garden stairs… which is where problems begin!
As careful as they can be, wet feet make steps slippery and while no gear can replace caution, there is no doubt that adding a good grip sole has helped to minimize the number of slips and accidents.
At the pool, the shoes come even handier as they protect the feet no just from slippery surfaced but also from roasting hot ones and germs (a good reason to wear water shoes in winter in pools too).
Most of all, the best water shoes for kids protect little feet from the hazard of the beach and the seafloor.
Especially if your children, like mine, are used to having their feet protected by closed shoes most of the year, they may be over sensitive to hot sand and pebble beaches.
More weathered feet can find benefits from protective water shoes as the shoes form a barrier against:
- Hot sand
- Slippery and pointy rocks
- Broken shells
- Stingy water creatures they may not see
Are water shoes better than sandals?
Watershoes and sandals are designed for two different purposes so you need one or the other depending on what your plans for the summer are.
If your kids will mostly be walking on dry land, with only the occasional splash of water, sandals are probably the best option.
Some are waterproof and can take the occasional spillage of water but they can be a pain (literally, wet sandals give horrible blisters) so be careful with them.
Sandals that are not built for water tend to stay wet for very long, keeping feet excessively cold and prone to blisters.
Also, they may soak up water to such an extent to become heavy and this can make your child very tired very quickly.
Aqua shoes, on the other hand, are designed specifically for use in water and can often double up as everyday shoes, although some models are more versatile than others look wise.
The best pool shoes for kids also double up as every day and garden shows, giving you the most protection and comfort for your money!
Water shoes, water socks, water sandals, swim shoes for kids: are they the same thing?
On the market, you will find several types of water aqua shoes:
Water socks, swim shoes for kids: usually tight-fitting, with a light sole. This type of aqua shoe is designed mostly for water sports (kayak etc) and doesn’t offer a lot of sole protection.
Water shoes: these are the type described above, with a sturdy sole and mesh on top.
They are closed toe and are made of quick-dry material on top, usually mash, and normally have a reinforced toe string.
When open at the front they may be referred to as water sandals.
What to look for when choosing the best kids water shoes for the summer
I usually look at 3 things:
Use: where will the kids use them? Will the be pool shoes, beach, garden shoes, a little bit of everything? How sturdy does the sole need to be?
Grip: if what you are hoping for is a good grip, make sure the sole is up for the job.
With very young walkers, make sure you also take into account how delicate small feet are and how appropriate the sole is.
Especially if your kids are likely to wear these shoes a lot, get water shoes that are safe for young walkers and are built with feet position and posture in mind.
Material: water shoes and sandals come in several materials from mash to plastic.
Depending on your child, pick a material you think they will find comfortable: my kids find plastic bands too sore and blister-inducing but they to find crocs and mesh water shoes super comfortable. If in doubt, go for mesh as it’s the softest on the feet.
The best watershoes for kids: favorite brands
This is our selection of favorite brands making water shoes for little ones.
Please note: the details are as per manufactures specs while the opinions on each type of shoe and brand are our own.
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Fresko kids water shoes: best toddler beach shoes
Fresko makes lovely aquashoes for toddlers, available in several shapes and sizes.
These shoes are cute, sturdy and flexible, they fit nicely around the foot and are snug enough to keep sand away.
This was a lifesaver for us as our daughter refused to stand or sit on sand if it touched her skin at all!
They are made of breathable material and they are machine washable, which is, of course, a plus:
- Rubber sole for good traction
- Neoprene, quick dry upper
- Comfortable secure fit
- Machine washable
- Heel pull tab
- Available in several colors, styles and sizes
Speedo Surfwalker Pro 2.0 Kids Water Shoe for water sports
These are good quality aquashoes for kids designed to protect the sole of the feet while doing water sports.
These shoes come in several colors and sizes including toddlers and older kids, they are lightweight and offer good protection.
I like these kids aqua shoes for the pool and the garden: they are great for going in and out a paddling pool!
- Easy to use strap for easy on/off
- Lightweight breathable material
- S-trac thermoplastic rubber outsole
- Double Four Way Strech Textile Upper
Crocs water shoes for kids
I have resisted buying crocs for the longest time, not being fond of their look, but ever since we got a loan of a pair from a friend, the kids have been hooked.
They simply adore their crocs.
They wear them during the winter in the pool, use them as hotel shoes with and without socks when we travel and they use them endlessly in water, may it be the sea, the pool or the paddling pool.
Crocs have some advantages:
- They come in several shapes and colors and are hugely versatile
- Kids find them very comfortable
- They are durable and wash easily
Teva sandals for kids
Teva sandals are a firm favorite for many because they work both as an everyday sandal and water play shoe.
They come in several shapes and you can choose between open toe and close toe, which is a great alternative if you are looking for a versatile shoe you can carry on you travel and use in several environments.
Depending on use, you can choose the Teva Tidepool sandal, perfect for water or hiking sandals (less comfortable in water but they can still take it).
I use Teva sandals myself and find them excellent for support too: I use them as my travel sandals and they are great for walking and the beach too.
Teva water sandals for kids have:
- Good grip synthetic sole
- Breathable mesh upper keeps the feet cool and comfortable
- EVA foam foot bed cushions and softly supports for all-day comfort
- Several colors and style available (boys and girls)
Keens kids sandals
Keen has a great selection of kids sandals ranging from pool sandals to hiking ones that can resist water.
They come in a variety of colors and sizes and get raving reviews from many parents thanks to the quality of the materials and versatility.
What we love the most about Keens is that they work well as an all-round summer shoe.
Keen sandals specs:
- Textile and Synthetic
- Secure fit lace capture system
- EVA footbed
- Non-marking rubber outsole
See kai run water shoes for kids
Another great brand catering for toddlers and young kids (up to 8 y.o.), these shoes are comfortable and versatile, offering the extra advantage of a closed toe for extra protection.
They are good walking shoes and great for water play too: they come in several colors and shapes.
See Kai specs:
- Sporty closed-toe sandal in durable, water-friendly materials
- Generous toe box promotes healthy foot development
- Rubber outsole designed for traction and flexibility
- Two points of hook-and-loop adjustability for a custom fit
Pediped flex water sandals
Pediped are another great name for water shoes and are particularly suited to kids with wider feet, since they are built with a larger sole
They are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association and while we never tried them ourselves, we have friends who swear by them and so we decided to include them in this roundup.
- Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association
- Flexible rubber sole
- Breathable neoprene lining
- Machine washable
Seasox water shoes
Another reliable brand for kids water shoes is Sea Sox, catering for toddlers, ‘Little kids’ and ‘Big kids’.
Their water shoes are of good quality, wear well in water and they come with an adjustable strap that helps to secure them.
Sea Sox specs:
- They are extremely durable, light weight, and comfortable.
- Perfect to wear playing sports, exercising, or at the beach, pool, etc .
- Mesh material dries quickly and protects the feet from dirt.
Native water shoes for kids
Last but not least, we must include Native shoes for kids, a great brand making washable, odor resistant shoes for children.
While I personally don’t love their look, I do like the philosophy behind the brand which makes shes that are animal by-product free.
Native shoes specs:
- They come in a lot of different styles and colors
- Easy to put on and take off.
- Machine washable
- They are flexible, super lightweight, and comfortable.
- They are odor-resistant
I hope you found this round-up of the best water shoes and water-resistant sandals for kids useful. Have a wonderful summer!