When you’re a parent, you know how important it is to keep your kids happy and healthy. One of the best ways to do that is by making sure they have the right shoes.

According to a recent study, children who wear the wrong shoes can be at increased risk for injuries and even death. The study also found that there was no correlation between shoe size and foot size, meaning that even if your child has big feet, they don’t necessarily need big shoes!

We’ve written this post to help you find the best shoes for kids’ feet so you can make sure your little one has the proper support no matter what they’re doing.

Best Shoes For Kids’ Feet

9 Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids (durable + comfortable)

9 Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids (durable + comfortable)

The best barefoot shoes for kids have thin, flexible soles and a wide toe-box. This allows a child to naturally develop strong, healthy feet!

Most parents, doctors and experts would agree, barefoot is best for babies learning to walk. Learning to walk while barefoot helps grow stronger muscles in the foot and doesn’t interfere with the natural, healthy walking and running gait. Plus, being barefoot means more sensory messages are being sent to a growing child’s brain that is learning all about their new and ever-changing environment.

When your baby starts walking literally everywhere and you need to put a little protection on their feet, there are quite a few companies making cute soft leather barefoot baby shoes and moccasins. But once they start hitting those toddler sizes, many major shoe brands introduce stiff soles and narrow toe boxes. Wearing shoes that are flat, flexible and wide is just as important for toddlers and kids as it is for babies!

I started wearing barefoot and minimalist hiking shoes several years ago, and as I learned more about the benefits of barefoot shoes, I began buying barefoot toddler shoes for my son. Thankfully, over the last several years there has been a lot of growth in the market with companies offering great barefoot shoes for kids and toddlers. We’ve been testing out kid’s barefoot shoes for four years. This post includes our personal reviews and top recommendations of the best barefoot shoes for kids and toddlers.  I’ve also included coupon codes for most shoes so you can get an extra 10% off.

The end of this post includes a more extensive list with healthy, barefoot, and minimalist kids shoe brands that are available online and offer shipping within or to the US. If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in my top recommendations, check out the list as the end. All these shoes are great too, and as every foot and situation is different, you may find something there that is a better fit for your child.

The soles of barefoot shoes for kids are foot shaped and flexible

Soles should be foot shaped and flexible

Why should kids wear barefoot shoes?

Many foot issues like bunions, hammer toes, weak arches, or just overall weak feet are caused by wearing shoes that too narrow, have too much cushion, and don’t allow the feet to move naturally. Feet have muscles too – over 29 of them! Wearing minimal, foot-shaped shoes means these muscles can grow and develop properly, helping children to avoid developing foot issues caused by unhealthy shoes.

Having comfortable, flexible shoes that allow our feet and body to move naturally is important at any age. Wearing barefoot shoes means that toddlers and kids can continue to develop a natural walking and running gait, and keep their sensory connection to the world beneath their feet.

The end of this post includes a more extensive list with every healthy, barefoot, and minimalist kids shoe brand I know. If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in my top recommendations, check out the list as the end. All these shoes are great too, and as every foot and situation, there may be something there that is a better fit for your child.

Looking for other types of barefoot shoes for kids? Check out these posts here:

Child wearing Splay Shoes, barefoot shoes for kids

Splay Athletics barefoot kids shoes are flexible, zero-drop and perfect for exploring. Use code KELLY10 for 10% off.

What to look for in Barefoot Shoes for Kids

1 Wide Toe Box – Look for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot, including the toes. There should be enough room for all of those little toes to wiggle.

2 Thin, Flexible Soles – Soles should provide protection, but still allow for a sensory connection to the ground beneath and easy movement.

3 Flat – A flat sole means no raised heels or toe springs. Sometimes this is referred to as zero-drop, meaning there is no difference in the stack height of the sole from front to back. This allows the feet to rest flat as they do when barefoot, without changing or straining the body into an unnatural position.

Barefoot vs Minimalist Shoes

Sometimes I’ll use the terms barefoot or minimalist interchangeably. In my opinion, the difference between a true barefoot shoe and a minimalist shoe is usually a little extra cushion or a slight heel drop of a few millimeters. My main focus is to find the healthiest shoes for kids that allows their feet to develop naturally.

Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids and Toddlers

1 SPLAY ATHLETICS EXPLORE

Canvas + microfiber uppers | Velcro | Sizes US8/EU24 to Adult | Starting at $44 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off

Splay Athletics Barefoot Shoes for Kids | the Little Kids Loco shoe

Splay Athletics has focused on making one shoe for the last several years, and making it really well. After testing out a number of barefoot shoes for kids, this one is an everyday favorite. The Splay Athletics shoe strikes the right balance between durability and flexibility, comfort, and it’s easy to put on. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable options out there (and with code KELLY10, you get 10% off!). Sizing starts at US8 (or EU24), so that means even toddlers can start wearing these shoes!

The Splay Explore has a clean, simple design made of cotton canvas and microfiber, and feels so well made. It’s a true barefoot shoe with a wide toe box, zero drop platform and super flexible sole. It has a velcro strap and the tongue pulls back, so it’s easy for kids to put on this shoe all by themselves.

It can be hard to find the right balance between flexibility and durability for a barefoot sole, and I think Splay got it just right. My son has had four pairs of Splay Shoes as he’s continued to grow, and all of them have held up well to a lot of outdoor use.

Fit + Sizing

These shoes are a bit on the narrow end overall (even with a wide toe box), so if your child has wide feet you may want to size up. My son’s feet are average width and volume and he has no problem with these shoes. Splay has a sizing guide on its website to help you get the right fit.

➳ Code KELLY10 for 10% off

➳ Shop Now: Splay Athletics

Splay Athletics Barefoot Shoes for Kids | the Little Kids Loco shoe
Splay Athletics Barefoot Shoes for Kids | the Little Kids Loco shoe

2 SPLAY ATHLETICS FREESTYLE

Splay Freestyle Adult Barefoot Shoes

Canvas uppers | Laces | Size US8/EU24 to Adult | From $55 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off
After much anticipation, Splay Athletics launched its second shoe design during summer 2021 that now includes both kid’s and adult sizing. The Freestyle is a low cut lace up sneaker that uses the same materials and shape for the sole as the Explore, which means they’re just as flexible and durable. The uppers are soft and breathable cotton canvas. We’ve come to know and love the Splay Athletics Explore shoes over the last few years, and the Freestyle is basically a grown up version of the same shoe.

Splay has focused on making their shoes affordable, which is hard to find in the barefoot shoe market. The Freestyle is $55 for children’s sizes and $70 for adult sizes.

➳ Code KELLY10 for 10%

Splay Freestyle Barefoot Sneakers for Kids
Splay Freestyle Barefoot Sneakers for Kids

3 WILDLING KIDS SHOES

Various uppers | Laces or Elastic Pull | Size US2.5/EU18 to Adult | From $69

Wildling Barefoot Shoes


Wildling is a small company out of Cologne, Germany that only makes barefoot shoes, both for children and adults. Germany has been a leader in the forest school movement, which seeks to immerse children in a natural environment, and Wildling shoes feed perfectly into this. These shoes are the closest to being barefoot with a super flexible, 2.5mm sole; they allow children to develop a greater sensory connection to the world around them, bringing a child and its environment back together.

Wildling uses sustainable, innovative materials in its shoe line-up including organic recycled cotton, linen, hemp, and wool.

My son absolutely loves his “fox” shoes as he calls them. We’ve been wearing Wildlings for over three years and have worn their full range, from lightweight summer models to warmer wool winter boots. A few of our everyday barefoot shoe favorites for kids from Wildling include the Tanukis (made of a special paper-type material from Japan called Washi), the Nebula (made from a very breathable merino wool knit), and from the 2022 Spring/Summer collection, the Saker (made from 100% recycled cotton canvas).

While these shoes all may be incredibly lightweight, they’re really durable too (you can check out how well the Nebulas held up in this Instagram post here. All of the Wildlings my son has worn have been the best barefoot shoes for active toddlers and kids.

I also have a pair of Wilding shoes from the company’s adult barefoot line ReWild, and they are the closest thing I’ve experienced to being barefoot. The 2.5mm outersole is just enough protection and there’s a thin layer of cushion for comfort. I love the full sensory connection to the ground; my feet have never been so happy in a pair of shoes.

Fit + Sizing

Wildling shoes starts and size US Baby 2.5 (EU 18) and go through adult. To determine the appropriate size, use Wildling’s printable FitKit on its website. Just make sure your scale is set to 100%. I find that most Wildlings fit TTS. Some models (like Tanuki and Nebula) have a snugger fit, while others have a looser fit (like the Mundaca from Fall 2021 or the Manul from SS22.) However, the size difference hasn’t been enough to move up or down a size.

Wildling does offer a first return free, so you can return and reorder if the sizing wasn’t right for you or your child.

➳ Shop Now: Shop Wildling US | Wildling International

Wildling Shoes - Barefoot Kids and Toddler Shoes
Wildling Shoes - Barefoot Kids and Toddler Shoes

4 XERO SHOES PRIO

Mesh and Vegan Leather uppers | Laces | Size US 12 to Adult | From $69.99

Xero Shoes Barefoot Shoes for Kids

Xero Shoes expanded into barefoot shoes for kids with a smaller version of its most popular shoe, the Prio Running and Fitness Shoe. This is a great all-around shoe with a wide toe box and thin, flexible sole. The vegan exterior materials are light by really sturdy. This is the best option if you’re looking for a great barefoot hiking shoe for kids.

The Xero Shoes Prio use the company’s signature FeelTrue rubber that provides adequate protection but still allows you to feel the ground underneath.

5 VIVOBAREFOOT PRIMUS KIDS AND PRIMUS JUNIOR

Various uppers | Velcro, Elastic Pull, or Laces | Size US5/EU20 to Adult | From $60 | Code NMB10 for 10% off

Vivobarefoot Primus Junior - Barefoot Kid Shoes

Vivobarefoot is one of the most prominent names in barefoot shoes. Its kids’ shoes all have soles that are thin, wide, flat and bendy to promote the natural foot development. Vivobarefoot has a wide range of styles in its kids’ barefoot shoe line up, including active, every day, sandals, and boots.

The Primus Kids and the Primus Junior are some of Vivobarefoot’s most popular zero-drop kids’ shoes. The breathable mesh uppers on these lightweight barefoot shoes are made from recycled PET plastic bottles, so they’re cutting down on the amount of new materials that go into their shoes and reducing the plastic that ends up in landfills.  Vivobarefoot also makes sandals, leather boots, and barefoot winter boots for kids.

Vivobarefoot shoes start at US Toddler size 5 (EU 20).Prices range from $60 to sandals to $90 for leather boots (use code NMB10 for 10% off!)

Vivobarefoot Barefoot Shoes for Kids and Toddlers

6 MERRELL BARE STEPS SNEAKERS

Leather, Textile, or Mesh uppers | Velcro | Size US4 to Adult | From $35

Merrell Baresteps Minimalist Shoes for Kids

Even if you’re new to barefoot shoes, you’ve probably already heard of Merrell since they’re such a big name in hiking shoes and boots. While Merrell’s typical hikers can be a bit clunky, the shoes in the Kids Bare Steps line are stripped down to the barefoot basics. The Bare Steps Sneakers have a soft suede and textile upper that’s flexible, plus an extra wide toe box. The sole is minimal, but it is a bit thicker than others on this list, like Wildlings and Splay Athletics. The Merrell Bare Steps line features sneakers, water shoes, hikers, and boots.

Every style in this barefoot line is made of 45% recycled materials. They start at size US Toddler 4, so they’re great for kids just learning  how to walk. The line starts at $35, so these are some of the most affordable barefoot shoes for kids. I’ve often seen the on sale too, both on the Merrell website and Amazon.

Once kids size out of the Bare Steps line, Merrell offers the Vapor Glove for minimalist adult shoes.

Putting on Merrell Baresteps Barefoot Shoes for Kids
Merrell Baresteps Barefoot Shoes for Kids
Merrell Baresteps Barefoot Shoes for Kids

7 MUKISHOES

Canvas, wool or leather uppers | Velcro or Elastic Pull | Size US8/EU24 to Adult | From €69 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off

Mukishoes hightop barefoot sneakers for kids

MukiShoes was founded in 2019 by Madlen and Marta, whose goal was to create a minimalist shoe out of natural materials that looked great. Mukishoes uses local, organic and fair-trade materials as much as possible. The shoes are manufactured in Portugal, which is where the company is located.

Mukishoes launched its kids line in late 2020, and they’re just as high quality as the adult shoes. For summer, the cute and colorful sneakers are made with cotton, hemp or leather uppers. The 2.5mm natural rubber sole is super flexible and overall the shoes are extremely light. These shoes are easy for kids to put on themselves with either double velcro or adjustable elastic laces that pull tight.

Winter shoes are usually made with wool, leather, or cork leather.

These shoes can accommodate higher volume feet. I compared these to the Splay Shoes in the same size, and my son had more room around the ankles and the top. So if your child needs something a bit roomier, Mukishoes are a great option!

➳ Code KELLY10 for 10% off

➳ Shop Now: MukiShoes Kids

Easy velcro on minimalist shoes for kids
Mukishoes Woozle play are barefoot shoes with fun pops of color!
Easy velcro on minimalist shoes for kids

8 BE LENKA PLAY KIDS BAREFOOT SHOES

Belenka Play Kids Barefoot Shoes

Leather uppers | Velcro | Size US9/EU25 to Adult | From €69 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off on PedTerra
Be Lenka was founded in 2017 by Lenka Cenigova, a former long jump Paralympian that is passionate about barefoot shoes. Be Lenka offers a few different version of their original kids shoe, the Be Lenka Play. They mostly have the same fit and shape, but vary from low, mid to high top. There also offer the Joy, with a textile and mesh upper, as well as snow boots.

The Play is a high top sneaker with a 6 mm flexible sole that allows the foot to move and bend naturally. These shoes are handmade in Europe with nubuck leather. Be Lenka added fun pops of color and patterns to their kid’s line, like mango, metallic pink, and rainbow stars.

My son had some hightop Vans a few years ago he really loved before we switched to barefoot shoes, and these really remind me of them, but with a much thinner, more flexible sole and wider toe-box.

PedTerra – US Retailer for BeLenka

If you’re located in the US and want to try these shoes (or several of the other amazing European barefoot brands), then check out the online retailer PedTerra.

The founders of PedTerra realized how difficult it can be to get some of the amazing barefoot shoe brands based out of Europe here in the US – so PedTerra decided to simplify the process by offering free shipping and returns.

With PedTerra, you can easily order from brands like Bundgaard, Be Lenka, and Paper Krane, risk free! Plus you can use code KELLY for 10% off!

If you’re in the US and ordering on the BeLenka website, DHL shipping from Europe to the US will cost between $20 to $30. Be Lenka does NOT accept returns from the US.

➳ Code KELLY for 10% off (on PedTerra)

➳ Shop Now: Be Lenka | PedTerra

9 ORIGO SHOES

Textile, leather, vegan cactus leather uppers | Velcro and Lace-up | Kid’s size 8 to Adult | From $48

Origo Shoes is a brand that recently launched out of Mexico, and took some inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Most of their shoes use leather, or vegan cactus leather harvested in Mexico that is biodegradable, water-resistant and stain-resistant. Their styling is really classic and simple.

Origo kid’s shoes are zero-drop with a wide toe box; they recently released the Gen 2 version of their sneakers, and made them a bit wider and more flexible due to customer feedback. I love barefoot shoe companies that are responsive to feedback and continuously working on improving their shoes.

You can use code KELLY for an additional 10% off.

➳ Code KELLY for 10% off 

➳ Shop Now: Origo Shoes

Origo Minimalist Kids Shoes

10 SOFTSTAR MOCCASINS

Softstar Barefoot Shoes

Leather uppers | Slip on or Laces | Baby US2 to Adult | From $40
Softstar makes butter-soft leather shoes and moccasins with leather soles (for early walkers to be worn mostly indoors) or super-flexible Vibram Pyramid soles made for outdoor use.

Every shoe is handcrafted in Softstar’s Oregon workshop, and many of the shoes can be customized with different colors. The customizability of these shoes continues with its sizing, where you can order narrow, regular, wide, or extra wide width shoes (check out the Softstar sizing information here). It can be difficult to find properly fitting shoes for children with wider feet, so Softstars are especially great for them!

I opted for Softstar’s Rugged Rambler for my son which comes with a thicker 9 mm sole – we walk plenty of rocky, dirt trails, and I wanted something more rugged that would stand up to this kind of use. It’s held up really well, making me think the slightly thinner 6 mm sole would be really durable too. Even though the sole on the Rugged Rambler is a bit thicker, it is still extremely flexible. The Ramblers are easy for toddlers to pull on themselves as there aren’t any ties or strap. If you want to add more cushion and warmth, Softstar sells removable sheepskin innersoles specifically made for its shoes.

While most companies making moccasins stop at early walker sizes, Softstars sizing goes from Baby Size 2 (0 – 6 months) all the way up to youth size 6. For both kids and adults, Softstar has the PRIMAL RunAmoc, a barefoot lace-up athletic shoe with leather uppers and a 5mm Vibram Trail Sole.

Most baby and toddler moccasins are priced from $40 to $50. The Youth PRIMAL RunAmoc is $110.

Softstar Barefoot Shoes - Soft leather shoes
Flexible Softar Barefoot Shoes

Other minimalist kids shoes to check out (in Alpha order)

The list above represents my top recommendations for barefoot and minimalist kids shoes, but I wanted to include a more comprehensive list of all of the healthy shoes for kids.

** One of my favorite places to shop for barefoot kids shoes is the online retailer PedTerra. They carry a lot of small, amazing European brands, and offer free shipping and free returns in the US. You can use code KELLY for 10% off your purchase at PedTerra.

Anatomic Shoes – Anatomic both offers super affordable barefoot shoes for kids! These linked ones are $18! Use Code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

Bobux – Soft sole moccasins through big kid shoes. Bobux are more of a minimal shoes vs a barefoot shoe, meaning their wider and more flexible than most traditional shoes, but not as much as most of the barefoot shoes on this list.

Baby Bare – Make sneakers, sandals, and boots with high quality Italian leather. Despite baby in the name, these wide, minimalist shoes go up to US Big Kid 2/EU33. Use code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

Bar3foot – Cotton canvas barefoot sneakers for kids. Use code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

Bisgaard – Cute and function barefoot shoes for kids. The uppers are made from cotton or wool, and feature a large velcro strap to secure the feet. The bottom has a rubber sole inlay, making these very minimal and flexible toddler shoes. These kids barefoot shoes are available from online retailer PedTerra, which offers free shipping and free returns in the US. Use code KELLY for 10% off at PedTerra.

Cat & Jack Toddler Parker Sneakers  – This Target brand makes a pair of canvas velcro sneakers called they Toddler Parker Sneakers. They’re reasonably wide, and incredibly affordable at $10 for a pair.

Etsy – I’ve found several Etsy retailers that hand make minimalist leather shoes for kids. While some only go to toddler sizes, others go up to bigger kids sizes (Ebooba’s largest is for 7-8 year olds). When you’re searching Etsy, look for shoes that are thin, flat and flexible. Here are a few Etsy Shops to check out:

  • Ebooba 
  • DancewearByJay
  • Soft Walker Shoes
  • Starry Knight

Feelmax – Finnish brand with kid’s shoes start at size EU24. Shoes are reasonably priced (under €40), but shipping to US is around €30.

Foot Buddy Kid’s Shoes – Children’s barefoot shoes in Toddler sizes 8-12. Prioritize durability with large toe bumper and slightly thicker soles. Retail is $39. Use coupon code 12KELLY12 for 12% off on Amazon.

Freet – British brand with wide shoes starting at size EU 30. Use Code KELLY-10 for 10% off.

Froddo – Shoes start at baby US 1 and go up through big kids. Full line of leather sneakers, sandals and boots. Use code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

Jack & Lily – affordable baby, toddler and kids barefoot shoes.

Magical Shoes – Polish company that ships barefoot kids shoes worldwide (shipping to the US is only $7). The kids sizing is mostly leather moccasin-style shoes, while the adult sizes feature more traditional-looking (but very minimal) sneakers, casual shoes and boots.

PaperKrane – Kids barefoot shoe company from Australia known for their fun, brightly colored designs. Code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

Saguaro – Wide water shoes (they make overall great summer shoes) that start at size US7.5. Available on Amazon.

Skinners – Skinners are more like durable socks than shoes, but they are a great option for a kid that needs no fuss footwear. They’re machine washable and have a 500 mile life span.

Ten Little Sneakers – Affordable barefoot shoes for kids that have simple, classic styling. They have vegan leather and canvas sneakers as well as sandals and rain boots.

Tikki Shoes – Leather and vegan leather wide kids shoes and sandals made in Romania.

Tough Little Piggies – Flexible moccasins with reinforced toe boxes for durability.

Zeazoo – Girl’s barefoot shoes, sandals and boots in bright, bold colors. Use code KELLY for 10% off on PedTerra.

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