11 Best Toddler Water Shoes 2021 [Aqua Socks, Sandals, Sneakers + Hiking]!

toddler water shoes

Toddler water shoes are a must have! Toddler's like to jump in puddles, go from the picnic table to the pool, or park to the beach in a blink of an eye and they need shoes that can keep up with their adventurous spirit!

Parents can appreciate the benefits of toddler water shoes like added comfort and safety measures (slip resistance) to boys and girls that are poolside, beachside, on a boat, or hiking. These are our absolute favorite in general since they'll meet most families needs and then some!

Discover our best toddler water shoe picks, how to choose the best water shoes for your toddler, and tips for cleaning water shoes!

Best Toddler Water Shoes: Keen Stingray Closed Toe Sandals

We love Keen's Closed Toe Toddler Water Sandals! They offer the benefits of a sneaker AND a sandal which is a total win-win!

They work perfectly to protect toddler's feet in streams, rocky tidal pools, or on slippery wet decks thanks to the aquagrip rubber soles with maximum traction. These are durable enough that you can even wear them on a hike, however they didn't win our “best water shoe for hiking” due to the opening that sticks could poke through.

They are lightweight and built with lateral support to stabilize toddler's ankles and heels while wearing in or out of the water. The EVA footbed with arch support provides a little more stability too, which is important if wearing on rocky, wet terrains.

Parent's will love them because they are machine washable and feature an adjustable hook-and-loop strap for easy on and off that fosters independence in toddlers.

Plus they come in over a dozen colors.

Pros
  • Good for wide feet
  • Adjustable hook-and-loop strap
  • Water resistant + quick drying
  • Closed toe
  • Lightweight + supportive
  • Machine washable
  • Tons of colors
Cons
  • Some suggest sizing up if between sizes

Most Budget Friendly Girls + Boys Water Shoes: CIOR Mesh Toddlers Water Shoes

If you're looking for the most affordable boys and girls water shoes, then you'll love these toddler aqua socks with rubber sole! They are a hybrid sneaker and water sock option that makes them great for in the water or walking along beach side rocks.

Parent's will love that they are easy to clean and quick to dry (no stinky mildew smell!). Because of their aqua sock style opening, it's noteworthy they may come off occasionally in water if they are a little big on your child. If you prefer the brand has a velcro strap style too.

They come in over 6 colors from white, black, red, purple, pink, blue, and yellow too!

Pros
  • Budget friendly
  • Anti-slip rubber sole
  • Quick dry mesh
  • Lightweight
  • Closed toe
Cons
  • Many complained they arrived smelling like chemicals

Most Adjustable Sizing: Nike Sunray Adjust 5 Toddler Water Sandals

The Nike Sunray Adjust 5 will keep up with your toddler in the water or on land! We LOVE that the top and heel have an adjustable velcro strap, ensuring the perfect for wide or growing feet that won't slip off.

We love how lightweight these are and the flexible foam provides a durable cushion fit that will last. The phylon midsole and contour inside keep the foot from slipping in the shoe.

The outer sole has rubber pods for added traction and durability too. Plus they are quick dry and come in 5 colors:

Pros
  • Adjustable top and heel strap
  • Five colors for boys and girls
  • Comfortable fit
Cons
  • One parent felt they needed to be more slip proof

Best Waterproof Sneaker: Native Jefferson Water Friendly Sneaker 

If you're looking for a waterproof sneaker your toddler can wear year round (at least in Florida, I wouldn't wear these in snow); then look no further than the Native Jefferson Sneaker! We personally own at least 6 pairs of these. A couple of which are actually hand me downs from friends that have lasted their two kids! So these babies are DURABLE! They don't even smell after 5+ years of wear amongst the three kids!

They are made from a lightweight foam and have a rubber sole. The toes are closed, but there are holes that allow for water to flow out, fast drying, and breathability. You can wear them with or without socks too. Toddlers generally have no problem getting these on and off themselves (small learning curve) which is great for fostering independence in getting themselves dressed!

These come in just about every color and style you could want. From tradition mono-tone that resemble a converse, to sparkly, to iridescent shine, to fun prints. You'll have to check Amazon, Nordstrom, or Zappos to see which styles they have stocked in your kids size.

Pros
  • Fast drying
  • Durable
  • Odor resistant
  • Easy on and off
  • Closed Toe
Cons
  • They say these are easy to clean, but I find them to be more moderate to clean and if you get lax with it, they can be harder to clean
  • Some reviews report receiving fake Natives via Amazon
  • Material may cause irritation to sensitive feet

Best Toddler Aqua Socks: Bigib Toddler Swim Shoes

If you're looking for the lightest weight swim shoes for infants or young toddlers, these make a great option. While they technically have a rubber sole, they are designed to truly feel like a sock so we wouldn't recommend them for rocks or standing in hot sand for long periods of time dry.

They are made from a quick dry moisture wicking material, so parent's shouldn't have to worry about wet aqua socks sitting on their child's skin causing irritation.

We love that these come in 12 playful prints ranging from dinosaurs, whales, unicorns, sea turtles, octopi, and more:

They did have some quality issues a few years ago, where a handful of people reported the water shoes falling apart after a month; as a result they updated their listing to say “we promise to exchange, return or whatever it takes if there are any size/quality issues.”

Pros
  • Lightest weight option
  • Rubber sole
  • Quick dry
  • Budget friendly
Cons
  • Not great for rocks or extended wear on hot terrains
  • Some reviewers reported the water shoes smelling or falling apart quickly

Best Patterns For Boys + Girls: nerteo

We are huge fans of these cute toddler water shoe options! They are made from a soft material that keeps feet comfortable in and out of the water, and dries quickly.

We prefer their hook-and-loop velcro closure to the aqua sock opening if you plan to actually use these as swim shoes since they allow you to adjust for a slightly firmer fit in the water (less likely to slip off). The rubber sole is durable, while still being lightweight.

These are also machine washable and have a padded and removable sock liner. They also have one of the easier sizing guides we've come across for toddler water shoes.

Plus they come in some fantastic prints from sharks, whales, dinosaurs, mermaids, unicorns, and more!

Pros
  • Adjustable closure for more secure fit
  • Good for wide feet
  • Great in and out of water
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Some reviewers reported the water shoes smelling or falling apart quickly

Best Aqua Sock Sneaker Hybrid: Crocs Water Shoes For Toddlers

Crocs know a thing or two about shoes and their Swiftwater Easy On Toddler Water Shoes are no exception!

We love the aqua sock meets sneaker look from a practical perspective as many toddlers like to go from the park to running in sprinklers. These are a sort of hybrid that offer a little bit of the best of all worlds making them the perfect summer shoe to have in your toddler's closet.

With that said, because they are a best overall water shoe, there is some dispute as to what they are best for… some people find them perfect for being poolside (rubber soles keep kids feet from burning), while others didn't find them to be slip resistant enough for that environment. Some suggest sizing up, while others suggest sizing down. If you plan to go in the ocean, or use in real bodies of water, I'd personally suggest sticking with your toddlers actual size or a little snug as aqua sock styles like tend to come off when draining out or can lug a kid down if too large.

Pros
  • Great toddler water shoe for boys or girls
  • Offers a little bit of everything: water resistant, quick dry, rubber sole, mesh top, aqua sock opening
  • Easy on and off fosters independence in toddlers getting themselves dressed
Cons
  • Some dispute on whether they are machine washable
  • Some dispute on whether they are slip-resistant enough for a running toddler on a wet deck

Best For Wide Feet: Speedo Toddler Water Shoes Surf Knit 

Speedo knows what they are doing when it comes to all things water related and their toddler water shoes are no exception!

If you're looking for high quality, durable, and comfortable swim shoes for the whole family, look no further. They are great for wide feet thanks to their neoprene mesh stretchy upper material; which also dries super fast! The rubber soles offer a unique S-TRAC to stream water out of the shoe quickly (i.e. no concerns about them coming off like other aqua sock style water shoes).

Speedo's Surf Knit water shoes actually come in sizes from baby to toddler to little kids, big kids, and adults and over 10 color choices:

Pros
  • Great for water sports or jumping in and out frequently
  • Quick dry mesh material that's also soft and comfortable
  • Wide color selection
  • Easy on and off for toddler independence
Cons
  • Run large

Best For New Walkers: Adidas Toddler Water Shoes  

These Adidas water shoes feature a mesh upper fabric, closed toe rubber tip, and rubber sole for the ultimate in safety, quick drying, breathability, and durability.

We love these for new walkers because of the sock like fit and thin, yet durable, sole. While others on this list do provide more of a “barely there” fit for new walkers, we like the added grip of these from a safety perspective on slippery surfaces.

Pros
  • Rubber closed toe to protect little feets
  • Rubber sole for slip-resistance
  • Mesh upper for breathability and quick drying
Cons
  • Some felt the shoe ran a little wide

Best For Multi-Terrain/Hiking: Merrell Hydro H20 Hiker Sandal Sport 

Merrell is a leader in outdoor footwear and their Hydro H20 Hiker Sandal is a great pick for toddlers!

Unfortunately it's not always the most readily available shoe for toddlers, so as a runner up we suggest the Merrell's Hydro Quench Sandal or Keen Stingray Closed Toe Sandals – the big difference being that the Hydro H20 Hiker option has a mesh layer between the holes to keep sticks/sediment out on hikes, while the Hydro Quench and Keen Stingray do not (but the Quench holes are smaller compared to Keen).

Both the Hydro Hiker and Hydro Quench are a durable sandal featuring a quick dry lining and leather straps. The sole of both shoes are made with an M Select GRIP for some of the best traction/slip resistance in toddler shoes.

While the shoe is easy to get on and off, it's also very secure with elastic laces and a hook and loop velcro closure for added security. In inside of the footbed is a cushioned EVA.

Pros
  • Rubber sole with enhanced grip/traction
  • Upper shoe material is breathable and quick drying
  • Secure fit with elastic laces and velcro closure
Cons
  • Limited colors, sizing, and availability for toddlers

FAQS About Toddlers Water Shoes:

Do toddlers need water shoes?

Yes! Toddler water shoes make a great option for keeping your toddler's feet safe from hot pavement or sand, while also offering added traction if they run poolside or on a post-rained on park. Plus water shoes dry quickly, which reduces the likelihood of smelly shoes or irritation to your toddler's feet!

With that said, we don't think “swim shoes” or “aqua socks” without a durable sole are must haves by any means. Instead it's more about finding a shoe that can keep up with a toddler's pace and ever changing mind (e.g. playground to the beach and back again), while providing comfort, support, and safety.

What are the benefits of water shoes for toddlers? 

  • Lightweight – critical if going from the water to land to not weigh down the child
  • Fast drying reduces irritation or odor in shoes
  • Rubber soles for extra traction and grip on slippery surfaces while also keeping small feet from getting burnt
  • Rubber and closed toe options protect little feet from getting stubbed

How to choose the best toddler water shoes:

When choosing the best toddler water shoes, consider the type of shoe, durability, material, intended use, and whether it fosters independence.

For instance, if you intend to use the water shoes just by the pool, you're likely be fine with an easy slip on/off shoe that has some traction. However if you plan to visit a rocky beach, you'll want something that has a thicker sole so no rocks push through.

We as a montessori family, we personally look for toddler shoes that foster independence. Meaning your toddler is able to put them on without adult assistance.

What are the different types of toddler water shoes? 

  • Water resistant or proof sneakers – great for summer camp or preschool or if you live in a hot/wet climate
  • Water sandals – these come in closed and open toe options
  • Aqua socks – think water ready baby booties!

What is the difference between toddler sandals and toddler water shoes? 

Water shoes encompass the various water resistant and waterproof styles: sandals, sneakers, and aqua socks. While toddler sandals aren't necessarily water resistant or waterproof.

How do I clean toddlers water shoes?

Most toddler water shoes don't need to be cleaned. However if you plan to hike or adventure in your water shoes it's helpful to look for a pair that can be machine washed. Generally we recommend following the manufacture instructions.

How I wash our toddler water shoes:
  • Spot clean with soap, water, and a rag
  • In the washing machine on delicate in a mesh bag. I generally sit them outside in the sun to dry. If I do put in the dryer it's always on low heat.

Are jelly shoes water shoes?

Not really – while they are waterproof, they are made from a PVC plastic that can cause sweat, chaffing, bleeding, and blisters in many people. We don't recommend them as water shoes as a result.

Final Thoughts:

Toddler water shoes provide an added layer of comfort and safety through multiple terrains.

We love the Keen Stingray Closed Toe Sandals for their durability, multi-purpose use, and machine washable cleaning. The Nike Sunray Adjust 5 Toddler Water Sandals are a great option for growing feet thanks to their multiple adjustable straps. And my daughter LIVES in Native Jefferson Water Friendly Sneaker year round in Florida!

Whichever you choose, you can breathe easier knowing your child has a little more traction and grip on their soles and they won't be running around in wet shoes all day!

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