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As well as keeping feet cool, the sandals you choose for your kids need to keep up with their busy lives. From playing in the garden to exploring rockpools, and from the sandpit to the dancefloor at your sister’s wedding, it’s important to have the right footwear.
While cold weather shoes are pretty straightforward, during the summer you need to find shoes that are comfy to wear without socks - a tall order for sensitive, growing feet. Sandals that pinch or rub can quickly become tiny torture devices, so it’s wise to search out recommendations from real parents.
That’s where we come in. We’ve called upon the collective wisdom of the Mumsnet forums to find the very best kids’ sandals for every occasion. Whatever you have planned for the summer months, we’ve got the perfect sandals to slip on.
Here are the best kids’ sandals for 2021.
1. Best overall kids' sandals: Birkenstock New York
“My kids have Birkenstocks every year. They're robust, secure, withstand the tree climbing etc that mine get up to, but still look nice when needed for smarter occasions. They also last: I have three daughters so I can pass them down” - Blowninonabreeze
Price: £40 | Buy now from Schuh
Birkenstocks are hard-wearing enough for rough and tumble, comfy enough for everyday wear and stylish enough for special occasions. Mumsnetters love the high quality craftsmanship and supportive footbed, as well as the strap at the heel to keep them firmly on your kids’ feet, whatever they get up to.
A summer staple for adults as well as kids, the unisex two-strap design is iconic. With grippy soles and robust materials, Birkenstocks get the Mumsnet seal of approval.
- Size range: Infant 6 - 11
- Material: Synthetic upper, suede insole, cork/EVA sole
2. Best budget kids’ sandals: Clarks Surfing
Price: From £14 | Buy now from Amazon
While there are cheaper sandals out there, going for a well-known brand like Clarks is a good move to make sure your kids’ feet are well looked after, and at around £20 these won’t break the bank.
Available in pink, blue or red, and with velcro at the front and back, they’ll fit your child’s feet and pair well with a range of outfits. The sandals are sturdy, machine-washable and can be worn in the water. A great all-rounder at a bargain price.
- Size range: Infant 4 - 2.5 UK
- Material: Neoprene upper, rubber and EVA sole
3. Best kids' flip flops: Havaianas Brasil Flip Flop
Price: From £8 | Buy now from Amazon
Another example of an adult staple re-designed for children, Brazilian brand Havaianas have added a simple strap to the back of their low-key flip flops to make them child-friendly. The strap is stretchy so kids can run around without worrying about the flip flops falling off. They come in a huge range of colours, and have a good quality sole that will last.
The rubber is softer and comfier than other brands, so they’re less likely to rub and cut between little toes, although this is always a possibility with toe-post styles.
- Size range: Infant 1 - 8
- Material: Rubber
4. Best leather kids’ sandals: Bobux Tidal
“Pricey but gorgeously soft leather. My children love wearing them without socks” - Enjoyingthepeace
Price: From £26 | Buy now from Amazon
Mumsnetters love New Zealand brand Bobux’s butter-soft leather and bright primary colours. The closed toe means you don’t need to worry about little toes getting hurt, so these Tidals will suit adventurous toddlers, or older children when they need to look smart in the heat.
The quality’s really high, so these sandals will last. Bobux sandals can be worn to the beach thanks to the quick-drying leather, and they’re unlined at the front to optimise this. The heel has extra padding for comfort, and there are plenty of cut-outs to keep feet nice and cool.
- Size range: Infant 2 - UK 1
- Material: Leather upper, rubber sole
5. Best waterproof kids' sandals: Crocs Crocband
“They can be dressed up or down and are so versatile. They are super comfy, non-rubbing, can be worn in water or around the pool and come up beautifully when shoved in the washer" - TheLovelyOtherDinosaur
Price: From £9 | Buy now from Amazon
With a velcro fastening in front of the ankle, these Crocs are designed to fit more closely than the classic clog style, making them more versatile and less likely to fall off your kids’ feet.
Boasting a grippy sole and whole rainbow of colour options, these Crocbands are a favourite with Mumsnetters. They can be worn in the sea or swimming pool and any dirt wipes easily off the foamy EVA material. They’re on the small side, so our advice is to size up when you order.
- Size range: Infant 4 - 3 UK
- Material: EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate)
6. Most comfortable kids' sandals: Camper Bicho
“Really soft leather and comfortable flexible soles” - HickoryDickoryDot
Price: From £34 | Buy now from Amazon
Along with gorgeously soft leather, these sandals by Spanish brand Camper have a unique flexible sole, making them perfect for climbing trees and clambering over stony beaches.
With two adjustable velcro straps and a leather lining, these are super comfy on small feet, as well as being easy to get on and off. They’re not suitable for wearing in water, but they’re tasteful and practical and they’ll fit right in almost anywhere on dry land.
- Size range: Infant 7.5 - UK 5
- Material: Leather upper, rubber sole
7. Best kids' clogs: Crocs Classic Clog
“I just get mine Crocs. I've never had problems with them falling off. We often play in the river or paddling pool in the summer. If they get dirty, you can stick them in the washing machine and they come out almost dry” - NightWanderer
Price: From £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Love them or hate them, Crocs are the undisputed king of clogs. They’re lightweight and the holes keep small feet ventilated, as well as allowing water and sand to easily run out.
The loose fit of Crocs means they’ll usually last longer than one summer, but some Mumsnetters find it also means they’re difficult for kids to keep on. Waterproof and wipe-clean, they’re perfect for in the garden or at the beach, and if they get really dirty you can chuck them in the washing machine. Available in loads of colours, and customisable with little charms that fit through the holes, kids love Crocs for their fun and simple look, as well as how comfortable they are.
- Size range: Infant 2 - UK 7
- Material: EVA
8. Best smart kids’ sandals: M&S Riptape Sandals
Price: £27 | Buy now from Marks & Spencer
If you’re looking to splash out on a pair of sandals for parties and special occasions, these ones from M&S are a good bet. With a padded sole and double velcro fastening - the buckle is actually velcro in disguise - they’re part of M&S’s Walkmates range, designed with growing feet in mind, so they’re comfy as well as smart.
Available in black, white and baby pink, there’s also an older kids’ version with a chunkier sole in leopard and white.
- Size range: Infant 4 - 12
- Material: Leather
9. Best velcro kids' sandals: Timberland
“Timberland do lovely children’s sandals, there’s an open toe and closed toe version. My DS is four now but he’s had a pair every year and we’ve just ordered this year’s pair online" - DinoGreen
Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon
Known for their tough work boots, Timberland’s kids’ sandals are just right for rough and tumble. And the velcro fastening is great for busy kids as they can get them on and off themselves, as well as ensuring a perfect fit.
They’re lightly padded to keep feet comfy, and made from recycled textiles with a super-lightweight EVA footbed and sole. These sandals are fine to wear in water, and they can easily withstand being bunged in the washing machine.
- Size range: Infant 4.5 - 11.5
- Material: Textile upper, EVA sole
10. Best sporty kids' sandals: Keen Newport
“My girls both wear Keens. They do them in pretty colours (if that's what you want) they are tough and practical, wash in the machine and mine live in them” - Pikkewyn
“I get my girls (seven and three) the Keen Newport H2 sandals every summer, they are closed toe so very protective when bike or scooter riding. They are waterproof and washable. They are VERY hard wearing, so they live in them for all summer days out and activities” - oobedobe
Price: From £24 | Buy now from Amazon
For the super adventurous, we present the Keen Newport. Mumsnetters love these sturdy, up-for-anything hiking sandals that will keep kids’ feet safe, comfortable and supported from rockpool to bike ride and everywhere in between.
More like a well-ventilated trainer than a sandal, the Keen Newport boasts a reinforced toe bumper, super-grippy sole, quick-drying lining and bungee fastening. With a huge range of colours to choose from and versions of the Newport designed for all ages from toddlers to adults, many Mumsnetters are lifelong fans.
- Size range: Infant 3 - UK 6
- Material: Polyester upper, EVA sole
How to buy the best kids’ sandals
As they’re usually worn without socks, comfort is a really important factor when shopping for kids’ sandals. Look out for high-quality, lightweight materials, adjustable fastenings and plenty of padding to avoid nasty blisters.
It’s a good idea to look for sandals that are washable and can be worn in water, so your kids can keep them on whatever they get up to, and you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined by seawater or covered in grass stains.
What material is best for kids’ sandals?
EVA, a rubber-like material made from ethylene-vinyl acetate, is perfect for soles as it’s so lightweight. Crocs are entirely made of it, but if you’re looking for something smarter, leather looks great and will help you avoid sweaty little feet.
What are the best kids’ sandals to buy?
Our favourites are the Birkenstock New York for their style and practicality.
How we chose our recommendations
Our suggestions for kids’ sandals came from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of sandals for kids to buy.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been helping make parents’ lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.
We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.
Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.