Best Toddler Water Shoes



Jan 29, 2022

Warmer weather has hit and now you are planning for what footwear to put on your toddler. Toddler water shoes are my go to footwear in the summer. I use them as an everyday shoe so that I do not have to worry about their feet and what activity they are up to, because water shoes will cover them all. 

Let them play in the puddles or go to the beach, pool or out on a hike. A toddler water shoe will be your answer to toddler summer footwear.

Planning an upcoming trip to the beach with your toddler? Check out toddler beach essentials to make sure you aren't forgetting something!

Toddler water shoes beach

Not summer check out Toddler Raingear guide!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas

What are Toddler Water Shoes?

Toddler water shoes are shoes or sandals that your toddler can wear while in water or around water. Water shoes are more flexible than traditional shoes, lighter, easy to wash and they dry quickly. 

In my case I use toddler water sandals hiking in the warmer months of the year. Therefore, when my toddlers spot the puddles, mud, small creeks or rivers I have no concern letting them explore. Their shoes will stay on their feet to protect them from any sharp objects and dry quickly afterwards. 

Qualities to Look For in a Toddler Water Shoe?

image of my 3 keen water sandals for toddlers

I am a minimalist. I do own lots of shoes for myself but I do not want to buy tons of shoes for my toddlers, especially when they outgrow them so quickly. In summer I want a shoe that I can use for most occasions and that is a toddler water shoe/sandal.


I need the toddler water shoe to last a whole season and preferably longer. If I can get multiple kids to reuse the same water shoe that is gold! 


The shoe should have good traction on the sole. I do not want my toddlers slipping and falling due to the shoe. I want an all purpose shoe that can be used at the pool or out hiking on uneven bumpy ground.

Quick Drying:

A water shoe should dry very quickly. Part of the allure of a water shoe is that you can get it wet and let them dry out on their own. 

Easy to put on Hard to take off:

Toddlers are a force of nature, I know because I currently have three. I want a shoe that I can easily put on their feet and a shoe that won’t just slip right back off. I want the shoe to stay on securely. 

This rules out toddler flip flops for me, does anyone really use them?


Your toddler will splash in the mud and find 100 different ways to get dirty. I want a shoe that won’t take me hours of scrubbing to clean. I ideally would want to wash them! 


I want a toddler water shoe that can be used for many purposes; hiking, beach, pool, summer rain and general wear. 

Difference Between Toddler Water Shoes and Toddler Water Sandals?

The biggest difference is that a shoe is closed around the foot while a sandal is not. A sandal can be either a closed toe or an open toe. A sandal is more breathable and commonly not worn with socks. 

If you are concerned about sun protection a water shoe will cover more of the foot than a sandal. Overall, both work great for toddlers and it is more a parent’s preference. I personally like a water sandal that can be used in all situations all summer long, but I can see why some parents will want both!

3 toddlers in water sandals
Toddler Water Sandals are great hiking sandals

For the hiking family with toddlers I highly recommend a water sandal. Read Toddler Hiking Shoes for more information on what toddlers should wear on their feet hiking.

For the family living on the beach all summer I would recommend the water shoe.

Do Toddlers Need Water Shoes?

If you plan on going to a water park, beach or pool water shoes provide traction so your toddler doesn't slip so easily. In the case of a beach water shoes also provides protection against hot sand and sharp rocks.

For the hiking family that go on summer hikes involving creeks, streams or lakes water sandals are great. Your toddler can hike in them and also play in the water while providing traction so they are less likely to slip. You will not have to worry about carrying an extra pair of shoes or getting their socks and shoes wet.

Can Toddlers Swim in Water Shoes?

Yes, but it is not required. If you are at a pool it is the parents option whether to take the water shoe off. I personally do not have my toddlers swim in water shoes while at a pool.

Best Toddler Water Shoes

Ubfen Water Shoes: Best Older Toddler Water Shoe

Ubfen water shoes are a great option if you want a pure water shoe for your older toddler. The reason I say older toddler is because the shoe starts at size 8.5 Toddler. My 3 year old is still in a size 8, so the shoe would not fit him just yet. The shoe is not worn with socks.

I mention pure water shoes, because I do NOT suggest this shoe for hiking and everyday summer use. This water shoe is great, but would wear during water activities such as beach, pool, water sports, short walks to creeks, streams and lakes. The design is a barefoot feel and very lightweight. You will not have issues carrying this shoe in your luggage!

Ubfen water shoes would be ideal if you spend a lot of time at the beach or lake. They will protect your toddler from the hot sun, shells, and rocks. The shoe features an anti-collision design to protect the toddlers toes from being hurt from kicking on rock or stones. 

Ubfen water shoes are ideal for:

  • Beach vacations
  • Pool
  • Boat Trips/Fishing
  • Water Parks

Pros of Ubfen water shoes:

  • Quick dry
  • Cross ventilation for breathability
  • Lightweight
  • Rubber outsole with slip resistance
  • Anti-collision toe design
  • Easy to wash

Cons of Ubfen water shoes:

  • Only made for size 8.5 Toddler and above
  • Some may not like the barefoot feel of the shoe

Merrell Kid’s bare Steps H20 Water Shoe: best Toddler Water Shoe for Wide Feet

Merrell makes a great water shoe option that accommodates young toddlers as well as older toddlers. The shoe comes in many different colors and offers a wide foot option. The shoe can be worn with or without socks

The shoes are eco-friendly and made from recycled materials. The sole is made from rubber and has flexible grooves for traction. It closes with a velcro strap and is a secure fit on your toddlers foot.

The water shoe has an extra wide toe box so there is no concern of your toddlers toes being squashed. This is ideal for the wider foot toddler!

The shoe is easy to wash, but can take a better part of a day to air dry. 

Merrells water shoes are ideal for:

  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Water Parks
  • Boat Trips/Fishing
  • Playground Play

Pros of Merrell Kid’s Bare Step H20 Water Shoe:

  • Wide option for larger toddler feet
  • Lightweight
  • Tread on the rubber sole
  • Easy to wash
  • Easy on off closure

Cons of Merrell Kid’s Bare Step H20 Water Shoe:

  • Longer time to air dry than other options
  • Slightly more expensive than Ubfen water shoes

Best Toddler Water Sandals

Keen Unisex Child Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal

If you are looking for an all purpose summer sandal which also works great in water play Keen offers the best water sandal. It comes in multiple colors and starts at size 4 Toddler.

My toddlers in keen water sandals
My boys don't miss any water fun in their Keen Water Sandals

The sandal is more expensive than what I would normally spend for toddler shoes, but the quality is worth it. You will not have to buy another pair of shoes for summer if you get these.

The sandals are 100% polyester with a jersey lining on top for breathability. The shoe features  a metatomical molded footbed, otherwise designed to match the natural curves of a toddlers foot.

The sole is made from rubber and is flexible, however more stiff than the water shoe options I mentioned. The sandal has a closed toe, which is preferable to me. Without a closed toe I would not find it appropriate for hiking and rock play.

The sandals are easy to get on my toddler's feet. They have an adjustable hook and loop closure as well as a pull string to ensure a secure fit.

Keen Water Sandal is ideal for:

  • General purpose summer sandal
  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Playground
  • Hiking

Pros of Keen Unisex Child Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal:

  • Non-marking rubber sole
  • Jersey Lining for breathability
  • 100% polyester
  • Metatomical footbed for comfort
  • Closed toe protection
  • Adjustable bungee and hoop and loop closure
  • Machine washable

Cons of Keen Unisex Child Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal:

  • Pricier option
  • Heavier than water shoe options

Apakowa Kid’s Soft Sole Closed Toe Sport Beach Sandals: Best Budget Toddler Water Sandal

If you don’t want to spend the money on Keen’s, Apakowa makes a budget friendly water sandal for half the cost.

toddler water sandals Apakowa

 I have used this brand with my toddlers for 2 years before upgrading to the Keen. The Keen sandal is more durable, however a pair of Apakowa sandals do last at least a whole summer when I used them with my boys. If your toddler is young and not running around as much this is a great sandal.

The sandal is made of 100% synthetic, a leather insole and thermoplastic rubber outsole. The synthetic upper makes for a breathable and quick drying sandal. 

Apakowa water sandal features a hood and loop closure, adjustable toggle and heel hook for easy off and on. It is a closed toe sandal making it a great choice for everyday wear and hiking!

I have had 3 pairs of Apakowa water sandals. One pair lasted me two children and two summers, while my active toddler wore through a pair after 4 months. However, my toddlers wore these sandals everyday in summer. They got good use!

Apakowa Water Sandal is ideal for:

  • General purpose summer sandal
  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Playground
  • Hiking

Pros of Apakowa Kid’s Soft Sole Closed Toe Sport Beach Sandals:

  • Cushioned misdole
  • Flexible Thermoplastic rubber outsole
  • Heel hook
  • Traction outsole
  • Quick Drying
  • Machine Washable

Cons of Apakowa Kid’s Soft Sole Closed Toe Sport Beach Sandals:

  • Not best for wide feet
  • Not as durable as Keen