10 Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids (2024)

10 Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids (2024)

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Barefoot kids’ shoes are a perfect way to give your child’s feet space to develop naturally rather than being constrained by traditional, often unnatural shoe shapes.

That’s because barefoot shoes have flexible soles, roomy toe boxes, and a comfy fit that mimics the experience of going shoeless. These shoes support children’s natural foot development, promoting strong muscles and improving balance. Plus, they’re like a sensory adventure for those tiny toes, offering a direct connection to the ground.

We want the best for our little one’s feet, so we’ve curated a list of top-rated barefoot kids’ shoes for children who love adventure. From toddler barefoot sandals and slip-ons to winter boots and wear-me-everywhere sneakers, there’s something to suit all little toes!

What are barefoot kids’ shoes?

Barefoot kids’ shoes are footwear designed to mimic the barefoot experience while providing protection and support. The idea behind these shoes is to allow natural foot movement and development, similar to walking or running without shoes. They have a very flexible sole that allows the foot to move naturally and a wide toe box to let the toes splay and move as they would without shoes.

Also, the heel of the shoe is at the same height as the ball of the foot, encouraging a more natural and neutral foot position. Lastly, toddler barefoot shoes are lightweight and breathable materials like mesh or natural fibers to enhance comfort and reduce sweating.

1. Wildling Shoes

Best for: Toddler barefoot winter boots and casual shoes

Sizes: EU 18-35

Materials: Organic and recycled cotton, linen, hemp, and wool

Wilding Shoes offers a wide range of affordable barefoot shoes for kids with 2.5mm soles that genuinely emulate the sensation of being barefoot, thanks to their exceptionally flexible soles. We also love that they use sustainable, innovative materials in their shoe lineup, including organic and natural materials that are kind to your child’s feet.

Given their light and thin design, their winter barefoot boots will keep your kiddos feet warm, thanks to their use of wool. For an added level of warmth, you can always consider including an additional wool insole.

Having tried a pair of Wildling shoes ourselves at Ecothes HQ, we can vouch for how comfortable these barefoot shoes are.

Wildling ProsWildling Cons
✔️ Sustainably made❌ Not all styles are water resistant
✔️ Offer genuine barefoot feel❌ Difficult to dry
✔️ Lightweight perfect for children

2. Vivobarefoot

Best for: Toddler barefoot sandals, boots and casual shoes

Sizes: US5/EU20 – adult

Materials: Recycled PET plastic

Vivobarefoot’s toddler sandals, boots, and shoes are a crowd favorite.

The brand caters to children of all ages, from infants to big kids, ensuring a perfect fit for every growth stage. The diverse styles available, including vegan options, provide ample choices to suit every preference.

The Vivobarefoot Primus Trail shoes are a perfect go-to for outdoor activities like hiking and sports, while the Lumi is the preferred choice for snowy adventures.

Plus, these lightweight barefoot shoes for kids are made from recycled PET plastic bottles to help minimize waste as much as possible.

Though Vivobarefoot shoes might be on the higher end in terms of price, the investment is justified by their remarkable durability, especially considering how rough kids can be on their footwear. They are so confident about their quality that they offer a fantastic 100-day money-back guarantee!

Vivobarefoot ProsVivobarefoot Cons
✔️ Waterproof perfect for sports, hiking, and water shoes for outdoor activities❌ Some people report they can start to smell
✔️ Repair service available❌ Laces don’t last as long as the shoes
✔️ 100-day guarantee

3. Be Lenka

Best for: Tennis shoes, high tops, mesh slip ons, winter boots and kids barefoot snow boots

Sizes: EU 24-35

Materials: Leather and nubuck leather

For extra wide toes, Be Lenka is a great kids’ barefoot shoe option. They offer a stunning array of hues to choose from, and they also excel in providing barefoot shoes for children with super durable outsoles. These features ensure style and functionality, making them a hit among kids and parents.

These shoes are handmade in Europe, with most uppers made with leather and nubuck leather. What we love most about this brand is its many practical options for winter and play – from tennis shoes, high tops, and mesh slip-ons to winter and snow boots. All are equipped with a comfy 6 mm flexible sole, of course.

Be Lenka ProsBe Lenka Cons
✔️ Extra wide toe box❌ Not many sports or dressy options
✔️ Many colorful options❌ Returns only available in EU and USA
✔️ Durable outsoles

4. Mukishoes

Best for: Toddler barefoot winter boots and sneakers

Sizes: EU 24-35

Materials: Cotton, hemp, wool, cork, leather

Mukishoes are not only ultra-stylish but also ethically and sustainably made in Europe! The barefoot kid’s shoes feature organic and fair-trade materials (cotton, hemp, wool, cork, or leather) as much as possible. Also, the pairs are manufactured in Portugal, where the company is located.

The brand has a wide selection of vegan options and cozy lined boots available during the fall and winter.

Mukishoes operate on a small batch production model, utilizing limited quantities of materials, with their best-selling models like Mini Moss and toddler barefoot winter boots returning each fall, so make sure you get there before styles sell out.

Mukishoes ProsMukishoes Cons
✔️ Extra wide toe box❌ Seasonal items aren’t always available
✔️ Sustainably made

Looking for sustainable baby clothing option? Check out our handy guide here.

5. Softstar

Best for: Kids barefoot moccasins, boots, and toddler barefoot sandals

Sizes: Baby US2 to Adult

Materials: Sheepskin

Next up is Softstar — one of the best barefoot kids’ shoes brands out there. The brand takes pride in being entirely handcrafted in the US, offering a unique customization feature with a wide range of vibrant colors. This level of personalization adds a fun aspect to the shopping experience. Plus, in addition to casual barefoot shoes for children

Softstar Shoes also offers dress shoe options and exceptionally toasty sheepskin boots!

Softstar ProsSoftstar Cons
✔️ Resolable❌ Not vegan friendly
✔️ Customizable shoes

6. Zeazoo

Best for: Kids barefoot sandals, snow boots, and sneakers

Sizes: EU 16-46

Materials: Vegetable-tanned leather, microfiber

From minimal moccasin-style indoor shoes to practical barefoot winter boots, Zeazoo has a variety of options to suit different needs and preferences.

On top of that, the brand is fully committed to eco-friendliness, primarily utilizing vegetable-tanned leather and introducing a new vegan option made from microfiber in 2024.

Parents and kids can personalize their shoes by choosing colors, cutouts, and appliques, and even providing measurements to ensure a perfect fit, especially with adjustable straps.

Zeazoo ProsZeazoo Cons
✔️ Customized options❌ Expensive USA shipping
✔️ Chrome-free, vegetable tanned leather

7. Tiki shoes

Best for: Barefoot kids sneakers and slippers

Sizes: EU 18-44

Materials: Chrome-free leather & some vegan options

Tikki’s affordable barefoot shoes for kids cover early walkers to older kids. While they are well-known for their popular women’s sandals, their commitment to quality also extends to their children’s shoes.

Using high-quality, chrome-free leather ensures peace of mind about what touches your child’s skin, which is super important. They have something for everyone, from flexible and grippy sneaker soles to minimal Nido sandal soles! They even provide indoor shoes and slippers, ideal for children required to wear “house shoes” for school or daycare, and cozy wool-lined boots.

Tikki Shoes ProsTikki Shoes Cons
✔️ Vegan options❌ Different size guides for different models
✔️ Chrome-free leather

8. Splay shoes

Best for: Barefoot kids’ sneakers and slip-ons

Sizes: US8/EU24-adult

Materials: Cotton canvas and microfiber

Splay has won our hearts for being the go-to brand that ticks all the boxes for barefoot shoes for kids. They meet the essential criteria for barefoot shoes ( wide toe box, zero drop platform, and super flexible sole) and come at an affordable price point, making them accessible for all.

The ease of slipping them on and off, whether through the Velcro version, lace-up, or slip-on, adds to their convenience. Being lightweight is a huge plus, making them a top choice for our active youngsters.

While there are a few minor drawbacks, like the potential for colors to fade with wear and the need for careful washing, we don’t mind this, considering the durability and affordability of these barefoot shoes for kids. After all, let’s face it—kids are hard on their shoes, and Splay handles the challenge admirably.

Splay Shoes ProsSplay Shoes Cons
✔️ Affordable❌ Colors might fade with frequent use
✔️ Choose from laces, slip on or velcro❌ Canvas needs some breaking in

9. Origo shoes

Best for: Toddler barefoot sneakers

Sizes: US8 to Adult

Materials: Cotton canvas or leather

Origo Shoes’ are equipped with a rubber toe guard, ensuring the shoes maintain their aesthetic appeal despite the wear and tear of active young feet.

The zero-drop styles with a wide-toe box are versatile yet trend-driven, which we love. Origo barefoot shoes feature velcro straps, which provide a universal fit that caters to different foot sizes.

Lastly, All Origo’s barefoot kids’ shoes are manufactured ethically in Mexico and come in a cotton canvas or leather upper.

Origo ProsOrigo Cons
✔️ Toe guard for extra durability❌ Might feel a bit stiff at first
✔️ Choose from laces, slip on or velcro❌ Canvas needs some breaking in

10. Zuna

Best for: Barefoot kids sneakers

Sizes: US 12K – 4Y

Materials: Vegan

What makes Zuna shoes so coveted is their versatility in catering to different foot types and sizes – from thin to wider feet.

Many happy owners agree that their ability to withstand intense play and wear and tear is a testament to the durability and quality that Zuna’s best barefoot shoes for kids bring to the table. We also love the fact that they are vegan and machine-washable!

Zuna ProsZuna Cons
✔️ Machine washable❌ Limited style options
✔️ Durable

Are barefoot shoes good for children?

Yes, barefoot shoes for children have many amazing benefits. For starters, these shoes allow a child’s foot to move and develop naturally, promoting stronger muscles and tendons.

The wide toe box in barefoot shoes allows the toes to spread naturally. The thin soles in barefoot shoes enhance sensory perception, helping children better understand the ground they’re walking on.

In fact, barefoot shoes may reduce the risk of developing foot deformities associated with traditional, rigid shoes. Conventional narrow shoes can squeeze the toes together, leading to discomfort, and the narrow design limits the foot’s natural movement, potentially causing muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, and altered gait patterns.

Research examining the long-term impact of minimalist footwear shows that wearing top-notch barefoot shoes daily decreases knee adduction and significantly alleviates discomfort. Furthermore, elderly individuals observed that walking barefoot or using barefoot-style shoes significantly reduced hip and knee joint stress levels.

Do barefoot shoes help with flat feet in kids?

Yes! Barefoot shoes encourage natural movement and muscle engagement, which can strengthen the muscles of the feet and lower legs, providing some support for individuals with flat feet.

Plus, wearing toddler barefoot sandals, boots, and sneakers can promote a more natural gait and foot mechanics. This may benefit children with flat feet as it encourages the foot to move closer to its natural state. Lastly, the wide toe box in barefoot shoes allows the toes to spread naturally. For kiddos with flat feet, this can help distribute the pressure more evenly across the foot and possibly enhance toe muscle strength.

How to choose the right barefoot shoes for kids?

Choosing affordable barefoot shoes for kids is not exactly like shopping for regular footwear. We need to consider several important factors to ensure proper fit, comfort, and overall foot health. Here’s what to look for when opting for a brand-new pair for your little one:

  • Understand the Concept of Barefoot Shoes: Familiarize yourself with the features and benefits of barefoot shoes, including thin and flexible soles, wide-toe boxes, zero-drop heels, and lightweight construction that mimics the feeling of being barefoot.
  • Measure Your Child’s Feet: Measure your child’s feet accurately using a foot measuring device, or visit a shoe store for professional sizing. Measure both feet, as one foot may be slightly larger than the other.
  • Consider Growth Room: Ensure that there is enough room for growth, typically around half an inch to a full inch from the longest toe to the end of the shoe. However, the shoes should not be excessively loose.
  • Look for a Wide Toe Box: Choose barefoot shoes with a wide toe box to allow natural toe splaying and movement. The toes should not be cramped or squeezed together.
  • Check for Flexibility: Test the flexibility of the sole. A good barefoot shoe should allow for easy bending and flexing at the ball of the foot, resembling the natural movement of the foot.
  • Ensure Zero Drop Heel: Check that the heel is at the same level as the ball of the foot or has a minimal heel-to-toe drop. Zero-drop shoes encourage a more natural posture and gait.
  • Opt for Breathable Materials: Choose shoes made from breathable and lightweight materials such as mesh, canvas, or leather to keep your child’s feet comfortable and dry.
  • Consider Your Child’s Activities: Consider your child’s activities while wearing the shoes. Different activities may require different levels of protection and support. For example, barefoot boots may give your child more support and warmth during winter walks than a barefoot kids’ sneaker would.
  • Allow Your Child to Try Them On: Have your child try on the shoes and walk around to ensure a comfortable fit. Check for any pressure points, rubbing, or discomfort. Paying attention to your child’s feedback about the shoes is also important. They should feel comfortable and enjoy wearing them.

If you’re in need of a new pair of barefoot kids shoes and care about the planet, look no further than this list. Every brand cares deeply about our little ones’ health and the environment!

If you know any more brands of barefoot shoes for children that deserve a spot on this list, leave a comment below or email us, and we’ll check them out!

Make sure you read our Sustainable Kids Shoes for even more comfy options.

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