4 Shoes Every Kid Needs

4 Shoes to Take Boys and Girls from Puddles to the Playground This Fall

No matter how cute they look or how dressy they're meant to be, kids' shoes have to work hard. They have to stand up to extra-tough wear, offering support and traction for little feet as they go through the adventures of an average day.

No single pair of kid's shoes is going to do every job well. You need a wardrobe of options to cover the basics of life for a little one. These four shoe types are a perfect place to start your child's shoe wardrobe, and picking them together is a wonderful way to help your child learn decision-making and discover new ways to express their personality.

The Wet-Weather Fighter

Happily, most kids don't approach a walk from here to there like a grown-up would, delicately picking past hazards in their path. Instead, they run straight for that muddy puddle. They can't resist the urge to dip a toe into that lake, and they see that massive snowdrift as an exciting mountain to be climbed. That's why finding a shoe that serves their drive for adventure by offering superior traction and keeping their feet dry is a definite must for parents.

The type of wet-weather shoes you'll need will depend on the weather where you live. If you live in a climate with cold and warm seasons, a kid's shoe wardrobe will likely include options such as comfortable rain boots for spring showers, cozy kids' winter boots to support adventures through the winter, and possibly even water shoes for trips to the beach or the lake.

When you're choosing shoes for wet conditions, look for functional elements like excellent traction (critical when damp makes surfaces slick or icy), breathability and/or cleanability (waterproof shoes often aren't breathable, so being able to air out sweat can make a huge difference) and surfaces that are easy to clean (because removing mud matters).

These shoes and kids' boots are an especially wonderful place for your kid to showcase his or her personality because they come in an exciting array of bright colors and bold prints. Make picking the right wet-weather shoes a fun activity that you do together.

The Big Event Shoe

Holidays. Recitals. Special family events. Most kids have a surprisingly large number of special events to attend each year, each of which requires an outfit a little dressier than their everyday options.

Choosing special event shoes for kids is a little different than picking shoes for a grown-up. Most often, kids' dress shoes need to be fairly neutral, because you'll likely have one pair of kids dress shoes to wear with all his or her dressy outfits. It shouldn't be the same kind of investment as it might be for a pair of women's dress shoes, because they simply won't be worn for that long. And kids' dress shoes need to be wearable and supportive because of their likelihood of being worn while running around. If your shopping for your kid but aren't sure the best type your kid will like best, there are always boys' shoes for dressier events often include loafers, boat shoes, and mocs, depending on the level of formality of the special events on their calendars.

For girls, some favorite dressier options include Mary Janes and ballet flats for girls', which have a delicate grace but are still comfortable to wear even if things get active. You can help your child learn to choose special event shoes by making a list with him or her of all the fun events coming up on the family calendar–an ideal activity for the start of a new school year–and discussing wardrobe options. Play mix-and-match with your child's favorite choices to find shoes that are both fun to wear and will go with most of their outfits.

The Shoes They Love to Move In

Moving around is key in every kid's day, whether it's because they're heading to gym class or you're running with them to the bus stop. For everyday wear, the ideal shoe for most kids gives them the traction and support they need to move around a lot and have a little style that helps them to express themselves. That might mean kids sneakers, but it doesn't have to; your kid might prefer loafers, boots, or even sandals.

Whichever pair you choose, the biggest factor in any kid's shoe selection should be how well they provide support. So look together for a shoe with traction, such as a non-leather sole that allows him or her to grip the ground as they move, and a closure that he or she can manage easily, such as Velcro rather than laces. The shoe should also be breathable so that they don't get stinky after a day of adventures with their friends.

The Cozy-Around-the-House Shoe

If you never know what the kid in your life will trudge through during the day, or if you'd just like to keep your home a little cleaner, you should consider creating the habit of changing into fun, around-the-house kids slippers.

Although slippers can get a bad rap for being a boring necessity, slippers are an especially rich area for a kid's expression. Sure, they keep the tootsies warm, but a kid can also choose a pair of girls or boys' slippers with real personality. Some pairs might feature their favorite animals or cartoon characters or show off their love of bright colors in a way they might not be able to in a school uniform or special occasion dress.

As with every shoe on this list, traction and the right level of support are critical here, so talk with your kid about what will go with their favorite around-the-house activities and outfits.


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