The Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids – Everyday, Winter, Summer

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A family wearing vivobarefoot barefoot shoes, two kids and two adults.

Picking out healthy barefoot shoes for kids is always an ordeal. My boys have to like them, I have to like them, and they have to be barefoot approved. After my run-in with a chronic foot issue, I learned that the shoes we wear have a big impact on how our bodies feel. I’m keen for my boys to avoid that same foot pain, so I only choose shoes that allow their feet to develop normally. We’ve spent the last few years scouring the internet for the best barefoot and minimalist kids shoes that check all the boxes.

Below you’ll find a list of the kids barefoot shoes we all love and keep coming back to!

Why Barefoot Shoes for Kids?

“Barefoot” shoes are so-called because they let your feet move as if barefoot. Most shoes inhibit foot function with stiff soles, cramped toe-boxes, and heels that push your weight forward into an unnatural position. But in order to stay strong and mobile, our feet need to be able to move naturally inside shoes. For kids especially, there is no good reason to be stuffing their little piggies into shoes that limit their natural movement right when they are growing and developing motor skills.

*The terms barefoot and minimalist shoes are used interchangeably here.

What Makes A Healthy Shoe

A close up of 3 perspectives of a Be Lenka barefoot kids shoe in army green. One showing the anatomical wide toe box, one from the side showing the completely flat and thin sole, and the 3rd showing the shoe completely rolled up into a ball.

Good shoes for kids are shaped like feet (won’t squish their toes), completely flat (for proper alignment), and flexible enough to roll into a ball (so foot muscles stay strong and supple).

*For more about the benefits of barefoot shoes for kids AND adults, Read this post.*

How To Measure Your Child’s Feet

Now that we’ve determined what we’re looking for in a shoe, let’s learn how to measure your kid’s feet. I always measure twice before I order and check the sizing advice given by brands (usually you add 1.5cm to foot length and find the nearest corresponding size). If things still are unclear, I contact the company with questions before ordering. Just be sure to measure both feet and double check your measurements! Below is a video that shows the most accurate way to measure length and width, the Wall Method.

*For more information about correctly measuring your feet, Read this post.*

Now let’s get to the shoe options! Below are my top picks for kids barefoot shoes for play, winter, summer, and rain.

Everyday Play Barefoot Shoes for Kids

1. Splay Athletics

A close up of a boy wearing Splay Athletics minimalist shoes sitting on a rock

$44 | Vegan

My oldest son can usually be found in his Splays. We love them because they are affordable, easy to get on and off, and very lightweight. They have a narrower mid-foot, so they didn’t work well for my chubby-footed little one, but they have a really generous toe box shape (my youngest has what I call “puffy bricks” for feet and Splay does not work for him). Sizing goes all the way up to an EU 39 (I have a pair), so this is a brand we will keep coming back to as my kids get older. They are holding up well so far, but they are not as durable as some of the other brands you’ll find in this list (check out this IG post to see how they wear for us). Splay Athletics currently only makes barefoot kids shoes, but in the not-too-distant future they plan to add adult shoes too. Use my code ANYASREVIEWS for an additional 10% off!

2. Vivobarefoot Primus

A close up of a small childs' feet putting on Vivobarefoot primus barefoot sneakers

$80 | Vegan

Another sneaker option that we love is the Vivobarefoot Primus. These are a little more pricey, but will last through multiple seasons and/or multiple children. Vivobarefoot makes a variety of barefoot shoes for kids but the Primus stood out to me and to both of my boys. The Primus goes through some changes every year, with different colors and features available, but they’re a solid shoe every time. My son loves the bright blue and of course velcro makes everyone’s lives easier. They are a solid shoe despite being a little bit more than I typically like to spend on minimalist kids shoes. Get 10% off any Vivobarefoot order with my code ANYAVB

3. Be Lenka Kids

A close up of a kid's feet wearing Be Lenka minimalist play shoes

$66 | Leather

These Be Lenka Kids barefoot shoes are a new addition to the superb line up of Be Lenka shoes! They are wider than most other kids’ brands we’ve tried (great for wide, thick feet) and very well made and durable. My boys wear them as transitional weather shoes around late fall or early spring, as they come up higher around the ankle. They have a removable insole for high volume feet, and the velcro straps allows for easy on and off and a secure fit. They are one of our faves for serious play. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off Be Lenka purchases.

4. Mukishoes Kids

A close up of a pair of mukishoes barefoot shoes for kids in vegan canvas moss green color

$100 | Vegan Options | Waterproof Options

Mukishoes is one of my favorite barefoot brands for adults, so we are so happy they are making barefoot kids shoes now! These shoes are vegan, lightweight, super flexible, and WATERPROOF. Yep, you read that right. There is an inner membrane between the layers of fabric that is waterproof. Besides being excellent quality and adorable, Mukishoes also places a huge emphasis on ethics and sustainability in all their products. They also have some non-waterproof and leather options. The shoes pictured above have become part of the regular rotation of play shoes for my older son. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off their kids line and 10% off adults.

5. Wildling Shoes

$95 | Vegan Options | Waterproof Options

Wildling Shoes is another favorite brand of mine for adult shoes, but minimalist shoes for kids is their main bread and butter. They are supremely flexible and easy to wear, and always ethically made. While they don’t look like traditional sneakers, they are simple in design and so comfortable. Wildling shoes all have a uniquely flexible sole that allows for full freedom of movement and plenty of ground feel. They carry a wide variety of styles for kids depending on the weather.

Barefoot Summer Sandals and Water Shoes for Kids

1. Vivobarefoot Ultra

A child putting on a pair of Vivobarefoot Ultra water shoes

$60 | Vegan

The Vivobarefoot Ultra is a simple, durable, minimalist kids shoe and an all-time favorite in our house. We had one pair that lasted 3 years, both my kids wore them constantly for about a year and a half each (even insisting on wearing them during winter). I think that’s a $60 well spent! I love that they can be worn in water in summer and with socks when it’s cold outside. They have a good shape and are easy for my kids to put on, and they love the bright color. Perfect for kids who don’t like strappy sandals but need something they can get wet in. Get 10% off any Vivobarefoot order with my code ANYAVB

2. Earth Runners

$40 | Vegan

I’ve been wearing Earth Runners myself for years now. They are very well made and durable, and also secure on all types of feet. They have very thin, flexible soles and will let your kiddo run wild without compromising their foot function. Once the straps are adjusted to the right fit they slip on and off. The strap that goes between the toes can feel rough to start, but it does loosen. If your child is complaining about it, try getting the strap wet and twisting it back and forth for a while to soften it. Use code ANYASREVIEWSER for 10% off your purchase.

3. Tikki Nido

A pair of Tikki Nido sandals sitting on a wood deck in blue leather

$35 | Leather

These Nido sandals are new to us this year, but Tikki is a well-established barefoot kids shoe brand. They also make minimalist shoes for toddlers. So far I am very pleased. The price point is on point and they are everything I want in a sandal: flat, flexible, and secure to the foot. The Nido goes all the way up to a size 32, so it will fit young children as well as toddlers. They’ve got lots of different colors, some with fun designs, and the quality is really good. You can see more info and pictures about these here.

4. Unshoes Keota

a pair of Unshoes Keota sandals for kids sitting on a wood deck

$40 | Vegan

These Unshoes Keotas are great little sandals for kids. They go all the way up to EU size 35, so kids of any age can wear them. The elastic back makes for easy on and off and the adjustable straps let the shoes grow with your kid. My kids aren’t real keen on strappy sandals for everyday play, but they’ve been nice to have for beach trips. Get free shipping in the US with code ANYA

Warm Winter Barefoot Boots for Kids

1. Vivobarefoot Yeti

$85 | Vegan | Waterproof

If you’re looking for a barefoot kids shoe specifically for winter, The Yeti is the only barefoot kids boot of its kind. It is completely flat, waterproof, and made for cold weather and snow. The elastic cinch and velcro strap make these secure around the ankles, and they come with a removable thermal insole. I personally think Vivo’s thermal insoles are not warm enough for the extreme cold in the upper Midwest, and I always swap them out for a sheepskin or wool insole. My oldest wore these Yeti’s with a sheepskin insole all last winter in extreme temps and did great! They held up well and kept his feet dry without smashing his toes. Get 10% off any Vivobarefoot order with my code ANYAVB

2. Zeazoo Dingo

two pairs of feet wearing Zeazoo Kids Dingo boots, barefoot sheepskin winter boots for kids and adults.

$85 | Sheepskin

The Zeazoo Dingo is a sheepskin boot very similar to Uggs, but with a wide toebox and a flexible sole, making them a great minimalist shoe for kids or adults. It’s 100% lined throughout and very warm and cozy. This particular model is plenty spacious, and caters to high volume feet and ankles. My little guy has really thin feet and was sliding around a lot until we added another sheepskin insole to take up space, but once we resolved the fit for his narrow feet, these have become a favorite of his on cold days. This boot is not waterproof, but you can use Sno Seal on it with great results. See this tutorial on Instagram! I wore my adult versions all last year and they were my warmest boots by far, and now that it’s cooling off I’m reaching for them again constantly. North American customers can get them directly from Anya’s Shop in kids and adult sizes. International customers can order with code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off direct from Zeazoo Kids, or from the UK shop 100 Barefoot Soles for 10% off.

*Zeazoo also makes a sheepskin boot with velcro straps called the Yeti. This might be a better option for kids with very thin ankles. You can get 5% off your order from Zeazoo directly with code ANYASREVIEWS.

3. Softstar Phoenix

$135 | Sheepskin

The Softstar Phoenix is a super high quality warm boot that you can customize with whatever color your child likes (can you tell we are all blue all the time?). They use the same Vibram sole as on the Zeazoo Dingo boot, which has good traction and flexibility. The foot portion is smooth leather, which is naturally water resistant. The leg shaft is suede, so needs to be waterproofed to keep moisture out (see the above photo :D). We love how easy they are to put on, and that they keep my boy’s feet really warm. He does get snow inside the boot often though, because he’s a maniac and they don’t cinch closed at the top. But they are working well for us, and we expect they will be in good enough condition to pass on to another child when he grows out of them.

Use code ANYA for 15% off your first purchase. Youth sizes can be found here.

4. Be Lenka Penguin

a pair of kids barefoot winter shoes from Be Lenka, the Penguin model in bright blue, lined with fleece sitting on grass.

$70 | Waterproof | Fleece Lined

The Be Lenka Penguin is a fleece lined waterproof bootie. They are easy on and off with the velcro, and very spacious in the toe box. The insole is removable, but they won’t be as warm without it (it comes with an adhesive strip you can use to secure it down). My littlest boy is loving his so much this year, they’re just like sneakers but warmer! I am a huge fan of Be Lenka because they make barefoot shoes for kids in colors they actually like. Be Lenka shoes look cool, are super durable, and they are hard wearing. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off your Be Lenka purchase, but note that returns aren’t accepted outside the EU.

5. Wildling Nessie

Wildling Nessie wool barefoot boots with elastic laces in the snow

$137 | Water Resistant | Wool

In addition to great play shoes, Wildling Shoes also makes wonderful warm booties that are water resistant and practical for cold weather. My boys both wear the Nessie model which has a wool interior, wool upper, and integrated membrane to keep water out. They are cozy, warm, and perfect for cold weather play. At our house they often get worn to play out in the snow, but they aren’t really designed for that and they always come in with snow inside the shoes.

Read my full review of the Wildling Nessie in this post

6. Bobux

$85 | Waterproof | Fleece Lined

A few years ago there were hardly any barefoot boots for kids besides Bobux. My boys survived two extremely cold winters in their adorable and super high quality minimalist boots. They are great for serious playing in serious weather. Although they are stiffer than I prefer in minimalist kids shoes, they are warm, easy on and off, and can take a real beating. Bobux also has some of the best looking minimalist dressy kids boots I’ve seen. You can read my review of the Aspen boot here.

7. A Couple More Options

The above shoes have been worn personally by my children, but I am also very interested in the brand Kiuu for kids winter proof boots. They are based out of Germany and have quite a few options that look great for snowy, cold, and wet winters (they don’t ship to the US yet!). The Etsy shop Soft Walker Shoes is another shop I have almost purchased from and consider to be a top ranking affordable option for cold, but the shoes would need to be waterproofed if you live in a wet climate.

Barefoot Rubber Rain Boots for Kids

Here are a few traditional rain boot options that meet my requirement for minimalist footwear for kids!

Barefoot Shoes for Toddlers

Barefoot Shoes for Big Kids (US Youth 1 and up)

Brand Width Comparison

A side by side comparison of 5 major barefoot shoe brands for kids showing the width: Wilding shoes, Splay Athletics, Vivobarefoot Primus, Tikki Moon, and Be Lenka play.

You can be confident that all the brands listed in this post meet my requirements for healthy footwear, but here is a comparison of shape and width across some of the major ones.

The above photo shoes toe box width in order from most narrow to most wide. Note that there is a difference in the shape of the toe box as well as the width of the instep (for example, Splay shoes are wide in the toe box but taper in at the midfoot, versus Vivobarefoot and Tikki which are wide the entire length of the shoe).

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Comments

29 thoughts on “The Best Barefoot Shoes for Kids – Everyday, Winter, Summer”

    1. Hello there! I actually have a review of the Bobux Aspen, one of my only kid reviews. It is a medium width, wide enough for my kids but not extra wide.

    2. Plae are our favorite, hands down!! Most days I look down & see my kids are ALL wearing a pair of some variety of plae shoes.

  1. Hi, Anya,
    The Young Sole Shoes discount didn’t work for me – either that or it didn’t work because I had to order women’s shoes for my big kid.

    1. OH!! And for rain boots, Cat & Jack (target brand) works suprisingly well!! They are flexible, zero drop heel, with a good sized toe bed. And pretty easy to find!

    1. Thanks for reminding me about Plae! I actually just updated the list to include them. I think I didn’t think of them initially because they have a more tapered toe box than I prefer, and some of their models are quite stiff. But they are zero drop and flexible.

    1. It’s hard to say! My kids have quite shallow feet and thin ankles, and they were able to tighten the velcro enough. They also got a size that I expected them to grow into.

      1. I tried out the Kiuu boots for my kiddos (4 & 7) this winter, but they didn’t survive the winter season for us (Michigan). At first they were awesome, they have a really thin, flexible sole. They were a bit narrow, which I knew to expect, but I ordered them a little big and my kids really loved how easy they were to slip on and how light they were. The pink pair were never waterproof and my kid loves all puddles, so we were constantly trying to dry them out, but they have a stink that is not going away. The stitching and fabric is breaking on the sides of the boot where her ball of her foot flexes. The grey boots were waterproof, but the material on the edges of the boot have disintegrated so now they’re not, and the stitching fully broke away from the sole of the boot on one side . . . My kids play outside everyday for between 1-3 hours, on average, in temps between 10-30F, but considering how expensive those boots were I’m disappointed they didn’t hold up better.

        1. Thanks so much for this feedback! Not what I expected, but I am glad to have a firsthand account. The search for a kids barefoot snow boot continues…

  2. Our oldest child has feet too thick in the middle to make Splays work – they work great for our youngest though! Recommendations on good everyday alternatives for kids with larger mid-feet?

      1. Hello Anya. I have a lil guy with thick feet + he’s always worn vivo barefoot with success but they are sold out of just about everything so I took a chance + bought the wildlings. Which I ADORE except for the fact that they are actually VERY narrow. He tried them on + said they need to be wider. Wondering if Be Lenka + Muki shoes are wider in the middle before I run into the same problem.

        1. Oh darn about the Wildling’s! Yes, Mukishoes and Be Lenka are both wider in the midfoot. Be Lenka is the widest in both the toe box and the midfoot and my recommendation for thick feet. Mukishoes taper in at the midfoot a little but, but they’re still wider than Wildling.

    1. I would say that Mukishoes has the most groundfeel after Wildling, along with the sandals from Tikki (but not the sneakers, those are great, but the sole is a little stiffer). Wildling is unique for having an extremely flexible sole, there really isn’t anything else like it.

  3. I ordered Ten Little shoes and found them to be very stiff. We ended up with Splay instead. A much more barefoot feel.

    1. Splay is a great brand. I have heard mixed things about Ten Little, it seems that sometimes they are flexible and other times not (I have a guest review on this blog of them and you can see in the photos that they are pretty flexible, but I’ve seen others where they hardly bend). I have a pair on their way to me and am still trying to solve that mystery.

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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