These barefoot sandals for kids are perfect for summer adventures! Barefoot sandals allow the foot to move naturally to help your child develop strong, healthy feet. They’re lightweight, flexible, and have plenty of room for wiggly toes. This post includes sandals plus water shoes to cover all of your kid’s warm weather adventures.
It’s summer! Which means it’s sandal season. Many kids may prefer to run around actually barefoot, but when they need to slip on a pair of sandals or water shoes, these minimalist options are the next best thing.
Since switching over to barefoot shoes, I’ve realized just how much more comfortable barefoot options are. My feet aren’t being squished into an unnatural shape, or trying to overcompensate for heavy, inflexible soles.
These kid’s barefoot sandals and water shoes have a wide toe box so toes have plenty of room to wiggle, plus they’re zero-drop, flexible, and lightweight. When looking for the best kids’ barefoot sandals, I prioritize comfort and how easy it will be for a child to put the shoes on or pull them off by themselves. Since strappy sandals can be a bit more finicky and tend to slip off on toddlers, I’ve also include mesh and quick-dry water shoes that are a great option too.
Need a pair of shoes too? Then check out our favorite barefoot shoes for kids!
If you want reviews on new barefoot shoes as they come out, check out my Instagram account just for barefoot shoes: @thebarefootshoeguide
What to look for in Barefoot Sandals for Kids
Thin, Flexible Soles
The soles of kids barefoot shoes should mimic being barefoot, which means a minimal amount of material between your foot and the ground. These soles should also be very flexible, which allows a child to move and bend their foot naturally.
Personally, I think around 10 mm provides optimum comfort without sacrificing weight or flexibility, and 5 mm is the sweet spot for providing enough cushion and durability while still giving you a good ground-feel.
Zero-drop sandals are the same thickness from front to back. This means no raised heel bed or added padding around the arch.
Thin soles will naturally lead to a lighter sandal which I think is one of the best benefits of barefoot and minimalist shoes.
This isn’t a barefoot feature, but since we’re talking about kids here, I put durability pretty high on the list of features to look for in shoes. When kids are being wild and free (which is awesome), they can can also be particularly rough on shoes. Since no one wants to buy new shoes on repeat, I’ve included the shoes that generally have a good reputation for quality and durability and noted our experience with the styles we’ve worn the most. You may have a different experience with the shoe, but hopefully this gives you a baseline if you have kids that tend to be tougher on shoes.
For good marks in durability, I’m looking for my child to size out of the shoe before they fall apart, and ideally be in good enough condition to pass down (though I’m not expecting them to look brand new if they’ve had lots of wear).
Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on one of them, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, read our full disclosure. Thank you for your support.
8 Barefoot Sandals for Kids
1 Xero Shoes Z-Trail Sandals
Starts at Kids Size 12 | Retail: $59.99 | Shop Now: Xero Shoes
Xero Shoes, one of the most popular barefoot brands, makes what they call the “ultimate trail-friendly” sandal, the Z-Trail. The Z-Trail were one of my first minimalist adventure sandals and quickly became my go-to for hiking, the beach, kayaking, and basically any warm weather activity.
From my experience, I think the Z-Trails are the ultimate kid-friendly sandal too. They’re just all-around great. They are durable and versatile enough for just about anything you’ll do this summer, but they’re still really lightweight and flexible so they have the benefits of barefoot shoes.
The zero-drop, 10mm sole has enough cushion to be comfortable, but still flexible. There is a heel cup around the back which helps to stop rocks and other debris from getting in between the foot and the sole.
The velcro straps are thick and easy to adjust, and my son has no problem putting these on himself. The toe box area is plenty wide and the front strap that crosses the toes isn’t squishing them. We haven’t experienced any rubbing or chaffing with the straps. They’re really secure, so we don’t need to constantly readjust or have any issues with his foot slipping around or out of these sandals. My son tried a few of the huarache style sandals, and it felt like we had to adjust them pretty often, so these ended up being what he wore most.
As for durability, he fully wore his first pair until he sized out, and is now on the second pair. They still have enough life left to pass down.
Shop Now: Xero Shoes
2 Luna Sandals Lunacitos
Starts at Kids Size 12 | Retail: $60 | Shop Now: Luna Sandals
The kid’s verison of Luna Sandals, the Lunacitos, are awesome adventure sandals. These barefoot sandals for kids are made to “go everywhere, do everything.” They’re lightweight with a super durable Vibram moreflex sole. Like I previously mentioned, sometimes it’s harder for us to get a secure fit on the strappier sandals for kids, so I appreciate that the Lunacitos include the extra tech strap (in blue here) to help with that. If your kid is good with this style, then these Lunas are a great option.
I’ve really liked my Luna Sandals and found them hold up with a lot of wear on the trails. The main issue I’ve had with mine is that the in between the toe strap can twist around, but I can easily untwist it be rewinding the yellow post on the bottom of the shoe.
Shop Now: Luna Sandals | Backcountry
3 Merrell Bare Steps H20 Sneaker
Toddler Size 4 – 10 | Come in Medium and Wide Width | Retail: $40 | Shop Merrell Bare Steps
The Merrell Bare Steps H20 Sneakers are a good balance of protection, barefoot characteristics, durability and affordability. These water shoes for kids include barefoot features like an extra wide toe box, a flexible sole, and they’re easy to slide on and off with a wide velcro strap to secure the foot. They’re easy enough that my two-year-old can pull them off himself. Merrell offers these in both regular and wide; we’ve really liked the wide version for our toddler as like most, he has wider and chubbier feet.
My older son has also worn the Bare Steps sneakers, and I’m pretty impressed with the quality and durability of this whole line. These H20 sneakers are a very similar design, just better materials for water and summer. These barefoot water shoes start at size 4 which great for toddlers, and go through Toddler size 10. For such a great (and affordable) healthy shoe for kids, I wish they made these in larger size.
These are usually $35-$40, but we’ve been able to snag them on sale for $20.
Shop Now: Merrell | Zappos | Backcountry
4 Vivobarefoot Kids Sandals
Toddler US Size 9 – Kid’s US6 | Retail: $68-80 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off | Shop Vivobarefoot
These kind of have the vibe of a barefoot version of crocs. But unlike crocs that are thick, clunky, and flop around, these are super thin, flexible, and attach securely to you child’s foot. The Vivobarefoot Ultra is a lightweight and flexible water shoe made with Vivo’s BLOOM® foam. It’s made by harvesting toxic algae blooms from vital water ways which is pretty cool!
They’re made to take whatever summer throws at you, especially if you’re jumping through puddles, lakes, and creeks all days. These shoes drain quickly and dry fast.
Shop Now: Vivobarefoot
5 Merrell Kids Bare Steps Sandals
Toddler Size 4 – 10 | Come in Medium and Wide Width | Retail: $45 | Shop Merrell Bare Steps
Next up, another style from the Merrell Bare Steps line. The traditional Merrell sandals can be a bit clunky, but these Kids Bare Steps Sandals are truly a minimalist sandal with a flat, flexible sole and wide toe box. The soles have good traction, so these are great for the outdoors. They have the dressier look of buckles, but the straps are actually velcro.
Every style in Merrell’s Bare Steps line is made of 45% recycled materials, so they’re more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
If you are looking for toddler barefoot sandals, the Merrell Bare Steps start at toddler size 4, so they’re great for new walkers. This line also has a regular and wide width option, so they’re perfect for younger kids that tend to have wider feet.
6 Earth Runners Kid’s Sandals
Sizing starts at Child Size 12 | Retail: $53 | Code KELLY10 for 10% off | Earth Runners
Earth Runners makes one style of barefoot sandals for kids that encourages healthy foot development and nature connection. These sandals are made-to-order out of their small workshop in Sonoma County, CA. You can select an either 8mm sole or a 9mm sole with their Earth-Grip hemp footbed. If your child is more sensitive to texture on their feet, then you may want to opt for the 8mm sole without the hemp footbed. I personally really like it, but some people like a smoother footbed like the one pictured below.
I absolutely love my Earth Runner sandals which are the same style. I’ve worn them a ton and they look great after a lot of use.
The bottoms have a copper plug to promote what is called Earthing, which serves to reconnect you to the earth through extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic resonances. Earth Runners are designed to ground you electrically to the Earth.
Shop Now: Earth Runners
7 Unshoes Children’s Keota
The Unshoes mission is to make shoes that enable people to move naturally. Unshoes offers several casual outdoor minimalist sandals, including the children’s Keota sandal. This kids barefoot sandal has a 5mm flexible, zero drop sole. The sole has a very slight upward pull at the toe to help prevent it catching.
These sandals are designed to be easy enough for a child to slip them on and off by themselves. It took some adjusting to get these right so that my son’s feet didn’t slip around. These are very minimalist, so the tradeoff for something so minimal is that the foot isn’t held in place as securely
➳ Sizing: Starts at EU Size 21
➳ Retail: $40, use code nomanbefore10 for 10% off your purchase.
➳ Shop Now: Unshoes
8 Bobux I – Walk Scuba Sandals
Bobux doesn’t advertise itself as a barefoot shoe company, but many of its kid’s shoes are zero-drop with a wide toe box and flexible sole. Bobux has a great range of minimalist sandals for kids, including the super lightweight I-Walk Scuba. The soles are meant to mimic the benefits of barefoot feet, and the two large straps securely and comfortably hold the shoe to your child’s foot.
➳ Sizing: Starts at Toddler 8
➳ Retail: $55
Where to score a good deal on barefoot sandals for kids
Barefoot sandals can be a bit pricey, especially considering that a child will likely only use them for one summer. We watch for holiday sales (Memorial day is usually a good time to snag a pair with a decent discount at the start of summer) or try buying a size or two up after summer is over for the next year. I also look for deals on discount websites like Steep & Cheap (which is owned by Backcountry), Mountain Steals (owned by Moosejaw). The selection is much more limited, but if they do have something you’re looking for, then you can snag it at a deep discount (sometimes 50% or more). I’ve seen the Merrell Bare Steps and Luna Sandals on Steep & Cheap.
Like this post? Pin it here?
I hope this helped you find a great pair of barefoot sandals for your child. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know!