The Best Shoe Brands For Kids, According To Podiatrists

The Best Shoe Brands For Kids, According To Podiatrists

Online shopping for children’s shoes can be overwhelming, so we asked some experts where to start.

While Dr. Patrick McEneaney, doctor of podiatric medicine and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists and certified pedorthist Michael Fishkin both prefer in-person shoe shopping, they know online shopping is often more convenient for busy or long-distance families. So when buying on the web, it’s imperative to ensure the shoes fit correctly after they get delivered.

To check the fit, McEneaney likes the time-honored, thumb between the big toe and the top of their shoe — giving their quickly-growing feet a little room to without being too big. “Otherwise, you know, you’re buying shoes way too often,” he said.

Even if your kid is not a track star, Fishkin recommends getting them running shoes, for shock absorption and stability in school, gym class and other activities. “Running shoes are typically more secure on the feet, so they can help prevent injuries and be a little bit more protective,” Fishkin told HuffPost. For odor control and breathability, Fishkin likes shoes with a mesh upper (like many running shoes) and emphasizes looking for something with a rubber outsole on the bottom, as foam can grind down and interfere with your kid’s stride and posture.

Dr. McEneaney and Fishkin also instructed to look for ample, if not extra support in the middle part of the shoe (around your kiddo’s arch), to relieve stress to the ball of the foot, ensuring their heel doesn’t pop out when they move and confirming that the width is correct. “Look at their feet while they’re standing before you buy shoes,” Dr. McEneaney said, explaining that many brands offer wide options for kids.

The expert’s last advice: while it’s less cost-effective, stick to new shoes, as hand-me-downs or second-hand options can affect your kid’s walk. And when online shopping, decide what type of shoe your kid needs, screenshot a few options and then have your kid choose a color from your pictures — instead of showing them a whole webpage and risking disappointment or overwhelm.

To further help navigate the world of kids shoes, the experts break down their favorite brands and styles.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change. The experts consulted for this story do not necessarily endorse the products ahead unless otherwise noted.


Asics Gel Ventures

Without hesitation, Michael Fishkin, certifiedpedorthist said New Balance and Asics are his “go-to” shoes to recommend for kids. “They take their adult shoes and they size them appropriately for children,” he said. “They incorporate a lot of their higher-end technology for adults into a kid shoe.”

With Asics, Fishkin likes the Gel Venture style, saying they’re a more cost-effective model with excellent cushioning shock absorbency, great traction and importantly, a ton of fun colors.

New Balance

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishis

For New Balance, Fishkin likes the kids’ Fresh Foam Arishi. The sneaker boasts a bungee lace, top strap with Velcro, ultra cushion, lightweight ride and a rubber outsole. Though he also likes the kids’ Fresh Foam X 1080v13, saying “That’s New Balance’s top neutral cushion running shoe for adults ultra plush, ultra cushion, smooth ride, sized down for kids’ feet.” Fishkin says New Balance offers some great wide and extra wide options for kids’ shoes, which is another plus for the brand.


Cat & Jack

Fishkin (a father himself) knows that sometimes your kid needs something other than running sneakers. If you’re going to something formal, taking pictures or just have non-sneaker plans, he suggests shoes from Target’s kid line Cat & Jack.

“For the duration of time that the kids are going to be in them, if it’s for a fancier function, or just a casual day, typically what I recommend is Cat & Jack for kids,” he said.

Billy Footwear

Billy Footwear

Looking for a more accessible option? Fishkin was excited to tell us about Billy Footwear, a universally designed shoewear brand with options for children and adults. Their kicks come in a bunch of kid-approved colors and styles, give ample support and protection and have an ingenious zipper opening to encourage independence in wearers with limited mobility.


FeetCity water shoes

If you forsee tide-pooling or pool days in your kid’s future, Dr. Natasha Bhagat, doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists wants you to grab shoes for that to. “A good water shoe like FeetCity can help your kiddo stay safe during their summer fun,” Bhagat told HuffPost.



Dr. Bhagat encourages looking for kid’s shoes with a round, wide toe box. “You want their little toes to have room to wiggle and build strength as well” she said. She likes the options from Plae, which can go in the washing machine for easy cleaning.



Another option you may even love for yourself, Dr. Bhagat likes Birkenstock for kids, with their anatomically shaped footbeds and lightweight construction. Options like this EVA style have three buckles, making them extra adjustable.

Stride Rite

Stride Rite

Dr. Michelle Castiello, a board-certified podiatrist at Scarsdale Medical Group/White Plains Hospital says that shoes should be easy for kids to put on themselves — though she still recommends grabbing something with a full back.

While Dr. Castiello doesn’t endorse any particular brands, Dr. Bhagat likes Stride Rite, which have a huge selection of Velcro and bungee shoes that are supportive without demanding tie-skills.

See Kai Run

See Kai Run

Dr. Castiello explains you want a grippy outsole to prevent slipping. “Look for a tread with deeper grooves. A wider base is also better for kids that have stability issues when walking,” she said.

Dr. Bhagat adds that some flexibility in the top of the shoe allows for natural movement and growth, but you still want something pretty solid and stable. For this, the doctor recommends the brand See Kai Run.

“Kids usually do more high-impact activities, and you want the shoes to be able to withstand those forces,” she said.


And spruce them up with laces

Being a parent, Fishkin knows firsthand that the lessons of foot health may not always be enough to get a kid excited about their supportive shoes. To make a practical pair a little more of a party, he suggests swapping in colorful or patterned shoe laces your kids will love, to make their steady shoes a little more enticing.

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