Are you tired of seeing your kids struggle with uncomfortable, restrictive shoes?
Do you want to promote healthy foot development and improve their balance and proprioception?
This article about barefoot shoes for kids (babies and toddlers) is the stepstone to ensuring your child’s feet grow and develop in the healthiest way possible.
Barefoot shoes are designed to provide a close-to-ground feel and allow for natural foot movement, offering a range of benefits for growing feet.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of barefoot shoes for kids and you will a lot of valuable information like:
- what are barefoot shoes for kids and how they work
- what problems can regular shoes create
- what are the benefits of barefoot walking and barefoot shoes for kids
- how to choose the perfect pair for your loved one(s)
- a thorough list of brands producing barefoot shoes for kids (and adults)
Get ready to take a step towards healthier, happier feet – and challenge yourself to keep reading to learn more!
Although the spotlight is on babies and toddlers, the information presented below is valid to the same extent for adults.
What Are Barefoot Shoes? Minimalist And Zero Heel Shoes?
Barefoot shoes are designed to mimic the experience of walking barefoot.
Yet, they have a sole that although as thin as possible, will still protect the feet from direct contact with surfaces that may harm the feet (pathways with debris, hot asphalt, rocky areas, etc.).
The main attributes shoes need to meet to be barefoot are:
2. Zero Drop aka Zero Heel aka Heel-Toe Drop aka Flat Sole
3. Anatomical Toe Shape aka Wide Toe Box
4. No Arch Support aka Reinforcements (cushions, springs, etc.)
5. Very Thin Sole ( ideally not thicker than 8 mm)
7. Feet-bound – from toes to heel, the feet need to always be in contact with the shoes’ soles
The benefits of these attributes are disseminated in the below chapters.
Barefoot Shoes vs Minimalist Shoes
Most of the time, people use “barefoot” and “minimalist” interchangeably.
This is 99% correct.
The minimalist shoes compared to the barefoot ones meet the above attributes BUT have poorer flexibility and/or minimal reinforcements.
The purpose is to increase the resistance in time of the products.
They are generally recommended for older children and adults who put their shoes through a lot of effort and can wear them out faster.
Ideally, the option should be barefoot but minimalist shoes are better than high heels or thick sole ones.
Same as minimalist shoes, the zero-heel refers to the fact that the heel is on the same level as the rest of the sole.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have cushions or reinforcement.
Same as for minimalist, zero-heel ≠ barefoot.
When looking for barefoot shoes for kids, check at least for the attributes mentioned above.
If you are unsure about a product being barefoot I suggest:
- check the product’s description on the vendor’s website (barefoot shoes for kids tend to have distinctive badges)
- check the vendor’s FAQ
- contact the vendor via phone, chat, e-mail, etc., and ask the relevant questions
- check online for reviews (written or video)
- find another vendor if you can’t find clear answers to your questions and you have any doubts
DO NOT let this critical aspect affect your baby’s future and well-being just because you are in a hurry.
How Do Barefoot Shoes Work?
The barefoot shoes for kids have the same purpose as the regular shoes but they do not cause the problems the regular ones may, in time.
Barefoot walking and/or barefoot shoes are good paths to choose from.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean all the shoes out there except barefoot will lead to foot problems but they increase the risk.
Same as with smoking, not all smokers develop cancer.
Pretty sure everyone has at least one great-great-great-grandfather that smoked unfiltered and lived up to 100.
The question is, do you want to take the risk?
Based on worldwide medical reports of the past 10 years, foot-related pain and problems are growing more and more in number because of the “evolution” of shoes as we know them today.
Let me drop some real facts to give you some food for thought:
1. Treating foot problems is expensive as hell
2. Most developed problems are irreversible (even surgery can’t fix them 100%)
3. Treatment of some problems is covered only by private insurance
4. Walking is a bare necessity for a normal life and essential for the wellbeing
5. Losing the ability to walk increases the probability of other health problems
Now the real question is, why wouldn’t you eliminate this risk from your child’s life?
There are more and more studies proving that barefoot shoes for kids genuinely contribute to a better life.
It seems that in certain areas even the performance is better for the kids wearing barefoot shoes.
If you want to read an interesting study about this, conducted on kids from Germany and South Africa, follow this link.
Baby Barefoot Walking
This a short reminder that WE ALL STARTED BAREFOOT an unclear number of years ago.
I would say we did pretty well, considering we are still around.
The evolutionary history of mankind shows that barefoot walking is a biologically natural situation.
The use of footwear is necessary only on unnatural substrates, (maybe) in (some) athletics, and some pathologies.
Current data suggests that footwear failing to respect natural foot shape and function will ultimately alter the morphology and the biomechanical behavior of the foot.
This will lead to pain or medical problems at various levels, not necessarily at the foot level (e.g spine, hips, etc.).
The sensory system (touch, taste, vision, hearing, and smell) is the primary system setting the foundation for higher brain centers to grow upon.
There are also 2 other systems equally important, if not even more important for babies:
- The Proprioceptive System
- The Vestibular System
Proprioception is the ability to perceive the motion and position of our bodies in space and is generated by receptors located within our joints, connective tissue, and muscles.
When activated by pressure and movement, proprioceptors send direct signaling to the brain telling it how the body is oriented.
The vestibular system is the creation of balance and coordination as changes in the center of gravity, posture, and head position shift.
As babies gain awareness through the five primary senses, they begin generating deliberate movements and gradually learn to hold up their heads, roll over, stand, crawl, and eventually start walking.
The direct contact with the surface the babies are walking on helps them learn to control their balance.
Guess what happens if you give them shoes with rigid thick soles?
Exactly! They might have delays in learning to walk properly or they can develop walking problems.
I am sure everyone has seen babies walking funny, Humpty Dumpty-like.
Or maybe your own baby acts like that but you think it’s normal.
Check their shoes because that can be one of the reasons.
99%, they are wearing something like this (or worse):
Please, allow your baby to walk barefoot as much as possible and as long as it’s safe.
Barefoot walking is essential for them to develop neuromuscular strength, spacial orientation, balance, and coordination.
Have baby barefoot shoes, if possible, as a backup when the situation requires it.
8 Benefits Of Barefoot Shoes For Kids
In order for babies to walk properly, it’s essential for them to find balance.
This is best achievable when their feet can feel the terrain as much as possible and send signals to the brain.
The brain will then figure out where the body is in space and will prevent tumbling.
If their feet soles can’t feel it because the shoe’s sole is too thick, the communication is poor or incorrect.
The thinner the sole of the shoe, the more information the brain receives through the neurotransmitters in the feet.
Imagine driving a car blindfolded.
So why would you blindfold your baby’s feet while they are trying to achieve one of their most important, yet basic skills, walking?
2. Muscular Strenght
Let’s say they find their balance, but without properly developed muscles they will be able to stand in the best-case scenario.
With a thin and flexible sole, wide toe box, lightweight, and the lack of reinforcements a wider range of muscles are engaged while attempting to walk or during walking.
This means they will gain confidence in themselves and be able to walk unattended way faster than on thick-sole shoes.
Just so you know: 200000 nerve endings! The foot's sole has the highest concentration of nerve endings in the body.
3. Toe Strenght
The intricate bones and joints in the feet are critical for both balance and the posture of the lower body.
More toe strength means better biomechanical movement and better foot control overall.
Having strong toes (and feet) is important for the stability of the posterior chain.
Toes play a particularly important part in walking.
As you probably may have noticed, babies tend to “claw” with their toes on the surface as they advance.
They are basically using their toes, along with the nerve endings in the soles of their feet, to get a sense of the surface they’re walking on.
How’s that gonna work with 1in/2.5cm soles?
4. Brain Development
You will ask yourself, “What do barefoot shoes have to do with brain development?“
As you already know from the review of the Lovevery Play Kits, 90% of brain development occurs during childhood years.
The stimulation from the feet while walking barefoot or using barefoot shoes for kids provides the most benefit to the developing brain.
Your baby’s feet receive more sensory input while wearing barefoot shoes which translates into better constant and better brain stimulation.
So Montessori toys or activities alone are not enough.
5. Bunion And Hammer Toe-Free Life
Two of the most common problems at feet level are:
- Bunions – check Wikipedia here to understand more
- Hammer Toe – check Wikipedia here to understand more
I am sure that some of you, after checking Wikipedia or googling, just realized you have one or even both.
Only to satisfy your curiosity, these conditions are more and more frequent because of the “good” quality of the shoes.
According to some recent studies, 1 out of 5 people has at least 1 of the 2 conditions mentioned above.
It appears that the bunions are more frequent than the hammer toe, currently.
Also, they are more frequent in women than in men.
These 2 conditions appear as a consequence of a very tight toe box that is squishing the toes.
My wife has bunions but with the help of barefoot shoes, she was able to reduce the pain to a bearable level.
Although, wearing barefoot shoes helps, unfortunately, these issues cannot be reverted without surgery.
Going back to your baby, why on earth would you want to impact your baby’s growth and life in such a painful way?
The barefoot shoes for kids are coming with a wide toe box that will allow toes to move freely and prevent any “squishy” situation.
Pain-free life ahead!
Just so you know: The total growth of the foot completes somewhere between 14 and 16 years old. To encourage correct growth, it is essential for children to wear appropriate shoes.
6. Free Foot Reflexotherapy
For thousands of years, we’ve been massaging our feet to reduce or improve different conditions.
Although not scientifically proven yet, reflexotherapy (foot massage) is widely used during our times to relieve many disorders.
What is certain, after said session, the frontal cortex activates thus leading to a significant increase in beta and gamma waves.
Beta waves are 13-30 Hz and are associated with concentration and focus.
Gamma waves are 30 Hz to 80 Hz and help the brain process information more quickly and effectively.
Gamma waves can be increased generally through meditation and other mindfulness practices.
Without going too deep, we can definitely say there are at least a few positive aspects behind it.
You can check here the results of a study that was targeting the effects of foot reflexotherapy.
By facilitating your baby, later toddler, to walk barefoot or wear barefoot shoes for kids, you provide free sessions of foot reflexotherapy that will help brain development.
There is no foot massage if the shoes’ soles are 1in/2.5cm thick.
7. No Pain, Yes Gain
We are all familiar with the concept of “no pain, no gain”.
Trust me, there is no gain in the pain generated by wearing inappropriate shoes.
The entire body can be affected by it but especially:
- leg muscles
- Achilles tendon
Because the feet need to move freely, the sole needs to bend at ease to prevent, reduce or relieve pain.
Another side effect of a not bending sole, over time the muscles will atrophy and pain will install.
The last thing you want from a baby learning to walk is muscular pain or atrophy.
8. Impact Absorption
Babies walking barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes for kids will have stronger foot muscles.
This will lead to stronger arches.
Ultimately, altogether their tiny feet will be prepared to absorb the impact of walking on various hard surfaces without the need for arch support.
When wearing shoes with reinforcements, there is no contribution to the muscular strength of their feet.
Good muscular strength will give babies confidence in walking without tumbling and even running.
I constantly fail not to compare our daughter with other kids of her age.
First, we were amazed at how stable she was at an early age (9 months).
Now, we are shocked at how fast she is running at 2 years old without falling.
Currently, we are facing a big challenge convincing her to keep her shoes on when we go hiking.
Are Barefoot Shoes Good For Kids?
“A simple wraparound of leather” is the perfect description of what barefoot shoes should be.
Adapted to the technology and the environment of our time, of course.
Babies should be BAREFOOT as long and as often as possible.
Most babies start their first steps somewhere between 9 to 11 months and that should happen in the comfort of their home, barefoot.
After 1 to 3 months from their first steps, they will reach the point of walking constantly without external help.
A new world will now open for them and some shoes might be appropriate (e.g. if it’s cold or they walk in some areas that may cause them injuries).
Even now, let them walk barefoot as much as possible.
I know it’s hard because we’ve been there, “Ohhh but she has so tiny and fragile feet“.
Although I grew barefoot up to 7, I couldn’t let my baby girl walk 100% barefoot.
Guilty as charged.
Do you think I am bad? My wife didn’t want to let her walk barefoot AT ALL.
We compromised on a 50-50 barefoot time vs. barefoot shoes, and our daughter got her first soft soles from Bobux.
We followed the girl cliche and went for pink and unicorn.
Alternative To Barefoot Shoes
As mentioned above, the babies (0 to 12 months) should go barefoot.
In certain conditions, barefoot shoes are appropriate.
Let me break to you, there aren’t alternatives to barefoot.
It’s barefoot or it’s not like it’s iPhone or it’s not.
Shoes with a minimalist design that still allows natural foot movement is the closest thing to barefoot.
Look for shoes made from breathable materials, with thinner, more flexible soles, wider toe boxes, and fewer restrictive features like arch support or rigid heel counters.
Do not worry about the price, despite the general belief that barefoot shoes for kids are expensive, they are not.
They are at least on the same price level as any other established brands like Nike, Addidas, etc.
How To Find The Right Size For Barefoot Shoes For Kids
You will find various videos on Youtube or guides on various websites.
My one piece of advice to you is to ignore them.
5 Steps to get the correct size of the barefoot shoes (or at least try)
- Decide which brand(s) you wanna buy from.
- Look on that brand’s website for the size guide because every brand has its own sizing (unfortunately, size 18EU/3US/2UK can be different from one to another) and follow it.
- When you check sizing pay attention to their hints but especially to the width and length. Most brands provide the insole’s values for the two, so you need to add extra for the baby’s growing feet. Keep in mind, they tell you the size of the insole not the size of the baby’s feet.
- If you buy through a retailer, check the sizing on the brand’s page. The retailers also provide a sizing guide, the problem is it’s not brand specific.
- Chat with them. Most of the renowned brands have online chats or WhatsApp or Messenger you can reach out quickly and get assistance.
Sometimes, even if you do it by the book, the shoes won’t fit, therefore I am giving you below a list of tips and tricks that will make your life so much easy.
Also, a size chart to help you narrow it down a bit faster.
Barefoot Shoes For Kids Size Chart
Below you can find a representative size chart from 0 to 48 months.
This list is a guide to help you out narrowing down the size and does not guarantee a 1:1 match with all the brands in the market.
As mentioned above, please refer to each brand’s own sizing charts and guides.
*The inches and centimeters number is referring to the length of the shoe’s insole.
10 Tips And Tricks On Purchasing Barefoot Shoes For Kids
The list below it’s obviously non-exhaustive and I would really like to extend it with your help. Please comment at the bottom if you have something to share and I will make sure it’s added to this list (considering it’s valuable).
1. When purchasing a brand online for the first time, pick one with fast shipping and ideally, free returns.
If possible, pick up the first pair in the store or at least try it out.
It will help your sanity in the long run.
Valid point also for online retailers stocking multiple brands.
2. After you decide on the product, go to Google and search for its exact name.
Google will pop you sometimes valuable ads or results on the first page that might give you options on discounts.
As I am writing this post (during 2022 Black Friday) I managed to save $70 on a pair of SoleRunner boots for my wife just by doing this simple thing.
I found them on another website at a very huge discount and with free delivery.
3. Buy 2 pairs of shoes, the one that fits according to your measurements and the next one.
It’s easier to return the one that doesn’t fit than to return it and wait for a new order.
And if you bought it on sale, there are chances it will be over, or the size will be sold-out or it was a one-time newsletter subscription voucher or first-order voucher.
This very well applies to clothes and everything else that has a size.
I am telling you, we’ve saved a few thousand with this approach so far.
4. Always get the “one-time” vouchers.
This applies to all online shopping not only shoes.
Many online shops give a percentage or amount of discount for newsletter subscriptions.
Just create (or use existing) e-mails and subscribe to them for that voucher.
You can use this tool to have a new e-mail to receive the discount code and it takes about 10 seconds to create it.
One example I can give you is Phillips.
They constantly run on these vouchers and I constantly use them to save a couple of euros.
In case of new customer vouchers, just create another account using a different e-mail.
They generally track by e-mail and not by IP, name, or address.
I know it’s not totally ethical, but come on, do you really believe they are charging you the correct price?
5. Pick a brand that has options for the entire family and ideally, all seasons.
It has so many advantages to purchasing everything under the same roof:
- one order
- one payment
- one return if needed
- one e-mail subscription or creation for a potential discount
- potential discount to a bigger amount
- potential free shipping due to a bigger amount
Basically, less effort and bigger potential savings.
6. If you can’t pick one brand for the entire family, at least try to pick a retailer that has all the brands you need.
The reasons behind #5 are valid here also.
7. If you don’t find any discounts on the online store of choice, search for affiliate websites (such as mine) that provide you discounts with a certain code assigned to them by the vendor.
Do them a favor and use their redirecting links so they get a few pennies in the process.
It doesn’t cost you anything but it will save you some money for sure and help them run their business.
It’s a WIN-WIN.
8. Test in-store when possible and buy online with a discount.
We do this every time we want to test out a new brand or we feel like Anastasia should move to the next size, to avoid the hassle of ordering and returning.
I scout the models online and get all the possible discounts.
Then we go to the stores, try them out to make sure they fit and we like them.
You would be surprised how a picture can trick you, especially if you are trying a new brand.
One thing that can always surprise you when buying online it’s the color.
I am 100% it happened to you already a few times and you know what I mean.
Then when you are convinced, get back home get a coffee or a tee, summon the power of the discounts, and place the order.
Again, this might not sound totally ethical to the store owners or employees but it’s about you and your budget.
In the end, you are investing in your life’s project that has quite an extensive timeline.
Save your resources whenever you can, you WILL need them.A seasoned Project Manager
9. Never take emotional decisions or speed-buy.
Ideally, buy the shoes before your baby or toddler really needs them.
If you need them desperately, for example, to use them on a trip or in kindergarten, you are open to emotional decisions like:
- buy without using the available discounts
- buy without the proper research (e.g. by a new brand the same size as your favorite one without checking their size chart)
- buy more expensive
- buy for the sake of buying (e.g. a model or a color that doesn’t fit your baby’s outfit)
- make errors during the checkout process (e.g. send the goods to the wrong address)
These errors will cost you at least time, and most likely some money.
Therefore, take your time and don’t rush.
10. Do your homework, and check some reviews.
Although a part of #9, it can very well be standalone.
If possible, find feedback from the people that purchased and used the product.
Obviously, don’t take it for granted, and use your own judgment.
But if 10 people are saying the soles are coming off after 1 month, it definitely raises a red flag about the product’s quality.
Also by reading reviews dedicated to barefoot shoes for kids, you might find details that are not available on the vendor’s page, including some real pictures.
The Best Barefoot Shoes For Kids Brands
Baby Barefoot Shoes Brands (0-12 months)
If you find the necessity of getting some shoes for your child between 0 and 12 months, you can go for any brands you have around you as long as the shoes fit the attributes I mentioned above.
To make your life easier, please find below a couple of brands we used or are currently using:
DottyFish is a company from the UK that is doing a lovely job in the barefoot shoes for kids department.
Compared to their competitors they have done their homework and on top of quality products their website is also very well organized allowing you to quickly go into specifics, like:
- all shoes with animals
- all pink shoes
- all matching sets
What we like:
- pure barefoot
- 100% leather
- worldwide shipping for shockingly low prices
- barefoot options up to 5 years old
- wide range of products (sneakers, sandals, slippers, T-bar, soft soles, etc.)
- matching sets – the perfect gift for any occasion (e.g. baby shower, baby birth, etc.)
- decent prices – our friend Freddie the Fox goes for £16-17/$21/€20 for example, but in general Dottyfish‘s prices are much lower than their competitors
- they are Trusted Shops verified, which means if anything happens to your order, you get your money back guaranteed, up to £2500. This feature is the last drop if you have doubts about an online shop.
Where to buy:
US-based company with mindblowing products.
With almost 40 years of experience in hand-making barefoot and minimalist shoes, they have a wide range of products and models from 0 to adult.
What we like:
- For some items, you can pick the front and back colors and the motif on the front side. Nice touch with the motif, you can let the elf (aka the employee hand-crafting the shoes) pick it for you.
- But wait, there is more. Even if you customize the shoes, you can still return them. I don’t know any other company with these exact features. Generally, when you customize something, it’s in the T&C that you can’t return it.
- Made in the USA, Oregon to be specific
- barefoot and minimalist options(kids and adults)
- 100% leather
- worldwide free shipping under some conditions – considering the prices, I would say guaranteed free shipping
- cool accessories (have to mention the merino wool socks since we are the merino family)
Where to buy:
The first shoes our baby girl had, were from Bobux, a company from New Zeeland.
We kept them as a token.
What we like:
- pure barefoot
- 100% leather
- worldwide presence in-store (partners) and online (country-based stores)
If you are not from the EU, I suggest starting with Bobux.com.
If you are, you can check what models are available on:
If you are unhappy with the variety on Amazon, go back to Bobux.com and select your country’s store to see the full range available in your area.
Founded in Tyrol, Austria by the Giesswein family, the company is focusing mainly on creating a wide variety of merino wool shoes for kids and adults.
They also have a solid range of clothing and accessories merino wool based.
In their online store you can find for kids and adults:
- merino shoes
- sports shoes
- accessories (socks, blankets, etc.)
- clothing (beanies, vests, hoodies, ponchos, etc.)
- and more
My wife’s body works properly at around 28-30°C/82-86°F and as you can imagine we are a merino wool family, therefore a Giesswein family.
Just so you know: One of the most important attributes of merino wool, is temperature regulation. When cold it keeps the body warm and when hot it keeps the body cool. If you ever wondered how come the sheep don't faint in high temperatures or freeze at minus degrees, now you know.
What we like:
- pure barefoot
- wide variety of barefoot merino wool baby shoes, both in models and colors
- temperature regulating feature on all merino wools products
- velcro mechanism
- worldwide availability with free shipping and returns – own store and also Amazon
- the wool is not itchy
Where to buy:
Mejale it’s an interesting brand that exists mostly on Amazon and a few items on Walmart.
Although they don’t have their own website and store, their products are quite qualitative.
They resemble the Bobux soft soles but at 50% of the price and still good quality.
What we like:
- price – the most affordable brand for soft soles, they range between $14/€16 and $20/€25
- products range from 0 to 2 years old
- wide range of designs, with or without prints
- pure barefoot
- 100% leather
Where to buy:
Obviously, there are many brands available on the market, especially local brands.
Therefore be open to any affordable options around you and pay attention to the barefoot attributes and the materials they are made of.
Local brands can be of equal quality as the renowned ones but at a better price.
Other brands worth mentioning, although some of their options are not completely barefoot:
- Old Soles – they only sell through partners, including Amazon
- Tikki Shoes – a good range of handmade barefoot shoes for kids and adults. Worldwide shipping. Not the most modern design. They also sell through partners but unfortunately, Amazon is not one of them.
- Zeazoo – Tikki’s twin but with a larger variety of models
- Robeez – range similar to Mejale. The brand is available both on their webshop and on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Amazon DE with a wide range of models and designs. I love their water shoes.
- Froddo – Croatian brand of very good quality. Anastasia’s first winter boots were from them but they have a nice range of barefoot pre-walkers. Available on Amazon US, Amazon DE, and Amazon UK but also in other retailers. A list of worldwide shops selling Froddo can be found here.
Toddler Barefoot Shoes Brands (1-3 years)
Here things get way easier.
I am talking about the shoes, not the babies.
You will be so busy that you will not even realize how fast the time passed and your baby will be 1 year old.
From this point forward, although I am still calling my own a baby, your baby becomes a toddler.
Most likely, new shoes will be needed because of the growing feet and the increased time spent walking or running around outdoors.
As I was saying, it’s getting a bit easier because the number of players in the market grows significantly.
There is still a bit of a problem as most of them offer products starting from size 20EU/5US/4UK or even 24EU/8US/7UK.
There is a gap between 18/3/2 and 19/4/3 you might need to accommodate, especially for girls.
But there are options so no need to worry about it.
1. Froddo – Products available in size 17EU/2US/1UK and up
When we moved from soft soles to barefoot shoes, we got from a local store the pair of Froddo boots displayed above.
Our daughter liked them so much that she wore them even indoors for a while.
Then we got her a nice pair of winter boots also from Froddo that she used the entire season.
Exquisite quality, I must say.
100% genuine leather, flexible rubber soles, and resistant seams.
They are as new after several months of trashing.
The downside with this Croatian brand is they only sell through partners.
In the US the brand is not so popular, yet you can get your hands on a few models on PedTerra.com or HappyLittleSoles.co.uk for instance.
A couple of models are available even on Amazon US.
A list of worldwide shops selling Froddo can be found on their website here.
Unfortunately, that list is not exhaustive so keep an eye open if you like the brand.
Please keep in mind that not all Froddo products are barefoot so pay attention to this aspect when purchasing.
2. Vivobarefoot – Products available in size 20EU/5US/4UK and up
This British company has a mission, that’s for sure.
They make quite a big deal about sustainability and regeneration.
Among the materials used in the production of their shoes:
- naturally tanned leather sourced from small farmers in Europe- no chemicals used in the tanning process
- algae EVA – during the process of extraction, algae release a high amount of oxygen
- Merino wool (sourced from Australian Woolmark-certified farms) – the same as Giesswein, they use this temperature-regulating material in some models
- hemp fibers (instead of cotton) – hemp is way more sustainable than cotton, using significantly less water (~20.000 liters of water for 1 kg of cotton vs. ~300-500 liters for 1 kg of hemp) and way less many chemicals to grow
- recycled plastic is used in some of their products
Just so you know: Hemp has similar temperature-regulating properties as merino wool.
Vivobarefoot products are available in:
- their online stores: Vivobarefoot.com, Vivobarefoot.de, Vivobarefoot.at, etc.
- in various online retail stores:
- almost any decent barefoot stockist
3. Splay – Products available in size 24EU/8US/7UK and up
Splay is a US brand producing affordable barefoot shoes for kids and adults.
Compared to their competitors in the barefoot niche, they focus on 3 models:
- Explore – their first design with velcro
- Freestyle – basically a grown-up Explore but with laces
- Freestyle Slip-On – Explore but no velcro or laces
Important to mention, the upper part is 100% cotton.
Due to this, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- the smell – a lot of people reported a very disturbing smell before and after wearing them – the good news is, you can throw them in the washing machine as they are quite resistant
- hard to clean (especially the light colors) – when something gets in the cotton, stays in the cotton – not the biggest inconvenient for small kids because they’ll grow them out quickly
- fading colors – cotton > dirt >washing machine – you get the point
Since they ship worldwide (almost), quite easy to get a pair or 2 in any corner of the world.
4. Wildling – Products available in size 18EU/3US/2UK and up
Recently, Wildling (a German brand) started crawling into our family after my wife got a pair of Zora.
Now my daughter wants the same.
They use extensively Pomeranian wool from a partner in Germany, especially for their winter shoes.
They also use hemp and cotton as responsibly as possible (both new and recycled cotton).
Most of their shoes are handmade and quite a fair amount, although not waterproof, are quite a water repellant, especially the wool models.
Out of this first pair of Wildlings, we have the following feedback:
- extra-light, compared to other barefoot shoes for kids
- wide enough toe box to accommodate Lavinia’s bunions
- upper material repels the dirt pretty efficiently
- no holes in the material so far
5. Primigi – Products available in size 18EU/3US/2UK and up
Primigi is an Italian brand going way back.
Important to remember, not all their shoes are barefoot.
They use premium materials in their products, such as genuine bovine leather and wool.
We recently tried the boots in the picture and our daughter is fond of them.
They feel nice and, although they look robust, they are exceptionally flexible.
The wool inside makes them perfect for the winter.
When it comes to purchasing Primigi shoes, both for adults and kids, they only sell through partners.
They also sell through Amazon, which makes life so easy:
In the US they are also available through Zappos.
In the EU, apart from Amazon, they are available through Zalando.com (including country-specific stores) and various stockists.
You can find a store locator here.
Now don’t get me wrong, these 5 companies are only some of which we are familiar with and we personally used/are using their products.
I am going to list below some other great baby and toddler barefoot suppliers that you may wanna take a look at.
Please keep in mind the most important aspects for you when choosing a brand but nevertheless, all should meet the barefoot attributes.
BeLenka – size 25EU/9US/8UK and up – worldwide shipping
Tikki – size 18EU/3US/2UK and up – worldwide shipping
Mukishoes – size 24EU/8US/7UK and up – worldwide shipping
Merrell – size 19EU/4US/3UK and up – US-only shipping (available for other regions through partners)
Origo – size 24EU/8US/7UK and up – North-America delivery only – was not able to find them in Europe yet
Bisgaard – size 18EU/3US/2UK and up – EU shipping (available for other regions through partners)
MagicalShoes – size 20EU/5US/4UK and up – worldwide shipping
Zeazoo – size 18EU/3US/2UK and up – worldwide shipping
Xero – size 30EU/12US/11UK and up – worldwide shipping (multiple online stores)
If you fancy checking an extensive list of barefoot brands, check this link out.
Online stockists for barefoot shoes for kids
1. Happy Little Soles – UK retailer
With over 40 brands available, this should be your go-to online store if you can’t find what you’re looking for in-store in terms of barefoot shoes for kids.
They also have adult products and ship internationally including the US – full list of countries here.
Filter by brand available (my favorite).
2. PedTerra – US retailer
PedTerra is one of the few retailers in the US providing access to barefoot European brands.
With their international shipping, they also provide access to North American brands to Europeans.
Same as Happy Little Soles they also stock adult products.
Currently, the home of almost 20 brands, among them well-known BeLenka, Vivobarefoot, Froddo, Bisgaard, Mukishoes, etc.
Filter by brand available.
3. Zappos – US retailer
In the online business for over 20 years, Zappos is the go-to for many people because of a few strong reasons:
- permanent free shipping on any order value
- 365-day free returns
- over 1000 brands to choose from (including clothing)
But there is a catch, they only ship to the US and to all US territories and military APO/FPO addresses.
They do stock a couple of brands producing barefoot shoes for kids like Bogs, Livie & Luca, Merrell, Naturino, Old Soles, Pediped, Primigi, and Xero.
As expected, the filter by the brand is a lifesaver here.
4. ZaMi – EU retailer from Spain
With around 20 brands available, Zami is a good place to “fish” for brands that aren’t very common in other retailers.
For example, it gives Europeans access to Merrell (which ships only in the US if you remember).
It’s also one of the online retailers stocking the famous Vibram 5 Fingers.
I like that they stock a wide range of barefoot socks and sandals on top of their diversified range of barefoot shoes for kids.
Filter by brand and worldwide shipping available.
5. Mugavik – EU retailer from Estonia
Basically, they are the better version of Tupsunupsu (below) in terms of the website.
Also, they stock a lot of quality barefoot brands unavailable in other retailers’ shops.
They ship worldwide except in the UK.
I dislike that they do not have so many models for some of the brands but still a good choice.
The filter-by-brand option is also available.
Same as ZaMi, they do stock some hard-to-find brands like bLifestyle and Mikk Line (mostly known for their clothing).
6. Tupsunupsu – EU retailer from Estonia
Worldwide shipping retailer of many renowned brands.
They also hold in stock many nordic and eastern European brands that are not so well-known (yet) or available in the more popular online stores.
Since it’s not very popular, you might be able to find some models that are out of stock everywhere else.
It happened to us with a pair of Froddo shoes.
The website is a bit messy, with no filter by-brand option but if you know what you are looking for it’s worth the effort.
7. BPrimal – AU/NZ retailer
One of the few retailers in the area giving access to barefoot companies from Europe and the US hassle-free.
Although they don’t stock many brands of barefoot shoes for kids, they do stock quite a big number of models on the ones they have.
Also, I believe the brand selection is quite smart since they cover everything from business to hiking.
Even if you are the pickiest person alive, I still believe it’s impossible to not find something you’d like.
I hope you enjoyed this avalanche of information as much as I did and what I provided will help you taking healthy decisions regarding your baby’s feet and why not, your own.
As promised, you should now have a clear picture of barefoot walking and barefoot shoes’ benefits for kids.
Also, you should know a couple of brands and places to start your barefoot journey.
I will make a follow-up post in this direction where I will try to capture all brands producing barefoot shoes for kids.
I am looking forward to your feedback regarding your experience with the barefoot journey so please drop a comment (or more) below.
Until next time, I wish you good health, and may the best decisions nest in your mind.