A couple of kids sitting on the grass, hugging and wearing shoes made of different types of materials

Most Suitable Materials for Kids’ Shoes

Choosing the right materials for kids’ shoes should imply the right materials for kids’ needs and proper development. In order to ensure that kids’ feet are supported, ventilated, and flexible, their shoes must be constructed with quality materials. 

Thus, what materials are the most suitable for kids’ shoes

The answer largely depends on kids’ needs, activities, and, of course, their styles. However, in general, it is always a good idea to opt for natural materials such as leather, cotton, natural rubber, and suede rather than artificial materials. 

Now, let’s check different kinds of fabrics, their pros, and cons, and find the most suitable ones for your bubba!



Most Popular Materials for Kid’s Shoes

There are different types of shoes for kids for different purposes; thus, there are different materials for crafting this footwear. Let’s check some of the most popular ones:

  • Natural leather
  • Natural suede 
  • Natural rubber
  • Natural fiber: cotton and bamboo
  • Synthetic leather
  • Synthetic fiber: microfibre and polyester
  • Merino wool

What Are the Most Common Materials Used for Kids’ Shoes?

Even though that kids usually choose their footwear according to the design and style, the most important aspect to consider when buying shoes is the material. The following are some of the most popular materials companies use to craft footwear.


Natural Leather

Leather is one of the most popular shoe materials made from animal hides, including pigs, cows, crocodiles, and snakes. However, if you are looking for vegan shoes, you might find one to skip these ones. 


It is mostly used for crafting dress shoes, and sometimes, they might not be the most attractive ones, but they are very comfortable and durable. Besides that, these shoes provide great breathability for kids’ little toes while preventing sweaty, smelly feet. Furthermore, it has a certain amount of stretch without tearing. 

Babies’ first shoes, sandals, as well as sneakers and boots, usually feature premium leather for maximum comfort and breathability. Natural leather allows the foot to move naturally over time, creating a custom fit over time.

However, these shoes require constant care, which is almost impossible for little kids. But, in this situation, parents can look out for these shoes and give them proper care. Besides that, leather shoes can be somewhat expensive, but overall, they are a good investment since they can provide the healthy development of kids’ feet.


Synthetic leather

Synthetic leather, also mostly known as PU leather but also as vegan and faux leather, is material made from artificial materials. These materials are usually polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, and plastic. However, in synthetic leather, you also find natural materials such as mushrooms, apple peels, other fruit waste, cactus, and cork. 

There are many reasons to choose synthetic leather, including its versatility, ease of use, and rich color palette. Also, high-quality synthetic leather is comparable to natural leather in terms of durability as well. Thus, shoes with synthetic leather can last almost as long as natural leather shoes.




Canvas is probably the most popular for crafting sneakers. The greatest thing about the canvas is that this material is very versatile and also easy to maintain and clean. In addition, canvas shoes are available in various colors since they absorb dye easily. 

Besides these pros, canvas shoes easily retain their shape due to their resistance to stretching. Canvas sneakers are great for casual wear, but they lack ankle support so try to avoid them when shopping for sports shoes for kids.


Natural rubber

Natural rubber is the most popular material for kids’ shoe soles. As a result of latex being extracted from rubber trees, natural rubber is a durable, flexible, elastic, and wear-resistant material. 

Latex, which is the natural rubber’s liquid form, is refined to create rubber for commercial use. The great thing about latex is that it is eco-friendly and suitable for recycling, which is a great choice for crafting sustainable shoes!


The Textiles for Kids Shoes

Textiles are also a common material for crafting kids’ shoes. Various types, colors, and styles of textile shoes are available. They can also be very durable if you help your kid take proper care of them. Now, let’s check some of the most popular textiles for kids’ shoes

  • Cotton – easy for cleaning, lightweight, and comfortable 
  • Denim – easy for cleaning, durable, and affordable
  • Lycra – very elastic and stretchy, strong and durable material
  • Nylon – affordable, durable, and insulated 
  • Polyester – flexible, fast-drying, and shrink-resistant
  • Propylene – it can withstand pressure and resist most chemicals
  • Rayon – pretty comfortable and soft 
  • Wool – great for winter because it provides good isolation, thus keeps the feet 

Textiles are usually used for the outer parts of the footwear. However, textiles such as microfiber are used for inner parts of shoes, such as linings and insoles.

If you are looking for lightweight kids’ footwear, textiles are the way to go. Whatever you opt for, just ensure that you are opting for quality, comfortable and durable materials specifically for kids’ needs. 


Foam is a material that is often used for the tongues and collars of shoes. It provides proper support thanks to the mix of foam (plastic), leather, and textile materials. While some foams are very breathable and allow air and water to pass through, some trap all types of gasses. 


Mesh is a synthetic material that has the biggest advantage when it comes to its durability. It is also very comfortable and cooling; thus, mesh footwear is a great choice for sports shoes for kids. These shoes can also be very stylish, so it’s a great choice if your kiddo is active most of the day.


Cork is a great material for sustainability and is sometimes a great alternative for leather. However, the look of the shoes will change over time, which can be a bad and a good thing.

Faux suede

Faux suede is an eco and animal-friendly material crafted from polyester microfiber. This material is pretty comfortable and soft. Thus, it is great for kids’ boots. Kids will be cozy and comfy when walking around in faux suede shoes without their little feet hurting. Even though this material is good for kids’ boots, the faux suede is not waterproof, so stay out on those rainy days.


Wearing Socks 

When your kid wears shoes, or any type of footwear, like sneakers of any type, boots, or dress shoes, it is recommended to wear socks beneath them. Here is why:

  • Socks prevent blisters that result from friction between a kid’s skin and the shoe
  • Socks prevent kid’s feet from sweating 
  • They also prevent athlete’s foot and ringworm 
  • Wearing socks can maintain a kid’s shoe shape and prevent damage 

However, not all types of footwear require wearing socks. For example, when your kid is near the pool or sea area, they will rather wear bathing sandals or swimming socks that do not need wearing socks. 


In Conclusion

There are numerous different shoe material varieties, each with specific uses and advantages. As a result, it’s critical to determine what kind of shoes your kid needs and, of course, try to match his/her style. Even if the shoes are comfortable and feature great materials, your shopping was in vain if your kid does not like the design and the overall shoe style.  

Thus, buying shoes for youngsters can be a bit of a hassle unless you have an easy-going kid. We totally understand this, and we sincerely hope that this little guide has helped you to choose the best material for your kid’s shoes.



  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.