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the yay to the nay

Toddler Summer Shoes Reviewed: The Yay to the Nay

By Ilana Wiles

the yay to the nayI have a confession to make. For the past two summers, my two-year-old daughter has worn nothing but Crocs. As a somewhat fashion-conscious Manhattanite, I am fully aware that in many well-heeled circles, I am committing a kid-shoe crime. BUT. I will defend Crocs to the death, as the ultimate in toddler footwear.

However, I did welcome the opportunity to pit my time-tested favorite against a couple of the other popular toddler shoe trends for summer. Namely— the old-school revival of Salt Water Sandals and the brand-new-to-the-party Natives.

But first, Mazzy’s precious hot pink Crocs.

1. Crocs Classics Review

With two years of Crocs Classics ($24.99) under my belt (we bought the same exact shoe for this summer as she wore last summer, in a larger size), I can speak with complete confidence. They are easy to get on, waterproof, washable, protect little toes and very comfortable— at least that’s what it seems like from Mazzy’s lack of complaints. Plus, Mazzy can put them on and take them off by herself. I also happen to think they are adorable on a toddler (although I wouldn’t be caught dead in them as an adult) and the hot pink goes with most everything, including dresses.

Verdict on Crocs Classics: Big Fat YAY

2. Salt Water Sandals Review

Honestly, I didn’t think Mazzy would like the Salt Water Sandals($31.95) because she wouldn’t be able to get them on and off herself (due to the buckle) and they don’t have nearly the amount of sole cushion as her Crocs.

I was wrong. The second they arrived, Mazzy’s face lit up like a lightbulb and she screamed excitedly, “They’re like Lousia’s!” That’s her best friend. She then demanded to put them on immediately, stomped around the apartment proudly and asked to put on a dress. When she woke up the next morning at 6am, she asked to put them back on again while still in her pajamas.

I’ve found they are pretty simple to take off and on and look a thousand times cuter with her clothes than Crocs. It’s even inspired me to dress Mazzy in her dresses more often, which all of a sudden she seems to love. Previously, she always insisted on shorts. Cherry red goes with almost everything (just like hot pink) and call me crazy, but I love how they look in photos.

I admit, we actually haven’t worn the Crocs except for trips to the water playgrounds since we got them. Even though, I hear that the reason they’re called Salt Waters is because they are so durable, they can even withstand salt water.

Verdict on Salt Water Sandals for kids: Big Fat YAY

3. Natives Footwear Review

Natives ($29.95) are like the cooler cousin of Crocs— totally acceptable in New York’s trendy and fashion-conscious crowd. The Jefferson variety (my personal favorite) are rubber with Croc-like holes, but shaped like a regular sneaker.

I would love to give you an actual review of the Natives but unfortunately, I was not able to get my hands on them because they are SO POPULAR, they are sold out everywhere. I actually started my search for them over a month ago— first looking for the pink Jeffersons and then when they were sold out, trying for the red Jeffersons, then the yellow Jeffersons, then the blue Jeffersons, and then I tried to settle on the Miller variety and then I was like, okay, okay, I’ll take the Corrado… but couldn’t find any in stock anywhere, even online.

Finally, I got an email from Zappos that the pink Jeffersons were available. I went online and saw there was only ONE PAIR LEFT and bought it as quickly as I could. That was July 24th. As of today, August 10th, I have still not received Mazzy’s Natives.

I checked my Zappos order status and it says, “We’re on it!” but no shipment has been made. AWESOME. So….

Verdict on Natives footwear for kids: A big fat “I HAVE NO IDEA”

But, of course, now I want them more than anything.


About the Author

Ilana Wiles

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertisin...

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertising for the past 15 years. She lives in the East Village of NYC with her husband, her two-year-old daughter and a rapidly growing pile of stuffed animals.

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  • Shannon W.

    August 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Keens are super popular for kids of all ages here in PIttsburgh. I was surprised to see them missing from your review. Way more attractive than crocs, washable,and many little kids can get them on by themselves.

  • Ally

    August 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I still swear by Pediped shoes. My kids ages 1-5 all wear them year round and I LOVE them. They are comfortable and last a long time. I love that they are stylish and my kids can get them on al by themselves. 

  • Sara

    August 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Don’t forget the STINK factor in your assessment!  The Crocs NEVER make my little ones feet stink and other shoes definitely DO, including Keens as someone mentioned above!  A definite plus in my book.  One thing to warn people of … beware if a shoe accidentally ends up in the dryer — THEY SHRINK!  And as a final note, get the cheaper, still make by Crocs, version of these by Jibbitz at Target!  Woot!

  • Emily

    August 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    those saltwater sandals look EXACTLY like the ones we have from OshKosh. Minus the color, ours are silver (although they may have had other colors) and ours are actually faux buckle – there’s velcro underneath. Love them.
    Will be avoiding crocs for as long as humanly possible. They are only cute on toddlers, but they’re not cute enough for me 🙂

  • Nicole

    August 13, 2012 at 1:38 am

    We have the pink natives. Love. Mine wears hers everywhere, with everything. They are obviously waterproof, and easy to get on and off, but kids can run in them easily in like crocs. And they are cuter. You have to buy them when they come out in the spring. I get mine at Nordstroms. They tend to sell out in the first month of their release I think.

  • Nicole

    August 13, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Meant to say unlike crocs they can run in them easily.

  • Rachel

    August 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I love the Pediped Amazon Flex. Super durable, comfortable, cute, and machine washable.

  • Becky

    August 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Saltwaters hands down. We love ours. they are so durable and so stylish for little toddlers and mommies too. CLASSIC look with modern colors equals a perfect summer style!

  • caitlin tinio

    August 29, 2012 at 5:31 am

    In my opinion, whatever shoes your child is comfortable with, well, go for it (as long as the safety of the child is not jeopardize because of its non- slip resistant sole, etc). If I were to choose on the three types, I will go for the crocs. I chose crocs because of the very simple reason; it’s the cheapest among the three. But all the shoes are lovely.

  • Vella J. Moore

    April 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I love the shoes! They look so cool and comfy. I believe it doesn’t really matter what type of shoes your child will be wearing, what’s important is the level of comfort it gives the child.

  • Esti

    May 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    These may not pass your fashion standards but my kids love them so much they wear em around the apt all year long- Clark’s Doodles. Great for the sprinklers and running around, they don’t make kids’ feet sweat. So practical!

  • emily

    April 15, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for v the great review. I made the splurge on a pair of salt water sandals for my 4 year old. Today at Burlington Coat Factory I found her a pair of Natives. They were only $9.99. They only had size 9 which fit her perfect now, hopefully they’ll fit into summer but her feet grow fast and i’ll fall in love with the natives and never find them again for so cheap. Haha.


    April 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Not sure if my comment posted (if it did, you can just delete this one) I found your review while looking at buying some Saltwater sandals. I made the splurge and bought my 4 yr old some hot pink saltwater sandals! She loves them and they look cute with everything. Today at Burlington Coat Factory I came across a pair of the Natives for only $9.99. They only had a size 9 (which fits her perfect now) Hopefully we can get a little bit of summer where out of them. They are so cute. I am a bit worried about traction, especially when wet but we will see.