Best Running Shoes for Kids Reviewed & Rated

For parents, hunting down a running shoe that’s functional, comfortable, and affordable for their child can sometimes amount to the same kind of effort as a treasure hunt. From the toddler who’s just starting to walk to the preteen who’s just starting out in athletics, children require different aspects in footwear dependent upon the activity. With so many choices out there, how is a parent to weed out the pairs that fit all criteria equally amongst a host of options?

Last Updated: December 19, 2017
By Jacylyn Villanueva:

With this update, the listed shoes below have been especially chosen for the budget-conscious parent in mind without sacrificing the health of their child’s feet. By carefully scouring through the scores of children’s footwear meant for a variety of activities, we have included brands that parents trust, such as New Balance, Adidas, and Nike. These shoes were especially selected to ensure parents are informed of what models provide the best value and the best protection.

Featured Recommendations

New Balance KJ890
  • New Balance KJ890
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 75% Synthetic, 25% Mesh
  • ABZORB heel cushioning
  • Price: See Here
Stride Rite Made 2 Play Ian
  • Stride Rite Made 2 Play Ian
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Memory foam insole
  • Price: See Here
Saucony Ride 9
  • Saucony Ride 9
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Traction pods
  • Mesh sneaker
  • Price: See Here

Requirements for Children’s Shoes

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children’s shoes be modeled upon the bare foot. As a child’s foot develops, the primary role of a shoe should be protection from injury and infection. Therefore, a quality shoe for one so young should consider the following factors:

  • Flexibility
  • Shock absorption
  • Load distribution
  • And Elevation

Restrictive, stiff shoes need not make any parent’s list of running shoe options, as proper support and fit in a shoe are crucial to the growing feet of a child. Arch support and ankle support are also necessary to keep feet and ankles healthy.

It’s no question that, for children under 12, there is a limited range of quality running shoe options. Parents’ best bet is to find a shoe that is of highest quality without compromising the family budget; and is a pair that affords both comfort and stability. Unfortunately, low-budget retail stores may not offer the best quality shoe. These stores may seem more favourable wallet-wise, but the cheaper alternatives will not ensure the overall health of a child’s feet. Read on to find out our top 10 running shoes for your child!

1. New Balance KJ890

This shoe boasts style in its offerings of different color choices. Its lightweight design and ABZORB technology allows for comfort that is as close to that barefoot-feel.
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Comfort factor
The shoe’s design lends comfort in its padded tongue and collar, disallowing abrasion around the lower ankle and protecting the top of the foot from the lacing. During a sprint or leisurely walk, heel cushioning is provided to reduce the force of impact.

Breathable and Secure
The mesh material of the shoe upper grants breathability, while the synthetic material affords protection for the child’s foot at the toe cap and quarter. The heel is supported with a sturdier synthetic to ensure the foot is secure.

While not being the most expensive shoe out there, there is no denying the quality of this shoe! New Balance created this pair to be flexible with your child’s stride and have made wider sizes available.
  • Wide range of colours available
  • Flexible
  • Can be used in a variety of activities
  • Heel and arch support
  • Run a half size small
  • Not durable for everyday wear

2. Stride Rite Made2Play Ian

This shoe makes the list for the toddlers and preschool-aged children due to its durability and the ease with which parents can slip them onto little feet.
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Ease of Mind for Parents
Stride-Rite caters to the parents who struggle with keeping tiny feet housed within a sturdy shoe and anticipates the time it takes to slip on shoes on an unwilling wearer. These shoes are designed with a velcro hook and loop closure that’s easy enough for an independent toddler to operate themselves. Parents can be assured of their little one’s comfort in these shoes, thanks to the memory foam insoles placed in the footbeds. Not to mention, these leather-mesh shoes are built tough for the rough-and-tumble sort of child who will literally put these pair through its paces.

Washable and Fights Odours
Again, Stride-Rite anticipates another compulsion children will undoubtedly indulge: the need to jump through puddles and mud. Luckily, parents can rest easy in the knowledge that these shoes are 100% machine-washable. It also doesn’t hurt that these shoes are also constructed with an anti-microbial lining to stave off odours.

Parents will love that this shoe completely delivers on quality and value for the price! These shoes were designed with the active toddler/preschooler in mind, and yet, are able to satisfy the parents’ need for a comfortable quality shoe for their children.
  • Easy to clean
  • Anti-odour, anti-microbial
  • Designed for a thicker, wider foot
  • Durable construction
  • Stitching on velcro closure less durable
  • Runs a size smaller

3. Adidas Hyperfast 2.0 K

As the name implies, this shoe’s lightweight design will encourage your budding runner to fly on the pavement. Adidas scores highly in the cushioning department with this shoe, and continues to deliver support during a child’s stride where it’s needed most.
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Sturdy design
The shoe is made mostly of synthetic textile for the purpose of remaining light, and it’s durable outsole can withstand any sport in which your child chooses to play. The brand carries out its commitment to quality in constructing this shoe to withstand any rigorous activity.

Comfort factor
The midsole’s cushioning prevents feet from tiring during activity through even load distribution, and allows every step to feel easy and comfortable. Ankles are supported further by way of a padded tongue and collar, forming a relaxed, secure fit.

While being slightly more in price than the New Balance KJ890s, Adidas has always been known for its long standing reputation for athletic footwear. When choosing appropriate quality footwear for your child’s sport of choice, you need look no further than the Hyperfast 2.0 Ks.
  • Holds ups durably well against a variety of activities
  • Fits true to size
  • Available in different colours
  • Offers support where needed
  • Comfortable fit
  • Tends to stretch out after several wearings
  • Not meant for overpronation

4. Saucony Ride 9

4. Saucony Ride 9
For children who enjoy running, jumping, and playing, Saucony offers a shoe that is a product of researching how top athletes move. Their data has allowed for a children’s shoe that provides sole-based stability and proper cushioning.
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Design meant for running children
With a child always on the go and ready to play, the elastic strap with velcro closures help eliminate the need to struggle putting on shoes with laces. The criss-crossed elastic straps across the foot allows for a secure fit, and the non-marking rubber outsole maintains grip against most surfaces.

Durable, comfortable fit
Like the Stride Rite model, these shoes were meant for rigorous play and can withstand the force of heavy impact created during jumping and running. Tired feet will not be an issue when children sport this particular pair with a properly cushioned and comfortable midsole.

The price makes this pair affordable for any budget while still delivering a quality running shoe for growing feet. With many colour options to choose from, both parents and children alike will be happy with this shoe model.
  • Variety of kid-pleasing colours
  • Can withstand rough use
  • Also offers half-sizes and wider sizes
  • Great traction, grips most surfaces
  • Stitching may eventually loosen
  • Outsole may be inflexible for younger children

5. Nike Roshe One

5. Nike Roshe One
These shoes make their way to this list based on scoring high in the cushioning department all around. With the shoe upper comprised of mainly mesh material, breathability and comfort are the main features that recommend this shoe.
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Durability and Comfort
As already mentioned, the mesh upper along with the lightweight midsole enables the wearer to experience maximum comfort. The shoe’s exterior may lend the impression that durability may have been consigned to the wayside, but that is clearly not the case with this pair. Its design, which uses a blend of suede and textile, holds up well against normal wear and tear, while a cushioned textile collar also ensures a secure and snug fit around the ankle.

Nike offers a diverse range of colours to cater to the most discerning of tastes while at the same time sticking closely towards stylish minimalism. With the Roshe One’s no-frills style, durability, comfort, and fit are clearly at the forefront of the creative minds from Nike.

For a Nike shoe, Roshe Ones are one of the more affordable models on the market. In comparison, these shoes rate higher in price than the KJ890s, but lower than the Hyperfast 2.0 Ks.
  • True to size and fit
  • Constructed with lightweight and durable materials
  • Stylish design
  • Multiple colour choices
  • Extremely comfortable wear
  • Flimsy mesh upper
  • For some wearers, sizes run small and narrow

6. Under Armour Micro G Assert 6

6. Under Armour Micro G Assert 6
With Under Armour in the running shoe game, this pair holds its own alongside well-known brands in terms of comfort, durability, and style.
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Unique Construction
This far into the list, the Micro G Asserts differs in its shoe upper in that there is a foam layer nestled between two layers of soft, breathable mesh. Leather overlays encase the body of the upper for enduring stability.

State of the Art Technology
Under Armour developed their own cushioning system in Micro G Foam, which allows the wearer a lighter-weight shoe compared to its counterparts. Due to its relative thinness, athletes will feel that much closer to the ground and, in turn, be that much more responsive to what’s underfoot. While at the same time, feet will be energized and given that extra bounce. Anti-odour technology is built into the footbed to discourage odour-causing microbial growth.

The Micro G Assert 6s are reasonably priced for what they can do for your child’s feet. The feeling of ease and comfort in this shoe increases its value relative to its cost. While comparable in price to the Hyperfast 2.0Ks, this shoe maintains its brand’s integrity through its innovative design and technology.
  • Foam technology makes for a smooth, responsive stride
  • Anti-microbial footbed
  • Durable against rigorous activity
  • A good number of collective style options
  • There are no wider size options
  • Wearer may need to size up one size

7. Nike Free 5.0

7. Nike Free 5.0
With the Nike brand pumping out sneakers for every activity, this pair of running shoes simulates the barefoot state in its lightweight, supportive design and its performance endures against frequent use and abuse.
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Conforms to foot
The mesh upper acts as a sleeve in which the foot can slide into a sock-like fit. A dissimilar feature from most other running shoes has this shoe built with asymmetrical lacing to reduce pressure to the top of the foot while still stabilizing the midfoot area. The underfoot platform is responsible for a more natural stride due to its ultra-light flexibility, mimicking a barefoot gait.

Most parents would expect a shoe to last just long enough to get their money’s worth out of it. This shoe passes this test as it is able to last both extremes of use between the frequent walker to the competitive racer.

While the Nike Free 5.0s are a well-made pair of shoes, the cost may be off-putting at first glance in comparison to the aforementioned pairs on this list. However, the quality and ease of use in them more than makes up for the price.
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • More room in the toebox
  • As close to feeling barefoot while worn
  • Keeps feet dry and cool
  • Runs narrow for those with wide-set feet
  • Runs a half-size smaller

8. ASICS Gel Contend 4

8. ASICS Gel Contend 4
This shoe upholds the ASICS brand through the company’s understanding of the needs of the just-starting-out runner. Children whose feet are still growing will experience well-designed arch support and extreme comfort wearing these shoes.
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Room for feet plus orthotics
For the wearer who requires custom orthotics within their shoes, it’s a comfort to know that the sockliner is completely removable. Even with an orthotic appliance in place, there is still enough wiggle-room within the toebox. With this much room in the shoe interior, this shoe works well with feet of varying widths.

Cushioning system
As this shoe’s name implies, there must be a gel component somewhere in its makeup. It is in fact employed in the shoe’s midsole, where the heel benefits from this silicone-based gel cushion for the purpose of creating even more shock absorption.

The Gel Contend 4s are remarkably priced well for what they can do for your child’s feet. The amount of support and comfort they deliver to the wearer creates more value for this shoe than its actual cost.
  • Supportive structure
  • Runs wide
  • Can also be used comfortably as cross-trainers
  • Great arch support
  • Handful of styles to choose from
  • For some wearers, may be too wide
  • With above-average frequency of use, reported signs of we

9. UA Micro G Speed Swift

9. UA Micro G Speed Swift
In comparison to its counterpart, the Micro G Assert 6, the Speed Swifts offer your child a minimalist design meant to boost energy and to provide that springy, bouncy feel. It makes its way lower in the list as it has almost the same features as the Assert 6s, but differs in its materials makeup.
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Comfortable for daily runs
Your child won’t complain through their daily laps in gym class with this pair of running shoes. Their design prevents chafing while providing a snug fit around the foot for better support. Its solid rubber outsole provides protection from abrasive terrain while the flex grooves built into the sole help with maintaining the natural motion of the foot during a run.

Quality materials
Under Armour’s innovative Micro G foam technology exceeds its intended purpose by providing the right amount of cushioning and support. The materials chosen for the entire shoe add up to a lightweight construction, allowing your little track stars to explode off the starting line.

While not quite comprised of the same materials as the Micro G Assert 6s, this shoe is found to be very affordable for even the most strict of budgets.
  • Fit well
  • Comfortable, springy feel
  • Stylish options
  • Delivers good traction with rubber outsole
  • Wider options not available; may need to size up for more comfortable fit
  • Reported light usage of shoes led to premature wear and tear

10. Adidas Performance Fortarun K

10. Adidas Performance Fortarun K
Last, but not least, the Fortarun Ks have the fortitude to stand up to your child’s best effort in any activity. Quality and comfort are the standards for all of Adidas running shoes, and they are upheld quite well within this particular model.
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Several features of the shoe lend itself for a more comfortable gait. The shoe upper is comprised of breathable mesh, allowing proper aeration of the foot. A cloudfoam midsole provides maximum cushioning for load bearing and shock absorption. EcoOrthoLite technology is built into the sockliner for added comfort and performance.

Traditional Adidas
The brand’s telltale three stripes along with its strategic placement of laces further promotes the fashionable sporty look that die-hard fans of the brand will adore. Kids who are Adidas fans will be proud to strut through school hallways wearing this well-known brand.

Keeping your child in style while not breaking the bank with this pair will not be a hardship. Parents will love the quality and durable construction as much as they will the price.
  • Comfortable
  • Cushioning technology allows for softer landings
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight
  • Measuring tool included to ensure accurate fit
  • Not in sizes for children under kids size 8
  • Wider sizes are not available

With so many running shoes on the market today, the truly discerning consumer need only concern themselves with the well-being of their children’s health without the worry of spending far too much for a pair that will only be subpar in quality.

Children under 12 will not have the same choices of running shoes as that of a 12-year-old or older, but there are choices out there. Those choices will be the kind of shoes that provide proper cushioning and support for little, but fast-growing feet.

The purpose of this list is to ease the minds of parents with the knowledge that there are affordable, high-quality choices out there; ones that can appeal to both parent and child alike with the requirements needed in a properly built running shoe. Running shoes for children should always be protective, comfortable, and most of all affordable without compromising the overall health of the child.