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The 10 Best Running Shoes for Kids in 2021


As an active mom of two athletic children, my family is constantly on the hunt for new running shoes. After hours upon hours of research, speaking with a physical therapist, and getting input from friends, I have compiled a list of the top 10 running shoes for kids.

The Best Running Shoes for KidsWhy It's BestRating
New Balance 888v1 Running ShoeMost Recommended. Available in 3 Widths.♥♥♥♥♥
Asics Kid's Gel-Contend 5 GS Running ShoesGreat for Distance Runners.♥♥♥♥♥
New Balance KJ990 Running ShoeSturdy. Available in 2 Widths.♥♥♥♥♥
Adidas Performance Hyperfast Running ShoeDurable. Supportive Arch.♥♥♥♥♥
Saucony Ride 8 Running Shoe Good Choice for Narrow Feet. Great for Distance Runners.♥♥♥♥
Nike Roshe One Running Shoe Flexible. Lightweight. Perfect for Narrow Feet.♥♥♥♥
Adidas Performance S-Flex Running ShoeMidfoot Support. Impressive Quality.♥♥♥♥

The Best Running Shoes for Kids

New Balance 888v1 Running Shoe

Image of the New Balance Boys' 888v1 Running Shoe, Pacific/Dynomite, 5.5 W US Toddler

The New Balance 888v1 Running Shoe tops our list as the best and most recommended running shoe in 2021.

This classic suede shoe features a flexible sole and a shock-absorbing heel cushion to keep your little one’s feet comfortably protected during hours of endless play. From infant to big kid sizes, this shoe is available in three widths – regular, wide, and extra-wide.

Parents love this running shoe for its durability and comfort, while physical therapists recommend this one more than its competitors. The removable insole and extra-wide width also allow it to fit perfectly over orthotic braces. It’s one of the best kids shoes overall.

Asics Kids’ Gel-Contend 4 GS Running Shoe

ASICS Kid's Gel-Contend 5 GS Running Shoes, 4M, Black/Speed RED

The Asics Kids’ Gel-Contend 4 GS Running Shoe blasts into action with a fun, colorful upper featuring seamless construction.

The Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System and a reinforced stitched toe cap ensure comfort and durability that is sure to keep in step with the speediest of young runners.

Parents of young distance runners rave about the comfort and durability of this shoe. The impeccable arch support is perfect for those wanting to run 5K and 10K races.

Removable insoles also make it a great choice for those with medical orthotics.

New Balance KJ990 Running Shoe

Image of the New Balance KJ990 Lace-Up Running Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid),Grey/Pink,12 M US Little Kid

Modeled after its grown-up counterpart, the New Balance KJ990 Running Shoe will give your youngster the performance they need every step of the way.

The injection-molded, foam insole and ABZORB heel cushion increases cushioning and compression resistance properties, and aids in absorbing forceful impacts. With sixteen color schemes and two widths to choose from, this shoe is available in sizes ranging from toddler to big kids.

Parents praise the sturdy construction and great support this shoe provides.

Adidas Performance Hyperfast Running Shoe

Image of the adidas Performance Hyperfast Running Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid),Black/Mid Grey/Silver,11.5 M US Little Kid

Get past the competition in the Adidas Performance Hyperfast Running Shoe.

An Ortholite midsole provides lightweight comfort and manages moisture and odor. This running shoe is made with kid-specific materials for impeccable durability. The flexible outsole and supportive arch make it a wonderful choice for young runners.

As a runner, you’re told to pick the shoe that provides the best fit instead of the “coolest” color. This shoe offers both for your little one. With five fashionable color choices to choose from, this kid running shoe makes the grade for both style and comfort.

It’s a solid pick for one of the best sneakers for kids.

Saucony Ride 8 Running Shoe

Saucony Ride 8 Running Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid), Pink/Purple, 6 M US Big Kid

Saucony is among the most respected names in running shoes. Want the best in running technology for your 5K or track running kid? The Saucony Ride 8 Running Shoeprovides the best features and benefits from the Adult Saucony Ride, but in kid right colors.

Parents are impressed with the durability, longevity, and comfort this shoe provides. However, some are still critical of this shoe because it is only available in a regular width. If your child has a wide or thick foot and needs more space in the toe box, this may not be the shoe for you.

Nike Roshe One Running Shoe

Image of the NIKE Kids Roshe One (GS) Black/Black Black Running Shoe 6 Kids US Black/Black/Black

The Nike Roshe One Running Shoe is flexible, lightweight, and perfect for everyday wear.

Parents love this shoe for its mesh upper, which offers superior ventilation – leaving little feet cool and dry.

Most parents feel this shoe runs small and narrow. If you purchase this shoe for your child, you may want to size it up. This is a wonderful shoe for narrow feet.

However, if your child has wide or thick feet, you may want to consider another option.

Adidas Performance S-Flex Running Shoe

Image of the adidas Performance S-Flex K Running Shoe,Black/Red/White,12 M US Little Kid

The Adidas Performance S-Flex Running Shoe gives little feet lightweight comfort and a clean style. With a lightweight textile upper, this running shoe features soft cushioning and midfoot support for active kids.

Parents are impressed with the quality, durability, and comfort of this shoe. After reading many reviews, it appears this shoe runs slightly bigger than its competitors.

Nike Kids Flex Experience RN 7 Running Shoe

Nike Kids Flex Experience RN 7 (GS) Running Shoe, Hyper Royal/ White, 6 Big Kid

Whether your child is training for his first race or just running around outside with friends, the Nike Flex RN Running Shoe is sure to keep him on stride.

Available in seven colors for boys and girls alike, this running shoe features an extremely flexible sole that mimics barefoot running.

I can personally attest to the quality and comfort of this shoe. My son has tried numerous pairs of kid running shoes for his thin, narrow feet. All fell short until his physical therapist recommended he try Nike Flex. He has two pairs – one for practice and one for everyday wear. Now, he won’t wear anything else. He is hard on his shoes, but these are durable and clean up well.

Reebok RealFlex Transition Running Shoe

Image of the Reebok Realflex Transition Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid),Neon Yellow/Black/White,3 M US Little Kid

Merging all the benefits of barefoot running with the protection of sneakers, Reebok created the low, lightweight, and highly flexible Reebok RealFlex Transition Running Shoe.

Its form-fitting design and sock-like feel keeps the shoe in contact with the foot providing great fit, feel, and added mobility. Made with an exclusive RealFlex outsole design, this running shoe allows for multi-directional flexibility and optimal foot feel as your child runs, jumps, and stretches.

Parents praise this shoe for its excellent quality and comfort.

Just as my son preferred the previous shoe, the Reebok RealFlex Transition Running Shoe is my daughter’s favorite running shoe. She wears this one to participate in athletic obstacle courses, and I can give it two thumbs up for durability, flexibility, and traction.

Skechers 80653L Go Run 4 Running Shoe

Image of the Skechers Kids 80653L Go Run 4 Running Shoe,Neon Pink/Multi,2 M US Little Kid

Your child will be racing in comfort and style with the Skechers 80653L Go Run 4 Running Shoe.

Featuring a lightweight, shock-absorbing midsole with a flexible, rubber outsole, this underrated brand is great for running. Parents say this shoe fits comfortably, has sufficient cushioning for hard surfaces and is quite durable. Plus, the fun colors make these some of the best tennis shoes for girls.

If you are gonna be outside, don’t forget the kids sunscreen!

Guide to Selecting Running Shoes for Kids

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, feet develop best in natural, barefoot environments. The purpose of shoes is to provide protection from injury and infection.

Stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness, and loss of mobility. Shoes that are designed with the barefoot model in mind are less likely to cause these conditions. Shock absorption, load distribution, and elevation should all be taken into consideration when choosing a quality running shoe for your child.

Foot Types and Shoe Qualities

Nationwide Children’s reminds us that a good pair of running shoes is an important piece of equipment for any athlete. Shoes that are chosen specifically for foot type and fitted properly can help keep athletes healthy and possibly prevent injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures.

The guide below will help you determine how to shop for the right shoe for your child’s foot and explain when to get rid of old shoes in favor of a new pair.

  • Low arched feet or flat feet are those that do not have much of a gap between the floor and the arch of the foot when standing. This foot type is very flexible and needs a shoe that can control its motion. Look for a shoe that has a rigid heel counter and more durable foam in the middle 1/3 of the midsole (often there is a change in foam color or texture in these types of shoes).
  • High arched feet are those that have a large gap between the floor and the arch of the foot. This foot type tends to be rigid and needs a shoe that can absorb the shock of running. Look for a shoe that is flexible and has a thick and cushioned midsole.
  • Neutral feet are those that have an arch height between high and low. This foot type can accommodate most shoe types.

FAQs about Kids Running Shoes

How can I tell if my kid’s shoe fits properly?

Examine where the shoe is bending by feeling the shoe and foot in the bent position. It should bend under the ball of the foot to support the bending of the toes. If the position of the bend is farther forward or behind where the toes bend, this means the shoe is too big or small (which could result in unneeded stress occurring elsewhere on the foot).

Here are some other indicators of good shoe fit:

  • There should be an index finger width between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • The heel should be stable and should not move in and out of the heel counter.
  • Your child should not feel any sliding motion inside the shoe when they start and stop running.

When should I replace my child’s running shoes?

Shoes should be replaced when they start feeling too small.

If your child is a runner, keep track of his mileage. Shoes should be replaced between 300 and 500 miles, depending on his training. In general, shoes should be replaced at least once per athletic season (if not more, depending on activity). Shoes should also be replaced if they show unevenness in wear when placed on a flat surface or if there is noticeable creasing in the midsole.

Remember that the midsole (which is the portion of the shoe that absorbs the shock) is usually the first part to wear out in athletic shoes. If all of a sudden your child starts experiencing aches and pains that she hasn’t dealt with before (such as shin splints or knee pain), it could be because the shoes are no longer absorbing the shock of running and her body is, instead. This may be a signal that it is time to change shoes. If you do not, the aches and pains could become overuse injuries.

Also, if the mesh upper or rubber outsole of the shoe has holes, tearing, or excessive wear, then it’s definitely time to buy a new pair of shoes.

Can I buy shoes a size up for my child’s growing feet?

As a parent, I totally get this question. It can be very frustrating to buy new shoes every 3 to 6 months for a growing child. But resist the urge to buy a size up!

Why? Because a shoe that’s too big won’t support your child’s foot as it should. This can result in foot, ankle, leg, and even back or hip injuries now and down the road. 

If it’s time to buy new shoes and you think your child is experiencing a growth spurt, you can try buying a half-size up. As long as the shoe is bending where it should and there’s not a crazy amount of room in the toe box, it should be okay. 

And just remember, if you are planning for a pair of shoes to fit your child 4 or 5 months from now, the season will be different and the shoe will be really beat up, so you’ll likely have to buy another pair of shoes in that size anyway! So just buy a pair that fits and works right now. 

Do I need special tennis shoes if my child wants to try distance running?

Yes! Running for more than a mile or two at a time requires shoes that help with the job and don’t hinder performance. You’ll want to look for things like:

  • Mesh in the upper part of the shoe to keep it breathable
  • Multi-layer rubber soles with foam or gel support and some sort of shock absorption
  • Reinforced stitching and lacing to handle the extra miles
  • Comfort or removable/customizable insoles

Should my child’s running shoes have laces, or is Velcro okay?

Either style works just fine if your child is just running around the playground and your backyard. 

If your child is a serious runner and logs multiple miles on a regular basis, make sure the kids running shoes that you choose have laces. Laces not only offer a more secure fit than velcro, but they act as another layer of support during a run.

If you are worried about laces not being as comfortable, then check out the different ways that laces can be laced and tied to offer just the right fit for your child’s foot type. 

Final Word

While there is no universally perfect running shoe, there is a shoe that is perfect for YOUR child, from the track to the trail.

It is my hope that, with the help of this article, your youngsters find a running shoe that keeps them fast, fearless, and free of any unwanted aches and pains.

Some of these options come at a higher price (when did kids shoes get so expensive!?), so make sure you choose a shoe that will give you your money’s worth. 

If you need good children’s summer shoe ideas for your kiddo, check out our Best Summer Shoes for Toddlers and Kids article.


Brittany Spalding
Brittany Spalding

Brittany Spalding is a wife, homeschool mom, writer, editor, and food allergy awareness advocate. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, restoring antique furniture, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, and fishing on the beautiful Kentucky Lake.



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