Organic Kids, Posts

Children’s shoes NOT made in China. High quality and comfortable options.

I like my products as organic, as natural and as non-toxic as possible.  This is one area I am forced to compromise.  There are no perfectly non-toxic shoe options for children.  The compromise is comfortable children’s shoes not made in China.

It is that time of season again… Time to get new shoes for the kids.  About two or three times a year we go through this process. Tedious and very tiring but it has to be done.

Here’s what I do. 

Get Amazon Prime membership.  Trust me, you need it.  One of the perks is free two-day shipping and free returns on eligible items.  While I do not like to overuse the ‘free-returns’ option; kids shoe-shopping-season is when I take full advantage.  I usually order 5-6 pairs for each child and keep what is up to my standard.


How to get quality fit for a shoe

With this simple and very accurate shoe sizer you can determine current shoe size and I usually order 1 size up.  Chances are, one foot is longer (larger size) than the other so I add 1 size up to that foot…  The shoe will typically last all summer and early fall in the case of sandals, for example.

The main feature I look for is comfort – how easy is it for my child to walk and/or run in the shoe.  Does the child look comfortable or awkward.

Flexibility of the shoe sole.  Have you noticed that some children’s shoe soles are stiff or hard as a board.  They do not bend at all!  A good shoe should bend easily where the toes bend when a child pushes off during walking.  Check out these videos showing where/how the shoe should bend.  If I cannot bend the sole with slight effort – in the return box it goes.

Tightness of the shoe.  The concern is mostly with snow boots but is true for all shoes.  If your child is old enough, they will express their discomfort.  For a little one; let the child walk around for good 10-15 minutes.  When you take the shoe off – look for reddening of the skin.  Any sign of a shoe cutting into the skin or generally being too tight around the ball of the foot or in the back – reddening or indents on skin.

Sharp objects, weird sewing/glueing/manufacturing defects.  With my hand I run throughout the interior of the shoe.  If something is poking me, or feels rough – that pair is out.  For example I had to cut edges of Velcro on my daughters sandal as the factory put too wide of a piece.  It was very stiff and could cut into her skin while walking.  The sandal was soft as a slipper, very comfortable, and well made except the width of the Velcro.

My preference is that a shoe does not have a strong odor.  This was the hardest for me…  Most shoes do have that “factory” smell.  Again…  I am compromising here…  A few days of laying open usually takes care of the problem leaving zero odor.

One last thing.  Surprisingly, not all shoes from same brand are made the same.  Meaning one sneaker or tennis shoe from Geox for example is not equal in comfort to another sneaker from the same brand.  That is why that Amazon Prime membership with free-shipping and free-returns is so useful.  Out of five or six pairs, one or two will be tried on.  The rest will not get that far as the sole will be incredibly stiff.


Children’s shoe brands not made in China

Geox – made in Italy.  Buy Geox shoes here.

I just happens so that most of the shoes I bought were from Geox.  Not that this brand is better, it just happened so that Geox was more available and had better fit for that particular season.  The shoes are very well made, hold up for a whole season and will continue living out their lives as hand-me-downs.  And I absolutely love that most Geox is “lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, carcino-genic and allergenic dyes, detergents and any other substance that has been classified as toxic, harmful or non-biodegradable.” Lok for the TUV SUD mark.

Primigi – made in Italy or Romania.  Buy Primigi shoes here.

The company focuses on easy to wear, breathable, flexible and light childrens shoes.  The metal parts are nickel free and the leather is Chrome VI-Free.  They offer an Eco Shoe version that is made of plant-based raw materials, non-petroleum plant oils and water-based glues.  Primigi also came out with a new line called GORE-TEX for children who are constantly on the go.

Naturino – made in Italy or Brazil.  Buy Naturino shoes here.

The shoes protect and support children’s feet, without restricting movement or growth.  The shoes adapt to the feet leaving them free to grow naturally.  The company collaborates with paediatricians to improve products regularly.

Ricosta – made in Germany and Portugal.  Buy Ricosta shoes here.

From Manufacturer: “RICOSTA has become one of the most popular and respected infants’ and children’s brands throughout Europe. RICOSTA and its infants’ brand, Pepino, are unmatched in their commitment to offer unique shoes that will allow your child to be active, have fun and grow healthy. Environmentally certified (ISO 14001) and recycling over 95% of its waste materials, RICOSTA not only focuses on providing a perfect environment for your child’s feet, but also on its responsibility to be a good steward of the Earth.”

De Osu – made in Spain.  Buy De Osu shoes here.

De Osu works with small factories, using finest quality components.

Aigle rain boots – made in France.  Buy Aigle shoes here.

The rain boots are made of natural rubber and are lined with cotton.

Cienta – made in Spain.  Buy Cienta Shoes here.

From Manufacturer: “Dedicated to promoting the natural and correct development of children’s feet, the entire production and design process of Cienta is centered on quality and comfort, making use of only natural materials and the most advanced technology.”

Pajar – made in Canada but most recently in Romania.  Buy Pajar shoes here.

From Manufacturer: “The Pajar Canada Heritage Premium production is proudly manufactured in Montreal, Canada. These boots are 100% lined with genuine sheepskin and guaranteed to keep you warm in temperatures as low as -40 C. Our production facilities in Europe and Asia produce our Pajar Sport collections, which include very lightweight boots, complete with wool lining and a waterproof construction; as well as our top of line performance outerwear.”

Stonz Winter Boots – This model, specifically, is made in Canada.  Buy Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid here and buy sizes 5T-9T here.

These are light weight and easy to put on.  A big deal with a toddler.  Very warm, two times the industry standard for skid resistance.  They are also lead free, PVC free and the glue used is formaldehyde free.


Another honorable mention is Soft Star Shoes.  Made in USA.  These are probably as non-toxic as a child’s shoe gets, but it is a matter of taste and function.  With older children these will not hold up.  With a baby or a young child, these would be my top choice.


Finally, it is all about the fit.  One season when my daughter was just 15 months, I went through 8 pairs of non-China made sneakers and all of them were sub-par.  So we went with Saucony tennis shoe.  It fit well, had a flexible sole, was comfortable to walk in but was made in China.   I also sometimes get Keens.  Say what you will, but sometimes a non-slip shoe is necessary.  Keens Seacamp II line has a flexible sole unlike others.  Also made in China of-course.


Feeling Lucky?

These models I have bought and kept.  Do they have it in your child’s size?  Find out…

Boys Sneakers: Geox Pavel, and Geox Bernie

Girl Sneakers: Geox Bernie and Saucony Ride sneaker (made in china)


Boys Sandals: Geox Strada and these non-slip Keens (this model has the most flexible sole but made in China)

Girl Sandals: Primigi Ginessa, and Geox Verred and Primigi Maylea and these non-slip Keens (this model has the most flexible sole but made in China)


Boy Winter Boots: Stonz winter boots and (cringe) UGG waterproof boot

Girl Winter Boots: Stonz and Geox Overland

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  • Reply Josie February 8, 2017 at 3:34 am

    Thank you for writing on this topic! I really appreciate the helpful info!

  • Reply A March 10, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Fantastic post! Which would you say are the minimalist/closest to being barefoot?

    • Reply Cheryll bennett September 12, 2019 at 3:08 am

      Soft star. My son has worn them for years, so have we, and they’re so comfortable.

  • Reply Heike March 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this list. It’s great to know that more and more people start thinking about what we are doing to our planet and ourselves!

  • Reply Emily June 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Great post! I was on a search for my little one a little while back and found Bobux. They are based out of New Zealand. The shoes are super soft leather and mimic barefoot walking. My daughter (15 months old) has been wearing them for about a month and a half and always seems super comfortable and I’ve never seen any red marks on her feet. They have a ton of cute, classic styles. The pair I bought have a sticker that says they were made in Indonesia. The site says the leather is tested and they use non toxic dyes.

  • Reply Valerie June 11, 2017 at 12:43 am

    After reading your article, I looked up Geox on eBay to see if I could get some slightly used play shoes less expensively. I came across a pair from an individual seller here in America. She was not a volume seller, these were just her daughter’s shoes that she’d grown out of. She took several pictures of the shoes. They clearly showed the Geox name and look exactly like the factory picture. They were the “Rivisera” or something like that. When I got to the picture with the tag, it said “made in China”!! Are these knock-offs or has Geox moved production to China?

  • Reply Lauren August 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I just got in a pair of Naturino shoes for my daughter (ordered from Zappos)…. and they were made in China.

  • Reply Cheryll Bennett September 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve bought Soft Star Shoes for my son since he was a toddler, he’s now 11 and still wearing them. They’ve held up extremely well and he’s not easy on them at all. Thanks for taking the time to provide this info.

    • Reply Cheryll Bennett September 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      OH, and there’s also Kamik boots (made in Canada and USA) and Zuzii, made in California.

  • Reply Kaila May 19, 2018 at 4:11 am

    We love Pololo. They are the absolute best!

    • Reply Ems May 25, 2020 at 6:40 pm

      Pololo doesn’t ship to the US. Are you from Europe or China? Because those are the only places they will ship to.

  • Reply CeeCee June 5, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Unfortunately, Geox now outsources many of their shoe manufacturing to China, especially childrens line. Notice shoe bed says “Italian Patent”, instead of Made in Italy. That is because the shoe is designed and Patented in Italy, but actually made in China. Please help to make patents aware of this by updating this blog. Sorry I have stumbled across it so long after post!

  • Reply CeeCee June 5, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    I meant to say, please help parents….

  • Reply Cary December 20, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Stonz brand and Aigle brand rain boots are now made in China. The ONLY brand of natural rubber children’s rain boots that are not now made in China are Gumleaf, but unfortunately, the USA distributor is no longer selling the children’s sizes, just adults.
    It is so sad because our children’s developing brains and bodies are the most exposed to all of these toxic materials!

  • Reply jill January 15, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for listing these! We have tried Cienta sneakers recently–they fell apart after a few weeks (big holes in the soles).

  • Reply Stephanie April 21, 2020 at 1:47 am

    Hi, I’m looking for some water shoes for summer time for my girl who wears size 10. Any help is appreciated! I don’t want to buy anything from China.

  • Reply Kayla January 9, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Stonz boots ARE MADE IN CHINA. I just bought a pair thinking they were made in Vancouver. The tag inside the boot says “production location Guangdong Province, China”

    Please update your post to reflect the truth about where these boots are made.

    I feel misled and will never buy any of Stonz products again.

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