The Best Nike Shoes for Kids

Buying Guide

Whether their day calls for pick-up basketball, hopscotch or sprints around the track, there's a Nike kids' shoe for every young athlete.

Last updated: 17 March 2023
6 min read
The Best Nike Shoes for Kids

For kids, busy school days and active weekends call for versatile sneakers that keep their feet supported while they play and explore. Whether they're getting ready for PE or hitting the playground with classmates, kids need durable, easy-to-put-on sneakers suited to all kinds of play.

If you're picking out a pair of boys' or girls' sneakers for the little athlete in your life, consider all the ways they like to move, play and jump—and lace them up in an athletic shoe that's well-suited to those activities. Nike kids' sneakers come in sizes for young athletes of all ages:

Below, check out the best Nike kids' sneakers for different purposes, from all-round athletic kicks to slip-on sneakers to high-performance basketball or running shoes.

(Related: The Best Nike Shoes for Back to School)

The Best Nike Shoes for Kids

1. For a Hands-Free, Easy-On-and-Off Sneaker: Air Max 270 Go

For active kids, the Nike Air Max 270—including the latest take on the shoe, the slip-on Nike Air Max 270 Go—is a top choice for all-round kids' sneakers. That's because the sneaker features a special air unit in the sole that provides extra bounce and support.

The Air Max 270 Go also features a collapsible heel that enables kids to put on their shoes hands-free. When they slide their foot into the shoe and press down on the heel, it will snap into place and stay secure on their foot until they're ready to slip it off.

The elastic laces on the shoe provide a snug fit, but younger kids (or the adults in their lives) don't have to tie them up like classic laces. The younger kids' version of the shoe features a no-tie lacing system, while the older kids' version comes with traditional laces.

The Air Max 270 shoe comes in sizes for older kids, younger kids, toddlers and babies.

Top features:

  • Collapsible foam heel provides easy, hands-free, one-step entry.
  • Lacing systems are made for all ages, with traditional lacing for older kids' sizes and elastic, no-tie lacing for younger kids.
  • The air unit wraps 270 degrees for an airy bounce in every step.
  • Breathable mesh upper helps increase airflow to keep feet cool and dry during play.
  • Soft foam underfoot provides lightweight cushioning.
  • Durable rubber outsole offers traction underfoot.

2. For MVPs in the Making: Nike Kids' Basketball Shoes

For kids looking up to pro basketball players who dribble, pass, dunk and break records while wearing Nikes on the court, they can rock the same iconic, high-performance footwear—but in versions made for young, developing athletes.

Nike offers kids' versions of top basketball shoes representing the brand's signature athletes, including LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic. Shop styles for kids of all ages.

Top features:

  • Shoes are emblazoned with signature styles from some of the greatest Nike professional basketball stars.
  • Rubber outsoles feature tractioned grip, so little athletes can pivot, dribble and jump with confidence.
  • Styles come in both low- and mid-top heights.

3. For a Versatile, All-Round Sneaker: Nike Presto

With its buoyant, soft cushioning and grippy sole, the Nike Presto is a great all-purpose sneaker for active kids, especially on days when they have PE. These athletic shoes will have kids ready for any activity the school day might bring, from hopscotch to football rounders to tig.

Plus, for little ones getting ready to take their first steps, these shoes come in smaller sizes for babies and toddlers.

Top features:

  • Heel pull-tab offers easy slip-on access.
  • Stretchy fabric is lightweight and breathable around the feet.
  • Foam cushioning feels soft and plush.
  • Rubber outsole offers durable traction.

4. For Young Runners: Nike Kids' Running Shoes

Kids who love to run—whether in PE or on their school's cross-country team—need a pair of running shoes that provide the right amount of support for their feet.

And while it might seem simple to swap in a pair of basketball or tennis shoes, which feature multi-directional underfoot traction, running shoes provide arch support and ample cushioning to absorb the impact of each stride, as well as a traction pattern that supports forwards motion.

Nike running shoes for kids, including the Nike Pegasus, Nike Revolution and Nike Flex Runner, are designed to offer the cushioned support and stability little runners need.

Top features:

  • Some pairs, like the Nike Run Flow, feature soft and durable Nike React foam cushioning—the brand's most responsive sneaker foam yet.
  • Other icons, like the Pegasus, feature Zoom Air cushioning, which offers a bouncy feeling with every step and stride.
  • Many varieties feature laceless pull-tab features for easy-on, easy-off access.
  • Breathable uppers help increase airflow to the feet, helping keep them cool and dry.

(Related: The Best Nike Running Shoes for Kids)

5. For Casual, Everyday Wear: Nike Blazer

Although the original Nike Blazer was designed as a performance basketball shoe, the Blazers of today are sporty, comfortable lifestyle sneakers for everyday wear (think: walking to school or playing with friends). They offer comfort and responsiveness, while also giving off a cool, retro look for kids who want to show off their style.

Blazers are available for kids of all sizes—and some kids' styles feature a hook-and-loop strap for easier on-and-off access.

Top features:

  • Blazers come in both low- and mid-top varieties.
  • Clean, minimal appearance and suede details on the upper add to a throwback look.
  • Herringbone rubber sole offers flexibility and traction.
  • Foam cushioning is plush but firm.

6. For a Comfy, Timeless Streetwear Style: Nike Air Force 1

For kids who want another comfy, supportive pair of sneakers that also makes a style statement, go with Air Force 1s—an iconic Nike shoe that's been a streetwear staple for decades.

AF-1 styles for kids come in sizes for younger and older kids alike, including an Air Force 1 cot bootie for babies. Some styles feature an ankle strap that can be adjusted to secure the best fit.

Top features:

  • Real and synthetic leathers provide extra durability and support.
  • Air soles give kids extra buoyancy with each step.
  • AF-1s are available in low-, mid- and high-top styles.
  • Tractioned outsoles ensure a strong grip on the pavement or court.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should Kids' Shoes Fit?

To see if a child is wearing the correct shoe size, ask them to stand in the shoes, then feel for the tip of their toe in relation to the tip of the shoe. There should be enough room in the toe box to place the tip of your finger in that space. If there isn't enough room, the shoe may be too small. If the child's heel is slipping in the shoe while walking, the shoe is probably too big.

Tip: When fitting a child for a new pair of shoes, it's best to get them to wear the type of socks they plan to wear with the shoes to ensure they fit comfortably.

For more information on shoe fit, check out Nike kids' footwear size charts.

Which Kids' Shoes Are Best for Back to School?

The best Nike shoes for back to school are comfy, versatile shoes that provide all-day support for kids' feet—from the classroom to the playground. Top back-to-school sneakers from Nike include Air Force 1s, Pegasus running shoes, Huaraches, Blazers, Air Maxes and more. For getting kids ready quickly before school, consider a pair of slip-on sneakers that kids can easily put on themselves.

(Related: The Best Nike Shoes for Back to School)

Words by Julia Sullivan

Originally published: 27 March 2023

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