A comfortable shoe with great grip. The sock liner and cushioned midsole are removable. These sneakers feature a standout design – the big cats light up rather than the whole sole. A big hit with young wearers.
Sizes can run small, so you may want to size up.
Easy for kids to put on by themselves, thanks to hook-and-loop closure. Several different light-up modes, and charges with USB cable. A single charge lasts for hours, and the lights can be turned off to conserve power. Options for both boys and girls.
Lights stopped working quickly for a few users. Shoes could be more durable.
Open wide, so they're easy to slip on and off little feet. Hook-and-loop closure instead of tie laces. Most find them to be very comfortable. Lights activate when child takes a step, so they do not drain the battery.
Some say they wish shoes were more durable. Occasional reports of one shoe arriving not lighting up.
Comes in wide widths, which can be hard to find in kid's sizes. Sturdy sole with plenty of tread. Light when child stomps rather than button-activated. Lining is anti-microbial to help prevent odors. Reinforced toe helps to keep these fun shoes in good shape.
A few reports of insoles coming loose and bunching inside shoe. Heavier than some other options.
Comes in sizes for both young kids and tweens, although only the larger sizes are rechargeable. Variety of color and light pattern options in larger shoes. Very comfortable and look stylish even when not lit.
Smaller sizes cannot be charged. Some reports that one shoe in pair stops lighting. Be careful not to overcharge.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Trends come and go, fads fizzle out, but the flashy appeal of light-up shoes for kids somehow never seems to fade. Featuring built-in LEDs, kids’ light-up shoes blaze a colorful trail of attitude behind attention-loving tykes, instantly brightening up even the dullest days. Whether they're high-tops or low-tops or fasten with laces or straps, light-up shoes outshine regular sneakers any day of the week.
But with ever-evolving technology, choosing the perfect pair isn't exactly a walk in the park. Some shoes come with a variety of settings that make shoes flash and change colors; others even have a remote control as well for your child to take charge of the fun. Before you buy, you’ll also want to consider the materials, battery life (and the benefits of rechargeable models), and the importance of waterproofing, so your kid’s favorite shoes will last a long time.
If you're in the market for a pair of light-up shoes for kids, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve created the detailed guide below to help you choose. When you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.
Not all light-up shoes are created equal, and because the lights are the star attraction, you’ll want to pay special attention to how they work and what they do. Kids’ light-up shoes typically fall into one of two basic categories: pressure-activated and rechargeable. Let’s take a look.
Pressure-activated. These light-up shoes feature built-in sensors that require kids to step, stomp, or jump for the lights to come on. Not surprisingly, pressure-activated models are incredibly effective at getting kids up and moving. Because the LEDs only light up when pressure is applied, the chances of preinstalled batteries outliving the shoes themselves are good.
Rechargeable. Equipped with USB charging ports and control switches, usually located somewhere near the heel collar or inside the tongue, these shoes remain lit up until they’re switched off or the battery dies. Although rechargeable models tend to have a battery life of only a few hours, most charge reasonably quickly, and they often boast variable light settings, to boot.
LEDs can be installed in various areas on a shoe, so don't forget to give some thought to light placement. While traditional light-up shoes typically have LEDs fitted around the entire sole, some only light up in the heel or toe area. Still others feature light-up graphics on the shoe itself, usually in the form of beloved cartoon characters, popular kids’ movie themes, or brand-specific emblems.
Focusing all your attention on the lighting system is an easy trap to fall into, but remember — shoes that are all flash and no substance won't go the distance. Kids certainly have a knack for putting gear to the test, and light-up shoes are bound to see some heavy wear in the first few weeks. Below are the materials to look for to make the shoes last:
On the soles: To ensure that they last long after the initial novelty has worn off, look for light-up shoes with a durable construction. Robust rubber soles will go the extra mile while also providing traction to keep little ones from slipping while they skip, hop, or dance.
On the uppers: When it comes to the shoe’s upper (the part that covers the top of the foot), look for age-appropriate materials. For instance, shiny PU leather shoes can be ideal for adolescents, but they’re likely to suffer serious scuffs and scrapes at the hands (or feet) of tykes. When choosing light-up shoes for the younger crowd, sturdy fabrics, genuine leather, or faux leather with reinforced toe caps might be a better fit.
As with any other shoe, finding a proper fit is vital. Shoes that are too small will be downright uncomfortable and, as much as your child might want to wear them, all the lights in the world won't make up for painful pinching, squeezing, and rubbing. On the other hand, light-up shoes that are a bit too big can hold the promise of offering “room to grow,” but they’ll also hamper coordination, increasing the chances of stumbling and falling.
To keep odors to a minimum, make sure that children always wear socks with their light-up shoes.
Variable light settings
Although just about any light-up shoe is likely to win big smiles from little children, models with adjustable light settings tend to hold more appeal for older kids. Most rechargeable light-up shoes offer at least a handful of light modes, including static, flashing, and a selection of colors. Not only can customizable LED colors and light patterns help keep things interesting, but this nifty feature also affords kids the opportunity to match their light-up shoes with a wide variety of outfits.
Some kids’ light-up shoes boast as many as 15 different settings. Needless to say, having to repeatedly press a switch on each shoe to reach a desired color or light pattern can become tiresome pretty quickly. Models that come with remote controls deliver the ultimate in light-selection convenience, allowing children to change colors and patterns at the press of a button.
At the end of the day, shoes are shoes and even light-up varieties need to be able to stand their ground in the face of splashes, rain, puddles, and mud — especially when they have little feet filling them. Luckily, most manufacturers understand this and go to great lengths to ensure that a bit of moisture doesn't spell lights out for their shoes.
However, it's important to note that, although the average light-up shoe can handle a quick run through the rain, the efficacy of the waterproofing can vary dramatically from shoe to shoe. In some cases, prolonged exposure to moisture can impede battery life, so be sure to check the manufacturer guidelines before giving your kids the green light to wear their LED shoes in inclement weather. [You may also be interested in our top picks for kids’ rain boots.]
Don't overlook arch support when choosing a pair of kids’ light-up shoes. If you've already purchased a pair and feel they could do with more support, consider upgrading them yourself with a kids’ arch support insole.
Inexpensive: Smaller sizes, lightweight materials, and obscure brands tend to cost the least, with prices ranging anywhere from $10 to $20. While it's possible to find a fairly decent pair of toddler-sized light-up shoes in this price bracket, budget-priced models might end up needing to be replaced sooner than you’d like.
Mid-range: Light-up shoes that aren't suspiciously cheap or outrageously expensive can offer the best of both worlds as long as your expectations are reasonable. Models priced between $20 and $35 generally boast a good blend of functional durability and fun features.
Expensive: If only the best will do for your child, big brands, premium construction materials, and extra bells and whistles can set you back anywhere from $35 to $70 or more.
All light-up shoes look amazing on the dance floor, but rechargeable models that can be left on while kids bust out their best moves have a definite edge over pressure-activated varieties.
Skip the laces for littles. If you're looking for light-up shoes for a toddler or a younger child, consider slip-ons or sneakers with Velcro straps. These are easier to get on and off without help and eliminate the possibility of tripping over untied shoelaces.
Inspect the inside of rechargeable light-up shoes before you hand them over to your child. Switches and USB ports should never have sharp edges that can cut into skin and need to be positioned where they won't rub against joints or tendons.
Keep an eye on battery life when light-up shoes are set on color-changing mode. As much fun as a color-changing light show can be, it's worth noting that this setting can drain batteries faster. Brighter colors like white or yellow also tend to use up more battery life than cooler colors like green or blue.
Don't ditch sock liners unless you have to. Removable sock liners can extend the shelf life of light-up shoes by providing an additional barrier against moisture and odor-causing bacteria.
If you’re in search of a robust set of light-up kicks for a younger child, the Stride Rite Leepz Light-Up Sneakers are a solid choice. With their sturdy construction, supportive interior, and unique pressure-activated light-up “bubbles,” these shoes achieve a hard-to-beat blend of durability, protection, and entertainment. Need something specifically for wet weather? Then the Zoogs Light-Up Rain Boots are bound to brighten your day. These light-up boots are 100% waterproof with treaded soles for superior traction and can handle both rain and snow without a hitch. Pint-sized thrill seekers looking for shoes that do more than just light up are sure to get a kick out of Heely's Wheeled Light-Up Shoes. Not only do these rechargeable light-up shoes come with variable light settings, but they also feature heel wheels so kids can tear up the tarmac in Technicolored style.
Q. Can light-up shoes be switched off for day-to-day wear?
A. Light-up shoes that can be turned off when necessary deliver a fantastic balance of fun and functionality, but not all models are up to the job. Unfortunately, the vast majority of pressure-activated shoes can’t be switched off and most will continue to light up with every step until the battery dies or the LED lights give out. If you need your kids’ light-up shoes to pull double-duty, but don’t want to shell out extra for a pressure-activated option that’s equipped with an on-off switch, choosing a rechargeable model with a fairly basic design is your best bet.
Q. How long do rechargeable light-up shoes take to reach a full charge?
A. This varies from shoe to shoe. While a small percentage can take as long as four hours to recharge, the average light-up shoe typically reaches a full charge within two to three hours of being plugged into a power outlet.
Q. Can I wash my child’s light-up shoes?
A. Electrical circuitry and moisture have never been known to mix well and submerging light-up shoes in water generally isn’t advisable. Rechargeable light-up shoes with USB ports are particularly susceptible to malfunctioning due to moisture seeping in through openings, so you might want to err on the side of caution by keeping these as dry as possible. While a handful of manufacturers state that their shoes can be washed, we recommend keeping cleanups simple. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior and tackle crud stuck to the soles with an old toothbrush.
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