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Best Shoes for Kids Who Wear Only One AFO – Save Time and Money


Do you have a child with a foot condition that needs to wear a brace on only one foot? Are you confused as to what you are supposed to do about the discrepancy of the other foot? I have helped several children who wear a single AFO find the correct types of shoes for their feet, and I believe I can help your child as well.

My Experience Helping Children Who Wear AFOs

I have been working for a children’s shoe store for many years and the store specializes in helping children with “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot and leg problems.

We work closely with a lot of pediatricians, physical and occupational therapists to provide children with the best fitting shoes and orthotics.


These therapists explain to me how they encounter many children with physical disabilities who wear shoes that don’t fit properly, which makes the condition harder to manage.

I handle approximately 100 shoe fittings a week. This experience has helped me get familiar with the best shoes and orthotics for children.

I have seen that some children are required to wear an AFO on one foot only and an SMO or other type of orthotic on the other foot. Other children need to wear an AFO on one foot and no orthotic on the other. This usually leaves parents confused as to what shoes they are supposed to get for their children.

Wearing a single AFO is more common than what you think, so let’s take a look at a couple of different scenarios to find out which one your child is going through.

What to Do If Your Child Has to Wear an AFO in Only One Foot?

It’s normal for families to be confused as to how to handle having a child wear only one AFO. However, fitting a child who wears only one AFO is really not a lot different than fitting a child who wears AFOs on both feet.

The most important thing to keep in mind is not to create a leg discrepancy or a foot imbalance.

  • First Scenario: Your child is wearing an AFO on one foot and no other orthotic on the other foot. In this case, it will be necessary to buy two pairs of shoes in two different sizes so children can wear the larger size with the brace and the smaller size on the non braced foot.
  • Second Scenario: Your child is wearing an AFO on one foot and a different orthotic on the other foot. In this specific case, it depends on whether the other orthotic is an SMO or a full length orthotic to determine whether you need two buy two pairs of shoes in two different sizes.

Be Aware of Fitting Your Child in Bigger Shoes to Accommodate the AFOs

Did you know that AFOs are used to control instabilities in the lower limb by maintaining proper alignment and controlling motion? It’s truly amazing what a difference the correct types of AFOs can make as long as they are fitted in the correct pair of shoes.


Allowing children to walk in shoes that are too big might compromise their stability and make them prone to fall. One of the main benefits of wearing AFOs is to improve the child’s stability, but if the shoes are fitted too big, you are stealing that stability right back.

How to Figure Out What Shoe Size to Order for Your Child’s AFO?

Having fitted children’s shoes for over 10 years I suggest that families take their children to their local shoe store to be properly measured and fitted for shoes.

The issue is that there has been a trend in the last 10 years of specialized children’s shoe stores closing and shopping moving online. COVID has accelerated this movement towards online shopping and stores closing.

It’s normal for parents to feel confused as it’s very hard to shop for children’s shoes online.

I created a free resource for all of those families who don’t have a specialized children’s shoe store in their area figure out what shoe size to order for their child’s AFOs:

How to Get the Correct Shoe Size for Your Child’s AFOs – Follow These 2 Simple Steps!

Where to Buy Shoes in Different Sizes?

At the shoe store that I work for we charge families a full price for the first pair of shoes and give them the second one for 50% off.

Not all families can afford to buy two different pairs of shoes in two different sizes, so it’s important to buy the shoes from companies that allow buying two different sized shoes for the price of one.

Below you can find examples of online retailers that allow families to buy two different sized shoes for the price of one. Another great advantage of these retailers is how they are great with returns or exchanges:

  • Zappos: This company allows families to buy a single shoe or mix and match different sizes. As far as pricing goes, single shoes will cost exactly half the price of a pair. 
  • Ikiki: This shoe company allows families to order left and right shoe sizes individually. Your order will require an extra 2-3 business days of processing time before being shipped.
  • Nordstrom: This shoe company also offers the option to buy shoes in two different sizes. To qualify, shoe sizes must be at least one and a half size different, at least one size and one width different, or two widths different.

After having fitted children’s shoes and orthotics for so many years I became familiar with which shoe brands and shoe styles work better than others. If you want to see a selection of the best shoes for AFOs I suggest that you take a look at the article below:

Best Shoes for Kids with AFOs – Stop Buying Bigger Shoes to Accommodate the AFOs!

Keep in mind that shoes with shoelaces tend to work a lot better compared to shoes with velcro closure when it comes to fitting AFOs. The shoelaces “hug” the child’s feet more efficiently, providing the child with better support and stability.

Always Consider This Before Buying Your Children’s Shoes

Fitting your child’s AFOs in the wrong types of shoes can defeat the whole purpose of wearing the AFOs. If you are investing your time and money on AFOs you might as well get the full benefits that the braces have to offer.

You need to make sure that the shoes not only fit the shape of your child’s feet correctly (lengthwise and widthwise), you also need to make sure that the shoes are capable of supporting the AFOs.

If you are unsure on whether the shoes are fitting your child’s feet and AFOs correctly, make an appointment with your medical professional and show them the shoes.

I also created another free resource in which I help parents determine whether the shoes are fitting the child’s AFOs and feet correctly:

How to Check If Your Kids’ Shoes Are Too Big for the AFOs – Follow This Simple Step

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or if you are unsure about what shoe size to order for your child’s AFOs: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

You can also leave a comment in the section below if you have any further questions.


I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

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