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.

I work for a children’s shoe store that works 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 wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, which makes the condition harder to manage.


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 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 on 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 falling. 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. The good news is that I created a virtual fitting 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.

Where to Buy Shoes in Different Sizes?

At the shoe store that I work for we charge families the 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:

1️⃣ Nordstrom’s 

  • You will order two pairs of shoes (one in each size, but they must be at least 1½ sizes different).
  • You will be charged for each pair and will be asked to send back the shoes that you do not need. Your credit card on file will get credited for the price of a pair.
  • If you have the need for only one shoe, a whole pair will be sent to you, and you will be asked to return the unneeded shoe.
  • Contact number (888) 282-6060

2️⃣ Zappos:

  • You can choose to buy one shoe or two shoes of different sizes or widths to create a pair
  • The brands that you can choose from are BILLY Footwear, Converse, Kizik, New Balance, Nike, Plae and Stride Rite
  • Contact number 1-800-927-7671 or email [email protected] 

3️⃣ One Foot Two Shoes

  • You can send the company your new, unused pairs or unpairs, sample shoes and/or mismatched pairs. You can then trade them in or consign them for cash.
  • If you are looking for a specific size, right or left, you can let the company know and they will be on the lookout and notify you when they are available.
  • If you have a bunch of shoes but only one in the pair you can ship the shoes to them.
  • Contact number (832) 460-0641 or email [email protected]

4️⃣ Healthy Feet Store

  • This company offers a ”special discount program” for children who need mismatched odd size shoes.
  • Contact number 1.866.324.3338 or email [email protected]

5️⃣ National Odd Shoe Exchange (N.O.S.E.)

  • To receive shoes you need to send an email stating what sizes your child needs. Be sure to include your address.
  • Contact information: P.O. Box 1120 Chandler, AZ 85244-1120 480-892-3484.

6️⃣ Birkenstock Express Online

  • This company offers a special discount for people who need only one shoe. 
  • You can buy any regularly priced pair of shoes and they will discount it 40%.
  • Contact number 1-800-451-1459.

What Are the Best Everyday Sneakers for Children Who Wear AFOs?

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. Here you can access a selection of the best everyday sneakers for children who wear 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 in 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), but you also need to make sure that the shoes are capable of supporting the AFOs.

If you are unsure 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.

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:

[email protected]

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