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Best Shoes for Older Kids with Sensory Issues – Seam Free Fabrics with Padded Collars


Children with sensory issues have the hardest time finding shoes that feel comfortable. After working several years for a specialized children’s shoe store, I became familiar with the best shoes for older kids with sensory issues. I have helped several children with sensory issues find the perfect pair of shoes for their feet, and I believe I will be able to help your child as well. Certain shoes provide seam-free fabric interiors with padded elastic collars that help minimize discomfort.

At the shoe store that I work for, I handle approximately 100 shoe fittings/try-ons per week, and I have met several families of children with sensory issues. I strongly recommend that children with sensory issues are fitted for shoes at their local shoe store, as it’s highly likely that they will have to try different shoe styles in multiple sizes. The issue is that they might find these stores overwhelming, stressful, and it might be a trigger for anxiety and disruptive behavior.


It took me a long time, but I finally created a resource that showcases the best-fitting children’s shoe stores in the area:

The Best Kids’ Shoe Stores in the United States – Where to go for Proper Fittings

Keep in mind that even though I try to keep that resource up-to-date there have been several children’s shoe stores that have closed down during the pandemic.

Most Common Challenges of Families with Children with Sensory Issues

Do you feel like the sock and shoe sensitivity has taken on a life of its own lately? Let me know if the following scenarios sound familiar at all:

  • Do you spend countless hours in shoe stores trying 20+ pairs of shoes but you always end up empty-handed?

Retrieving your child’s exact foot shape (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide, high instep) can help you narrow down what shoe brands and styles you should try. I will expand on this shortly.

  • Do you sometimes get feedback from your child about the the shoes feeling “too tight”, or “too loose”, and other times the shoes simply feel “too bumpy and weird”?

If your child usually complains that the shoes feel “too tight”, there are certain shoe styles that provide extra depth and rounded toe-boxes which might help resolve this issue. On the other hand, if the shoes always feel “too loose” then there are also certain shoes that provide narrower platforms and heel counters, as well as special lacing techniques that can make the shoe “hug” your child’s feet more effectively. If the shoes feel “too bumpy and weird” then I suggest looking into shoes with seam-free fabrics.

  • Does your child hate all shoes except Crocs or Ugg boots?

Your child might like the “looser” feel that Crocs and Ugg boots provide. In this case, I suggest looking for sneakers that provide extra depth.

  • Does your child complain that the back/heel of the shoe is too high?

I have noticed that certain children’s shoes come up higher around the ankles than others, so in this case, you need to try a different shoe with a shorter heel counter.

  • Does your child complain that his or her feet feel hot all the time?

You can let your child walk around in supportive sandals, but some schools require an all-enclosed shoe. You will notice how the shoes that I recommend below are all breathable.

  • Do all shoes and socks feel too loose no matter how tight they are? Some children pull the velcro so tight that they no longer connect with the rest of the velcro on the shoe.

In this case, you can switch to a pair of shoes with laces to provide your child with better control of how tight he/she wants the shoes to feel. You can also add more fabric to the velcro of the shoe by adding a velcro extender.

  • Does your child remove the insoles of the shoes?

You can replace the original insoles of the shoes with a different one that might have more padding and cushion.

  • Does your child complain that the shoes have seams that make the shoes uncomfortable?

There are certain children’s shoes that come with seam-free fabrics.

Don’t Give Up! – We Will Find a Pair of Shoes that Fit!

Parents shouldn’t take their children’s sensitivities lightly. There have been cases of families whose children started missing school and not leaving the house because they couldn’t tolerate the feeling of socks and shoes. At the end of the day your child should wear shoes, so I will show you a list of the best shoes for older kids with sensory issues shortly.

The older children get, the harder their sensitivities are to manage. In addition, certain shoe options might not even be available to them depending on their shoe size.

What Shoes Work Best for Children Who Have Sensory Issues?

When looking for shoes for a child with sensory issues it is all about finding the most comfortable shoe. I usually look for shoes with seam-free fabric interiors that have padded elastic collars with heel tabs to help adjust the shoe around the heels. 

It is important to have a great deal of patience and understanding when dealing with a child with sensory issues. I have fitted shoes for several children with sensory issues, and one of the things you must understand is that they are not being bratty, they are simply experiencing a great deal of discomfort!

Best Shoes for Older Kids with Sensory issues

You should try to “desensitize” your child’s feet before putting the shoes on, which means warming up your child’s feet with a massage before putting on shoes. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

Can’t Seem to Find Your Child’s Shoe Size?

Let me know in the comments section below or you can also contact me directly via email: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

I will be able to provide you with different shoe recommendations or point you in the right direction.

Are You Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

There is a great resource I created where I help parents determine their child’s exact foot length and shape (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide, high instep). This resource will likely help avoid the stress of having your child’s feet touched while at the store and reduce the likelihood of ordering the wrong shoe size:

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

What Socks Work Best for Children with Sensory Issues?

I usually go for seamless socks. While I can’t get into too much detail about what features to look for in your child’s socks, there is a different resource I created which will probably answer most of your questions that relate to socks:

Seamless Socks for Kids – Stop the Struggle of Putting Socks On!

Help me make this resource even better by adding your recommendations for shoes for older kids with sensory issues.


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.

Do You Buy Your Kids’ Shoes Online?

Subscribe and get my personalized shoe size chart for free to help you find what size to order online.

Shoe Sizing Chart

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