Best Shoes for Toddlers with Weak Ankles — Firm Heel Counter and Extra Support Right Below the Heels!

When toddlers first start walking, it’s normal for them to walk with their feet apart and their arms stretched out to help them balance. However, if your toddler has already been walking for a while and you notice a strange walking gait that doesn’t improve, I suggest getting your toddler’s feet evaluated by your pediatrician or physical therapist. In this resource, I am going to show you a list of the best shoes for toddlers with weak ankles.

If your toddler is diagnosed with low muscle tone and weak ankles there are simple, yet very effective steps that you can take to straighten and strengthen your toddlers’ ankles.

Some pediatricians recommend not to intervene until the child reaches a certain age (usually the age of 5), as the condition might resolve on its own. However, taking the “wait and see approach” might only lead to your toddler’s condition getting worse.

It’s not a matter of age. The earlier you intervene, the higher the chances of improving your toddler’s walking gait, overall posture, and quality of life. I am always emphasizing to parents to not take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions.

My Experience Fitting Toddlers in the Correct Pair of Shoes

When I evaluate a child’s foot and notice something wrong, I don’t wait and let the condition get worse. Toddlers with weak ankles and low muscle tone are not going to improve their alignment without help.


Wearing shoes that provide good ankle support is the most effective and least invasive way to support your toddler’s weak ankles, improve your toddler’s walking gait, and prevent foot and leg pain.

Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time here is a list of supportive shoes for toddlers with weak ankles.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Toddlers with Weak Ankles?

Let me start by saying that the shoes I recommend provide a substantial outsole and a firm heel counter with targeted support right below the ankles. I want to clarify that the shoes I recommend are not orthopedic shoes, meaning that they will support your toddler’s feet but allow the foot muscles to develop on their own.

1️⃣ Firm Heel Counter: The heel counter is the back part of the shoes that supports your toddler’s ankles. The firmer the heel counter is, the better. Always press on the heel counter of your kids’ shoes before buying them. Let me show you the difference between a shoe with a firm heel counter (image on the right) versus a shoe with a soft heel counter:


2️⃣ Targeted Heel and Ankle Support: This feature is going to support and straighten your toddler’s ankles. Let me show you the difference between a shoe that provides targeted heel and ankle support versus a shoe that doesn’t:


Are Shoes with Laces Better than Shoes with Velcro Closure?

I always recommend shoes with shoelaces instead of shoes with velcro closure or any other type of alternative closure for a toddler with weak ankles. The main reason for this is that shoelaces are always more effective in holding the child’s heels in the correct place, supporting and securing them against the back part of the shoes. I will expand on this and show you the best shoe lacing technique for toddlers with weak ankles shortly.

How Can I Straighten my Toddler’s Ankles? – Before and After Images!

I am a firm believer that the correct type of shoes can make the world of difference when it comes to improving a toddler’s walking gait and overall posture. In some cases, depending on the degree of the toddler’s foot condition we might need a pair of orthotics as well, but I always recommend to start by trying a pair of supportive shoes.


Let’s take a look at an image of a child with weak and rolled ankles standing barefoot. Do you notice how the ankles are rolling outwards making the feet pronated?



Let’s see what happens when we fit that same child in a pair of the supportive shoes I recommend. Do you notice how the child’s feet are a lot straighter? The child’s feet are not collapsing and pronating anymore because the shoes come with a firm heel counter and targeted support right below the heels.


Below you can find an additional example:

What Are the Best Shoes for Weak Ankles?

Our goal should be to correct the excessively tilted heels back into a more appropriate alignment while leaving the forefoot active and operative, meaning that the shoes need to be supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time.

By fitting a child in supportive shoes all we are doing is giving the child structural support. I want to clarify that by doing this we are not making the muscles weak.

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

In addition, it’s important for the shoes to fit the shape of your toddler’s feet correctly. For example, do you know if your toddler has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet? Do you know whether your toddler has a high instep or not? If you don’t know the answers to these questions I suggest that you take a look at a different resource I created.

Best Shoes for Toddlers with Weak Ankles 

The shoes below are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW) so choose your toddler’s foot width accordingly. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.

Many of the shoes featured below come in several color options, so if you want the shoes to be made of a specific color, please make sure to click through and see if they are available in that specific color.

All of these shoes provide a substantial outsole, targeted heel support, and they are lightweight and flexible at the same time.

Once the shoes arrive I suggest that you apply a specific shoe lacing technique I came up with that allows toddlers to get maximum support from the shoes.

I have noticed how certain pediatricians and physical therapists tell parents, “Don’t worry, your toddler will outgrow it”.  Sometimes the condition does straighten out by itself, but sometimes it doesn’t. Why would you wait for the condition to resolve on its when there are simple steps that you can take now?

Remember that when the feet are misaligned it usually leads to muscle fatigue while walking and increasingly stiff leg muscles.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Under the age of 5, children’s feet grow very fast, and it’s important that the bones grow straight. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble finding a pair of shoes for your toddler’s feet:

[email protected] 

Orthotics for Toddlers with Rolled Ankles – Are They Necessary?

If after 3 months of wearing a pair of supportive shoes your toddler’s walking gait doesn’t improve, then we might consider fitting a pair of orthotics inside the shoes for extra support. An orthotic is simply a shoe insert that is designed to provide cushioning, support, and stability, and to relieve pressure areas of the foot.

I have tried several different kinds of orthotics but there is a specific one I found that is designed to correct the misalignment caused by rolled ankles. The main reason why this orthotic is so effective in strengthening and straightening your toddler’s ankles is that the orthotic comes with a deep heel cup, in which your toddler’s ankles will be properly supported. The deep heel cup will also enhance your toddler’s stability:

Children with healthy feet avoid many kinds of  problems later in life such as general foot, leg, and lower back pain. That’s why it is important to inspect your children’s feet periodically and if you notice something is not right please take action!

If you already tried a pair of shoes that have worked well for your toddler’s weak ankles let us know in the comment section below so other families can benefit from your experiences.