Billy Shoes for Kids Who Wear AFOs – These are the Deepest and Widest Styles!
Do you have a child who wears AFO (ankle foot orthosis) and heard that Billy shoes work really well accommodating them? Have you tried countless different shoe brands and styles and can’t seem to find a single shoe that fits over your child’s AFOs? Billy shoes work really well for children who wear AFOs, but among this shoe brand, certain styles work better than others.
A properly fitting shoe is critical to the proper functioning of an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). Finding the perfect pair of shoes for your child’s AFO can be a time-consuming and challenging experience, but I am going to help you find it.
There is a psychological aspect for children who need to wear AFO braces. They need to understand the function of the device, and they also have to be willing to accept it. If in addition to having to wear a brace on their leg they are not able to wear the shoes that they like, they will have a much harder time accepting the brace. I was really happy once I found out about Billy shoes as the shoes combine fashion with function.
If you’re pressed for time you can jump directly to the selection of Billy shoes for kids who wear AFOs.
Physical and occupational therapists refer families to the shoe store I work for to be fitted for shoes and orthotics. We get a lot of families who bring their AFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoe.
I have fitted several children who wear AFOs in Billy Shoes, and I can tell you that they are super easy to get on and off, and the shoes provide just the right amount of support and flexibility.
One of the features parents love the most about Billy shoes is how they come with a zipper that goes along the outside and around the toe, allowing the shoe to open up widely. This makes it really convenient for children to independently get the shoes on and off. However, it’s important to note that Billy shoes were not built specifically for AFO use, they were built to provide an alternative way to access entry into shoes.
What Makes Billy Shoes Ideal for AFOs?
Billy shoes provide 5 features that make them ideal for children who wear AFOs:
1️⃣ Easy On and Off: Billy shoes come with a zipper that goes along the outside and around the toe, allowing the upper of each shoe to open and fold over completely. This allows children to easily slide their feet with the AFOs inside the shoes.
2️⃣ Removable insoles: Billy shoes come with a removable insole which I recommend taking out to allow extra space for the AFOs.
3️⃣ Substantial Outsole: Billy shoes provide substantial outsoles to hold the AFO in place and support your child’s feet at the same time.
4️⃣ Flexible and Lightweight: Billy shoes are supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time to prevent your child’s feet and legs from easily getting tired.
5️⃣ Firm Heel Counter: This feature provides additional heel and ankle support as well as heel stabilization. Always make sure that the heel counter of the shoe feels firm instead of soft.
Getting Billy Shoes On!
Before fitting the shoes on your child’s feet make sure that you remove the original insoles (some of their shoes come with double insoles) and open up the zipper all the way.
Keep in mind that depending on your child’s AFOs you will likely have to unlace the shoes to get your child’s feet and AFOs inside the shoes.
Best Billy Shoes for Kids Who Wear AFOs
These are the best Billy shoes for kids who wear AFOs as they are the widest and deepest styles among the shoe brand. Some of the styles below are even available in wide widths (W). 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.
I strongly suggest removing the original insoles of the shoes to allow the AFOs to fit deeply inside the shoes and increase your child’s comfort. I also recommend unlacing the shoelaces the first time you try to get the AFOs inside the shoes.
What Shoe Size Should You Order?
One of the most common mistakes that I see parents make is to buy bigger shoes to accommodate their child’s AFOs.
Shoes that are too big cannot support your child’s gait or weight transition and will compromise your child’s stability.
Basically, you need to order a full shoe size bigger from the end of the AFO footplate. To be more precise, there should be some space between the end of the AFO footplate and the end of the shoes —approximately 3/8 of an inch or 0.8 centimeters— which translates to a full shoe size larger.
One of the most common reasons why children need to wear AFOs is to improve their stability. However, if you provide your child with shoes that are way too big, you’re stealing that stability right back. When it comes to ordering the correct shoe size every quarter-inch of improvement is worth fighting for.
Keep in mind that not all AFOs are the same so if you are unsure whether Billy shoes will work for your child’s specific AFO do not hesitate to contact me at:
How to Check if Billy Shoes are Fitting Correctly
Since the whole side and front part of Billy’s shoes opens up completely, you will be able to easily visualize how much space there is between the end of the AFO footplate and the end of the shoes. It’s normal to have some room between the end of the AFO footplate and the end of the shoes (right image), but if you notice excessive room (left image) it’s highly likely that the shoes are too big for your child’s feet.
How to Order the Correct Size for Your Child’s AFOs?
I came up with a system to help those families who are unsure about what shoe size they need to order for their child’s AFOs.
All you need to follow my method is a measuring tape to measure your child’s AFOs. I will then input those measurements in the Brannock Device (you can do this yourself if you have one at home), and this will retrieve the shoe size that you need to order.
➡️ Step Number 1: Measure Your Child’s AFOs
Measure your child’s AFO brace from the back of the heel up to the front part of the brace as shown in the image below. You can either use a measuring tape or a ruler. Make note of that measurement and proceed to step number 2.
➡️ Step Number 2: Measure Your Child’s Foot Length
Measure your child’s feet while standing, as on weight-bearing the foot becomes longer.
Measure both feet up to the tip of your child’s longest toe. It’s imperative that you measure both feet since there is always one foot that is bigger than the other. Keep in mind that your child’s longest toe doesn’t necessarily have to be the big toe — it may in fact be the second or even the third toe.
Make a note of that measurement in centimeters or inches or email me the image showing the measurements (such as you see below) to avoid confusion with the measurements.
➡️ Step 3: Email Your Child’s Measurements
Email me your child’s feet and AFO measurements so I can tell you exactly what shoe size you should order for your child. Once I receive your child’s measurements I will respond in less than 24 hours:
Are Billy Shoes Durable for Everyday Wear?
Some families reported that the shoes fell apart too quickly, while some others had no issues with them.
In my experience, Billy shoes will hold up just fine as long as you get them in the correct size. However, if you buy shoes too big or too small it’s highly likely that the AFO will end up wearing the shoe down.
For example, if the shoes are fitted too big this will allow the AFO to move excessively inside the shoes, and that constant friction between the AFO and the shoe might end up destroying the shoes. On the other hand, if the shoes are fitted too small the AFO might end up poking a hole inside the shoe.
Are There Any Other Shoe Options for AFOs?
Yes, and you can access a larger selection of adaptive shoes for AFOs in a different resource I created.
You might want to choose from the New Balance, Stride Rite, or Tsukihoshi styles that I recommend in that article if you are concerned about the durability of the shoes.
Children who wear AFOs want to be able to wear the same shoes as their peers. Because of how much space the AFO takes, most of the time this is simply not possible.
I know that parents feel heartbroken as they notice the disappointment on their kids’ faces when not a single pair of the fashionable and cute shoes that they want to wear can fit over their AFO braces. I hope that these Billy shoes are fashionable enough to put a smile on your child’s face!