Custom VS Over the Counter Orthotics for Kids – Let’s Stop Your Child’s Foot Pain!

Is your child experiencing foot and leg pain? Have you been debating whether your child should wear a pair of custom or over the counter orthotics? Some of the most common foot conditions that children experience are flat feet, overpronation, and rolled ankles. These conditions usually lead to foot and leg pain and affect your child’s overall posture, but the good news is that all of these foot conditions can be treated and corrected by wearing supportive shoes with the correct type of orthotics.

Most children’s foot problems arise when they have flat feet and when their feet and legs don’t align properly which is often referred to as in-toeing or out-toeing. When children are growing, the normal development of the pelvis and the spine will suffer if there is a foot imbalance.

If you fit your child in the correct pair of shoes and orthotics you will notice a difference in your child’s walking gait and posture right away. However, not all orthotics provide the same level of effectiveness when it comes to treating a specific child’s foot condition. I know which orthotics are better than others from having fitted them before.

Parents should be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions. Leaving your child’s foot condition untreated can only lead to the condition getting worse.

Should You Provide Your Child with a Pair of Custom or Over the Counter Orthotics?

I have fitted children with custom orthotics and over the counter ones, and I have fitted two specifics over the counter orthotics that have proven to be the most effective ones when it comes to treating different types of children’s foot conditions. These orthotics provide excellent arch and ankle support since they come with substantial outsoles and deep heel cups. I will show you these orthotics shortly, but first, let me tell you the advantages and disadvantages of wearing custom versus over the counter orthotics.

Custom Vs Over the Counter Orthotics for Kids

Custom Orthotics

Some podiatrists recommend children wear custom orthotics, which are actually really effective in treating children’s foot conditions.

These are the 2 main advantages of providing your child with a pair of custom orthotics:

✅ They can be customized to your child’s specific foot shape.

✅ They provide optimal arch and heel support.

These are the 2 main disadvantages of providing your child with a pair of custom orthotics:

❌ They tend to be a lot more expensive than over the counter ones. Custom orthotics can be $200 to $300 more expensive that over the counter ones.

❌ They are not immediately available. Your child might have to wait two to three weeks to start wearing them.

Over The Counter  Orthotics

These are the 2 main advantages of providing your child with a pair of over the counter orthotics:

✅ Off-the-shelf orthotics are more affordable than custom orthotics.

✅ They are immediately available so you won’t have to wait for 2 to 3 weeks to get them.

These are the 2 main disadvantages of providing your child with a pair of off-the-shelf orthotics:

❌ The fit is not as exact as a custom orthotic.

❌ There are only a few off-the-shelf orthotics that provide the correct amount of support.

Custom Vs Over the Counter Orthotics – Make the Right Decision!

I don’t recommend providing children with custom orthotics for the simple fact that they are not a cost-effective solution for a growing child. I have noticed how certain custom orthotics are not even more effective than certain over the counter ones, even though there is a huge price difference between the two.

I have been contacted by several frustrated parents who ended up with an expensive custom orthotic that was ineffective in correcting their child’s walking gait and posture.

There are several choices of over the counter children’s orthotics, and parents are often confused as to how to choose the best kind for their children’s feet. When parents look closely at these orthotics they all seem to look very similar and very different at the same time.

Over the Counter Orthotics – Before and After Images

Let’s compare two over the counter orthotics that look very similar but provide very different levels of support.

Both of these orthotics seem to have a supportive heel cup and a substantial built-in arch support. However, once we have a flat-footed child stand on these orthotics we can see how the amount of support that they provide is very different.

We can see how in the first image the child’s feet are still collapsing and turning inwards when standing in the orthotics. However, in the second image, the child’s feet look a lot straighter.


The over the counter orthotics that I recommend provide many of the features found in a custom orthotic, such as deep heel cups and substantial built-in arch support. Keep in mind that the over the counter orthotic that you should choose below depends on the degree of your child’s foot condition (mild, moderate, strong).

Over the Counter Orthotics for Kids: Ideal for Mild Cases of Pronation

Below you can find the most effective and supportive over the counter orthotic that I have fitted before for children with mild cases of pronation.

Over the Counter Orthotics for Kids: Ideal for Moderate to Strong Cases of Pronation

What Orthotic Size Should You Order?

The size chart below shows what gait plate size to order based on your child’s shoe size:


Please allow your child 2 weeks to 1 month to get used to how these orthotics feel inside the shoes. You should start noticing and improvement in your child’s walking gait and posture right away.

What Are the Best Sneakers for Children Who Wear Orthotics?

One thing I always emphasize to parents is that if they don’t fit their children in the correct pair of shoes, they will defeat the whole purpose of providing their children with an orthotic. The orthotics and the shoes work together in reducing and eliminating your child’s foot pain. Here you can find a selection of the best kids’ shoes for orthotics.

That article explains in detail everything that you need to know about the best children’s shoes for orthotics. The shoes described in that article provide extra depth, substantial outsoles, firmer heel counters, and removable insoles. I also always encourage parents to provide their children with shoelaces instead of velcro closure since shoelaces provide better support and stability.

I would love to know what your child’s experiences have been when wearing a custom or off-the-shelf orthotic. There are many parents out there that will benefit from learning from your experiences.