Durable Shoes for Kids Who Wear AFOs – Prevent Your Child’s Shoes From Falling Apart

Are you frustrated about spending money on your child’s shoes just to find out that they fall apart after a week or a month of wearing them? I speak with families of children who wear AFOs on a daily basis, and this is a major problem for most of them. Some families see the front part of the shoe fall apart, while for others is the zipper closure or the bottom of the sole. Please note that while more expensive shoes don’t automatically translate into better shoes for your child, the cheaper the shoe is, the less quality, thought, and care shoe companies put into that shoe. Let’s take a look at a list of the most durable shoes for kids who wear AFOs based on my many years of shoe fitting experience.

Many families are not only frustrated about their child’s current shoes falling apart, but they also feel uneasy about what specific shoes they should try on next. They certainly don’t want to buy the same pair again, as they don’t know whether it will fall apart again or not.

I have fitted many different shoe brands that work well with AFOs such as Billy shoes, Ikikis, Stride Rite and See Kai Run adaptable line, New Balance, PLAE, Tsukihoshi, as well as the Nike flyease. Let me tell you that among all of these shoe brands, there are certain shoe models that are a lot more durable than others. I mention this because a lot of families have complained about Billy shoes falling apart too quickly, but not all Billy shoes are made the same way. I will expand on this shortly.

Kindly note that if you are in a rush you can go directly to the selection of durable shoes for kids who wear AFOs.

3 Main Reasons Why Your Kids’ Shoes Keep Falling Apart So Fast

1️⃣ Type of AFOs (Hinges vs. Unhinged AFOs)

Not all AFOs are the same. Some of them have bulky hardware that places extra stress and pressure points on the shoes, which might lead to the shoes falling apart faster. It’s important to note that it’s completely normal for some shoes to exhibit wear and tear with the metal hinges of AFOs, but the key is not to have the AFOs destroy the shoes by making holes or making the shoe not functional.

2️⃣ Buying the Wrong Shoe Size

Most families tend to fit their children in shoes that are too big. Shoes that are too long or too wide can be a contributing cause of the shoes falling apart faster. You should also keep in mind that shoes that are the wrong size can make your child’s AFOs virtually worthless.

3️⃣ Low-Quality Materials

The shoes that you are providing for your child are made of low-quality materials leading to the shoes falling apart faster.

How Long Should Your Kids’ Shoes Last? – Let’s Set Expectations Straight!

In my experience, depending on the child’s age, the shoes should last anywhere from 5 to 6 months, considering that the correct amount of growing room was left inside the shoe to begin with. However, this can vary depending on whether your child crawls more than walks, the position your child sits, and the degree of your child’s foot condition (mild, moderate, strong).

The Zipper of the Shoes Keep Falling Apart – Don’t Blame All Billy Shoes!

One common complaint I have seen from many families is about the shoe brand Billy. On the other hand, 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, which allows 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.

That being said, there are certain Billy shoe styles that are a lot more durable than others. For example, did you know that the lining of the WDR version is a lot more substantial compared to the regular version? This version also has 2 removable insoles. I will provide you with a link to this specific style shortly.

Canvas or Leather Shoes? – Which is the Most Durable Material?

Both leather and canvas shoes can be durable, but in general, leather shoes tend to be more durable than canvas shoes. Leather is a strong and durable material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Most Durable Shoes for Kids Who Wear AFOs

There is no need to emphasize that all children are different with different diagnosis and activity levels, so of course the amount of wear and tear on the shoes will be different. With that said, these are the most durable shoes for children who wear AFOs. You will notice shoes from different shoe brands, but in my experience, nothing beats the way the New Balance model below can take the wear and tear. 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.

Do You Have a Specific Budget? – Contact Us for Personalized Recommendations!

If you don’t want to spend more than a certain amount of money on your kids’ shoes let me know and I will be able to send you specific shoe recommendations. Make sure to include in your email the shoe size that you need for your child and the country where you live so I can check what shoes you might be able to order. You can either contact us via email or through the comments section below.

Don’t Order the Shoes I Recommend Without Knowing Your Child’s Shoe Size

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 feet and 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 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:

[email protected]

How About Getting Shoes From Walmart and Target? – Affordable Shoes for AFOs

Buying shoes at these stores is usually a hit or miss. Some families have had good luck buying shoes from Walmart and Target, but it’s unclear whether they bought the correct size or went overly large to accommodate the AFOs. You can pretty much get any shoe to work with your child’s AFOs if you are buying shoes two full shoe sizes larger than your child’s current foot size.

Share Your Recommendations and Experiences – Get Involved!

Please let us know in the comments section below if you have found a durable pair of shoes that worked well for your child’s AFOs and how much you spent on them. I am sure other families will find your feedback helpful!