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Find Out the Right Shoe Size for Kids Who Wear a SMO on One Foot and an AFO on the Other Foot


Is your child required to wear one SMO (supramalleolar orthoses) on one foot and an AFO (ankle foot orthoses) on the other foot? Are you having a hard time figuring out what shoe size you should buy to make up the difference? It can be quite confusing to figure out whether your child should wear two different shoe sizes (one to accommodate the SMO and a larger one to accommodate the AFO), or whether your child can get away with wearing the same shoe size for both the SMO and AFO. Don’t fret, I will help you find out the right shoe size for kids who wear a SMO on one foot and an AFO on the other foot.

AFOs and SMOs both offer unique advantages and for some children, the ideal solution isn’t one or the other, but both. These braces can do amazing things when it comes to improving your child’s mobility and control. Unfortunately, most of these orthoses tend to be heavy and bulky, which makes finding shoes a frustrating and time-consuming experience.

My Experience in Fitting Shoes for Children Who Wear AFOs and SMOs

My name is Juan Valenzuela and I work for a specialized children’s shoe store that focuses on helping children with “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot and leg problems, the store provides regular shoe fittings as well. In short, I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last decade and I am passionate about fitting children’s shoes as I truly believe that finding the correct type of shoes can be life-changing.


Let me start by saying that there are many different types of AFOs and SMOs and every single style is made for a reason and one is not better than the other, it simply depends on the child and his/her needs. That being said, the braces and the shoes work together in helping treat your child’s foot condition, and if the shoes don’t fit correctly your child won’t get the full benefits that the braces have to offer.

Some parents don’t know the difference between AFOs and SMOs, so let’s start by visualizing the difference.

How Does an SMO Look Like?

SMOs tend to take less space inside the shoes and are significantly shorter than AFOs. Below there is an image of an SMO that doesn’t have a footplate that extends over the toes:


Please note that some SMOs do have a footplate that extends over the toes. Take a look at the image below:


How Does an AFO Look Like?

An AFO is a type of brace that is quite tall and usually sits just below your child’s knees. This type of brace has a footplate that extends over the toes as shown in the image below:


As you can see, there is a considerable difference in how much space AFOs and SMOs will take inside the shoes. I always explain to parents that it is a lot easier to find shoes for children who wear SMOs compared to children who wear AFOs.

Find Out the Right Shoe Size for Kids Who Wear a SMO on One Foot and an AFO on the Other Foot

➡️ Step Number 1: Measure Your Child’s AFO Footplate

Measure your child’s AFO footplate from the back of the heel up to the front part of the brace as shown in the image below. Make note of that measurement or e-mail me the image showing the measurements (such as you see below) to avoid confusion with the measurements.


➡️ Step Number 2: Measure Your Child’s SMO Footplate

You only need to do this step if your child has an SMO with a footplate that extends over the toes. If your child does have an SMO with a footplate that extends over the toes measure it the same way as shown in step number 1.

➡️ Step Number 3: Measure Your Child’s Foot Length

Measure both feet up to the tip of your child’s longest toe. You must 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.


➡️ Final Step

Send me your child’s foot measurements as well as the measurements for the AFO/SMO via e-mail so that 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:


Once you confirm whether you need to buy the same shoe size to accommodate both feet or if you need one shoe size for the AFOs and a smaller one for the SMOs, you will be ready to start looking for shoes.

If you must buy two different shoe sizes, I suggest that you look at this resource:

Companies Allowing Purchase of Mismatched Shoe Sizes for Kids

What Are the Best Sneakers for Kids Who Wear AFOs or SMOs?

The two resources below might also come in handy if you are unsure about which specific models will work best for your child’s braces:

Best Shoes for Kids with AFOs – Stop Buying Bigger Shoes to Accommodate the AFOs!

Shoes for SMOs – Extra Deep, Supportive, Flexible, and with Wider Openings!

I understand how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to find the correct pair of shoes for children who wear an AFO on one foot and a SMO on the other foot. I hope I made things a little easier for you and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


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.

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