Sandals for Kids with Sensory Issues – Soft Materials, Seam Free Fabrics, and Fully Adjustable!

Children with sensory issues have a hard time wearing shoes as they usually complain that they feel “too tight”, “too loose”, “too pinchy” and rub their feet the wrong way. I strongly recommend that children with sensory issues are fitted for shoes at their local shoe store, but the issue is that they might find these stores overwhelming and stressful, triggering anxiety and disruptive behavior. I am going to try to make things a little easier for you by showing you a list of the best sandals for kids with sensory issues based on my 10 years of shoe fitting experience.

Let me start by saying that you are not alone. There are several children with sensory issues who throw tantrums and meltdowns and refuse to wear their shoes. I have helped several children find the perfect pair of shoes for their feet, and I am confident that I will be able to help your child as well.

When looking for shoes for a child with sensory issues it is all about finding the most comfortable shoe. I usually look for shoes with seam-free fabric interiors that have padded elastic collars with heel tabs to help adjust the shoe around the heels. As far as sandals are concerned, I usually go with the ones that have multiple points of adjustability, that way children can control how tight or loose they want the sandals to feel.

My Experience Helping Children with Sensory Issues – Over a Decade of Fitting Shoes!

Many physical and occupational therapists refer children to the shoe store that I work for to be fitted for shoes and orthotics. When a family of a child with sensory issues walks into the shoe store where I work my first question to the child is: Do you prefer a loose-fitting or tight-fitting shoe?


It is important to have a great deal of patience and understanding when dealing with a child with sensory issues. I have fitted shoes for several children with sensory issues, and one of the things you must understand is that they are not being bratty, they are simply experiencing a great deal of discomfort!

I prefer when parents tell me that their children are dealing with sensory issues as that allows me to understand the situation better and act accordingly, so don’t hesitate to tell the shoe fitter or the person assisting you that your child has sensory issues.

Does Your Child Complain that the Shoes Feel Too Tight or Too Loose?

Most children with sensory issues that I have helped dislike tight fitting shoes, and prefer their shoes to be fitted on the bigger side. That being said, I also helped a large number of children who complained that the shoes felt too loose no matter how hard they pulled the velcro straps.

This is the reason why your kids’ sandals should provide several points of adjustability, so your child can adjust how tight or loose he/she wants the sandals to feel. You will notice that some of the sandals that I recommend provide 3 points of adjustability (front, top, and back).

What Sandals Work Best for Kids with Sensory Issues?

I have found that sandals that are made of softer materials and provide extra padding around the heels tend to be the most effective ones for kids with sensory issues. Over the years I also noticed that sandals with extra depth and rounder toe-boxes tend to fit and feel more comfortable.

The sandals that I recommend are made to encourage natural movement and support healthy foot development. They are also lightweight , flexible, and provide sensory-friendly footbeds to reduce pain.

One important feature that you should look for in your kids’ sandals is extra padding around the heels made of soft fabrics. This will help increase your child’s comfort and prevent the sandals from rubbing your child’s feet the wrong way.

Don’t worry, I am not just listing the features that your kids’ sandals should provide. Here is a list of the best sandals for kids with sensory issues to help your child with their summer shoe wearing experience. 

Some families told me that they like to “desensitize” their child’s feet before putting the shoes on. This means that they warm up the feet with a massage before putting on shoes. 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.

Best Sandals for Kids with Sensory Issues

Can’t Seem to Find Your Child’s Shoe Size?

If you are having a hard time finding the sandals in your child’s shoe size you can contact me via email and I will provide you with different sandals recommendations:

[email protected]

Is It Safe for My Child to Wear Crocs During the Summer?

Some children just use Crocs during the summer as they like the “loose” feel that they provide. Crocs are fine to wear for a couple of hours, but I strongly suggest that after 4 to 5 hours you switch your child to a pair of more supportive shoes. Some children who love to wear Crocs also like to wear Native shoes.

Do You Need to Buy Multiple Pairs of Shoes? – Shoe Size Matters!

If you like one of the specific sandals that I recommend, I suggest that you order it in multiple sizes and have your child try them on at home. Most children with sensory issues who I have helped at the shoe store prefer their shoes to be fitted on the bigger side, while some others like their shoes to fit on the tighter side.

There is a great resource I created where I help parents determine their child’s exact foot length and shape (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide, high instep). This resource will help avoid the stress of having your child’s feet touched while at the store and reduce the likelihood of ordering the wrong shoe size.

If you have a specialized children’s shoe store in your area I suggest that you contact them in advance to find out what their least busy times are. This way you will reduce the chances of your child getting overwhelmed and stressed and provide the shoe fitter with extra time to find out the perfect pair of shoes for your child. The shoe store that I work for allows parents to schedule appointments before/after hours to accommodate children with sensory issues or other conditions.

It’s important that you identify your child’s triggers that way you can go to the shoe store prepared to minimize discomfort.

Does Your Child Need a Pair of Everyday Sneakers?

Find out which are the best everyday sneakers for children with sensory issues as they have softer materials and provide extra padding around the heels.

Should You Allow Your Child to Walk Barefoot?

There is nothing wrong with allowing children to walk barefoot as long as the child doesn’t have any foot conditions and they do it in a safe environment.

Before you leave I wanted to share one last tip I have based on my experiences at the shoe store. Don’t force your child to wear shoes. This can have a detrimental effect on their sensory system, making matters only worse. Take the time to try different shoe styles until you find one that your child can tolerate.

Speak your mind and let me know in the comments section below if you have found a specific pair of sandals that has worked well for your child’s feet!