Shoes for Kids with Cerebral Palsy – Wide Opening, Supportive, Deep, and with a Round Toe-Box!
Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. Children with cerebral palsy usually face loss of balance, reflexes, and coordination, impaired muscle tone, irregular posture, and gait disturbance. I am going to show you a list of the best shoes for kids with cerebral palsy that will help improve your child’s foot posture, walking gait, and coordination.
How Can the Correct Types of Shoes Help Children with Cerebral Palsy?
The correct type of shoes and orthotics help improve children’s stability and coordination, and improve their overall posture by helping them stand and walk straighter. AFOs (Ankle-Foot Orthotics) may be one of the solutions to help with mobility challenges.
Please keep in mind that no cerebral palsy case is the same. While a child with CP might be able to walk unassisted, another child might not be able to walk at all.
When children with cerebral palsy start their quest towards mobility, they tend to be fitted with AFO braces. Most children with cerebral palsy require orthotics and specifically designed shoes to support their needs and alleviate their quality of life.
I am here to help you find the perfect pair of shoes to complement the specific needs of your child.
Does Your Child Also Need a Pair of Orthotics?
Most children with cerebral palsy need to wear orthotics inside their shoes. The most common mistake parents make when trying to find shoes to accommodate their child’s orthotics is getting shoes that are too long to accommodate the orthotic inside the shoes. Another common mistake parents make is to assume that a shoe that is labeled as extra wide (XW) will automatically fit the shape of the orthotics.
When parents finally find shoes that are wide to accommodate an orthotic, they find that the shoes can’t be fastened because the braces stretched the shoe’s opening so much that the velcro straps for fastening the shoes can’t meet.
Finding a pair of shoes that will fit their kids’ foot shape and the orthotic device is a special challenge for many parents.
Before I provide you with a selection of the best shoes for kids with cerebral palsy, let me show you what features these shoes provide.
Shoes for Kids with Cerebral Palsy – The 5 Most Important Features!
I have spoken with several parents who have tried countless of different athletic brand-name shoes on their kids, only to find that most were not deep or wide enough to fit over the braces. These parents end up leaving the shoe store feeling frustrated and defeated.
There are 5 key features that your kids’ shoes must provide to accommodate an orthotic:
1️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature allows your child’s orthotics to fit deeply inside the shoes and prevents the top part of your child’s feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoes. Shoes with extra depth help prevent giving your children the impression that their feet are coming out of the shoes.
2️⃣ Rounder Toe-Boxes: This feature helps prevent your child’s toes from overlapping one another or rubbing against the side of the shoes. Shoes that come with a round toe-box also prevent the orthotic device from poking a hole in the front of your kids’ shoes.
3️⃣ Oversized Openings: This feature helps prevent you from having to shove your child’s foot in the shoes every time you have to put your kids’ shoes on.
4️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: This feature holds the orthotic in place and attenuates the impact that your kids’ feet and legs take every time they become in contact with the ground.
5️⃣ Firm Heel Counters: This part of the shoe provides ankle support. The heel counter of your kids’ shoes must be firm for the orthotic to work in your kids’ shoes. Below you can see an image that shows where the heel counter of the shoe is located:
Another important factor to take into consideration when shopping for shoes for your child with cerebral palsy is your child’s safety and comfort. I recommend providing your child with shoes that come with soft padding all around the shoe, such as below the tongue and around the heel counter. This will guarantee your child’s comfort.
Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Exact Foot Size? – Let’s Find Out!
I am always emphasizing to parents that it doesn’t matter how many features a particular shoe provides, if the shoes are not fitted properly which involves getting the correct shoe length and the correct shoe width, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the shoes have to offer.
You should take your child to a local children’s shoe store. The issue is that most stores have been closing down and parents need to end up buying their kids’ shoes online. There is nothing wrong with this, but you must know your child’s exact foot size to know what size to order.
I created a resource that showcases the best-fitting children’s shoe stores by state.
How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape from Home
If you don’t have a shoe store in your area, then proceed to take a look at an article I created that describes the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home. In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot length and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.
Converse Shoes for Orthotics? – Not a Good Idea!
One concern I have is the number of parents I see who bring their children to the store wearing a pair of Converse shoes with their orthotics or AFOs. They explain to me how easy these shoes are to get on and off, but the issue is that Converse shoes don’t provide the structure or the support that your kids need to get the full benefits of their orthotics.
Converse shoes are fashionable rather than functional shoes. They are recommended to be worn for only a couple of hours a day, even for those kids that don’t have foot issues. All Converse shoe styles come with a flat sole and a heel counter that is too soft.
Abnormal contractions of muscles in the feet of a child with cerebral palsy can lead to a flat foot, with no arch or a very low arch. This is most common when cerebral palsy causes the muscles in the foot to have low tone. The correct type of orthotics worn with the correct type of shoes will prevent your child’s feet from collapsing and turning inwards/outwards due to their flat feet.
Now that you know what features the shoes I recommend below provide to accommodate an orthotic and how you can figure out your child’s exact foot size from home, you are ready to take a look at a selection of the best shoes for kids with cerebral palsy.
I only write reviews of shoe styles that I have fitted before, so I can personally assess how well-made they are, the amount of support that they provide, and how well they fit. 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.
The Best Shoes for Kids with Cerebral Palsy
Below you can find a selection of the best shoes for kids with cerebral palsy. These shoes can fit children with narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet.
Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?
Do not hesitate to contact me directly via e-mail if you are looking for a different type of shoes in a specific color. My e-mail address is:
I always recommend parents provide their children with shoes that come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure, in particular when they require an orthotic to be worn inside their shoes. Shoelaces provide children with better stability and support, and they help keep the orthotic in place.
Before you leave, I wanted to tell you that socks play a key role in keeping your kids’ feet comfortable and healthy.
Most Comfortable Socks for AFOs
If your child is wearing AFO braces there is a particular type of seamless sock that is soft, durable, wicks perspiration, comes with an anti-microbial fabric and have a heel-free design that ensures a perfect fit.
These socks are long and thick enough to prevent your children from getting blisters or red spots from their AFOs. They work much better than traditional socks. Below you can find a selection of the best kids’ socks for AFOs:
Now that you know which are the best shoes for kids with cerebral palsy, you are ready to make the most informed decision.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have trouble finding a particular shoe style for your child, it’s highly likely that I have fitted it before, and I will help you find it.