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Shoes For Kids With Sensory Issues – Let’s Find Some Magical Shoes!

Shoes For Kids With Sensory Issues

Are you having a hard time finding shoes for your child? Does he or she always complain while trying shoes on? If your child can’t stand the way shoes and socks feel, I totally understand what they are going through! Be patient! They are complaining for a reason! I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store, where I handle 200 fittings and try-ons per week! Every time I try-on a pair of shoes on a child with sensory issues they will always complain and say:

Too tight!

Too pinchy!

Too bumpy!

Sound familiar?

The wrong pair of shoes can be a source of great discomfort for children who experience sensory issues in their feet. If your child has sensory issues, finding the right pair of shoes can be quite a stressful experience for you and your child. Your child will express great discomfort and complain about the shoes feeling too tight, too loose, too narrow

The last child I helped who had sensory issues tried several pair of shoes before yelling in the middle of the store, “What in the world are these shoes made of?!”

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

I will guide you and help you find the best type of shoes for kids with sensory issues! The first step when you go to the shoe store do not hesitate to tell the shoe fitter or the person assisting that your child has sensory issues. This allows the shoe fitter to understand the situation better and act accordingly.

Kid With Shoes

Kids With Sensory Issues – Finding The Perfect Shoes For Their Feet!

Sensory issues call for innovation in shoes that fit the demands of your kid. Let’s take a look at some guidelines you can follow when buying shoes for kids with sensory issues! I am also going to share certain techniques that you can follow to help you handle the situation better.

The first thing I am going to emphasize is the importance of wearing the correct pair of socks! Please keep in mind that the type of socks you get for your child will play a HUGE role in how his shoes feel!

In order to find the perfect pair of shoes for your child with sensory issues you MUST follow these 6 steps:

1- Get The Right Pair Of Socks!

The first step before your child even tries on the shoes MUST be to make sure that your child is wearing the right type of socks since they WILL affect the way the shoes feel. Seamless socks are a must for your child! These socks will prevent your children from throwing themselves on the floor and howling! It is important to choose a fabric which feels soft to your kid’s feet.

I describe the best socks for a child with sensory issues in this post:

Seamless Socks For Kids – Stop The Struggle Of Putting Socks On!

2- Seam-Free Fabric Shoes!

Finding a soft, seam-free shoe, made from soft, premium leather will be a great place to start when trying shoes for your child. Ideally you will also want to find a shoe with a tongue that opens widely, so it’s easy for your child to get the shoe on without pressing on the foot too much. I will describe these type of shoes below!

3- Elastic Heel Counter!

The heel counter of the shoe should not be too stiff or too tight. The heel counter should be able to provide good ankle support but avoid any contact or pressure on the foot.

4- Lightweight But Supportive Shoes!

Shoes should be lightweight and flexible, but NO minimalist shoes! There are plenty of shoes now that are lightweight and flexible while also being  supportive for your child to wear everyday. Avoiding bulky and heavy shoes will allow your child to stop focusing on the weight of the shoes, hence shifting the attention away from the shoes!

5- Finding The Perfect Pair Of Shoes!

Follow all the guidelines I mentioned before and chances are, the shoe will feel much better on your kids’ feet! If you don’t have a local children’s shoe store to take your child to be properly fitted for shoes, I will provide you with a description of the best fitting shoes for a child that has sensory issues. Below you can find a list of some of the best shoes that kids with sensory issues have loved in my experience fitting them!

The shoes in the first-row fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.

The shoes in the second-row fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.

Once you order a pair of shoes for your child, try them on with the right type of socks and ask how the shoes feel. This will help you clarify whether you need to get a longer or wider size. In most cases, children with sensory issues like their shoes to be fitted loosely.

Don’t get frustrated when your child keeps telling you that every single pair of shoes feels too tight; keep trying shoes on until you find the perfect one. However, NEVER get a larger size to accommodate for the tightness, try shoes in a wider width instead. This works 90% of the time, and this way we don’t compromise your kids’ stability by fitting them in shoes that are too long.

If you are not sure if  you got the correct pair of shoes for your child, take a look at this post where I explain how to make sure your kids’ shoes fit. The post is called:

How Can I Make Sure My Kids’ Shoes Fit? – Learn The Secret Here!

6-  Desensitization Of Feet                                                                                                                                                        
In case you followed all these steps and your kid is still having a hard time putting on the shoes, try warming up his feet by massaging them before putting the shoes or socks on. This will help desensitize the feet and will make him less sensitive to the touch.

The Best Shoes For Kids With Sensory Issues

Shoes For Kids’ With Sensory Issues – The Secret Revealed!

Kids with sensory issues have special needs that must be taken care of. I have not only given you a set of guidelines to follow when shopping for shoes for your kid with sensory issues, I have also explained the importance of wearing the right type of socks! Let’s put a smile in your kids’ face! I want your children to go from:

“These are the worst shoes and socks in the world”


“I love these shoes!!!!! They are the best shoes in the whole wide world!”

Remember that accommodating sensory issues not not mean you have to compromise the style and fashion sense of your kid. Having sensory issues doesn’t mean that all socks and shoes of your kid will be devoid of charming details. Just be patient, follow my guidelines, and you will find the perfect pair of shoes for your child!

Do you have a child with sensory issues? Are you having a hard time finding a pair that they won’t complain about? Did you try any of the shoes that I recommended? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit from them!


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 kid’s feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

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35 Comments on Shoes For Kids With Sensory Issues – Let’s Find Some Magical Shoes!

  1. I never realized that there was so much thought you could put into choosing shoes 🙂 It makes sense though, especially for kids with sensory problems. They would be super sensitive to any discomfort that we may find to be minor. Do you have any advice on buying shoes for children whose feet are not quite the same size?

    • Andrea,

      Choosing the right shoes for our kids’ requires a great deal of knowledge and patience. Children who experience sensory issues have a really hard time getting used to their new shoes. They will feel any possible seam and discomfort in the shoe (or the sock) that you can imagine.

      Most of us have a half a size difference between our feet. I have fitted children in shoes that had a whole size difference, and the only thing you need to do is to not leave as much growing room as you would in the longer foot. If the child has more than a whole size difference, you should strongly consider buying him/her two different pair of shoe sizes. Stores normally provide the customer with a 50% discount in the second pair of shoes.

  2. Hi,
    These sound like great tips for fitting any child’s shoes not just those with sensory issues. However, I understand that the issues you cover make it particularly challenging.
    My niece is autistic and non-verbal and it is the measuring process that she struggles with rather than the fitting of the shoes themselves. Her mum measures her feet at home so it’s not a stranger touching her feet, do you have any advice on measuring correctly?
    Thank you

    • Jenny,

      Learning how to measure a kids’ foot is not the complicated part, that is actually quite easy to learn. The issue is that what your child measures is just the starting point of the actual size she might end up with. Every shoe brand and style within the brand, will fit differently. I will advise your sister to take her to the closest shoe fitting store, and ask the fitter if she can measure the child herself. After that, the fitter will be able to point out which shoes will be able to fit the shape of your niece better.

      Do you know what measuring tool is your sister using? I wrote a post about the best measuring devices for kids: Shoe Size Measuring Device – Stop Buying The Wrong Shoe Size.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. I really admire your dedication to guide parents in choosing the right pair of shoes for their children. Not so many parents are really aware of the effects of giving the wrong shoes to children because they can not clearly communicate their problems. With your blogs, their little voices can now be heard and parents can be properly guided to give full attention to their child’s little feet.

    • That is exactly the reason why I created this website, to help parents make the most informative decision when it comes to choosing their children shoes. The type of shoes we wear will impact the way we walk and run. Keeping our kids’ feet healthy from an early stage will prevent future foot, leg, and lower back problems.

  4. Dear Juan Pablo,

    Thank you for the article. Luckily, we have not had trouble finding suitable shoes for our 4 kids. But I know the problem from other family members.

    I know how hard it can be to find a proper pair of shoes (as you said – too hard, too tight, too loose, too narrow, etc., etc.)

    Buying shoes from the internet can be troublesome again – because you cannot try beforehand.

    Overall, I found these tips (offered here) useful and I am thankful 🙂

    Great job!

    • Egon,

      I am glad all of your children are wearing the right shoe size! It is something you should be proud of, since it is not an easy task to accomplish. Do you have a local shoe store that you take them to get fitted?

  5. Hi there, many thanks for all your helpful information on shoes, I have 3 kids myself and the second one aged 5 is always complaining about her shoes being too tight and uncomfortable, your suggestion on getting a wider width may actually help her and I will try it out, I will check out your next post on the Velcro straps and hopefully your suggestions can work for her, thanks

    • Ryan,

      Remember to always go wider instead of longer when your kids’ complain about their shoes feeling too tight, unless there is actually no room between the end of her longest toe and the end of the shoe. If we keep going longer when our kids’ complain about the shoes feeling too tight, we will end up compromising their stability.

    • Hello
      I have a six year old who hates all shoes EXCEPT ugh boots. We tried sneakers Nike’s other brands laces no laces , Velcro Vans ughhhh nothing worked .
      Only uggs. And he used to only wear two pair of socks but now wants to wear
      3 or 4 pairs — he likes the compression :/
      Tightness … any ideas ?’ And he wears socks 24/7 except in a bath or at a pool — we’re desperately trying to figure out what to do – the doctor says none of this will
      Hurt his growth but we’re super concerned .

      • Hello Stacie,

        I believe it might be related to the comfort and softness that Ugg boots provide. He probably likes to be able to wiggle his toes and have ample room for his feet. My only concern is that Ugg boots don’t provide any support, so he will be much better off in a pair of sneakers.

        You mentioned Nike and Vans but have you tried New Balance shoes in extra wide widths?

        For example, New Balance shoe styles tend to be very deep and they come with the roundest toed-boxes. This will allow your kids’ feet to sit deeply inside the shoe and the round toed-box will allow him to freely move his toes. Even if the likes to wear plenty of socks these shoe styles will provide extra room to accommodate them.

        My recommendation is to try a pair of compression socks and see if he likes how they feel. I would recommend you try any of these shoe styles:

        1st Choice: New Balance Extra Wide

        2nd Choice

        I hope this helps!

  6. do you have tennis shoes you would recommend for a child that complains about the back/heel of the shoe? I think it is too high for her. Thank you!

  7. Are there any sandals you’d recommend? I get Keens for my younger kids, but my oldest can’t stand the feel of them. I need something he can hike, run, and get wet in since we go to the creek each week. Any leads would be appreciated! (He has also struggled with the closed toed Chacos).

  8. First of all thank you so much for these articles. My daughter has SPD among other issues and the sock and shoe sensitivity has taken on a life of its own lately. We’re to the point that she’s missing school and not leaving the house only because she can not tolerate the feeling of the socks and shoes. Do you have any suggestions for a narrow heel? She’s got my goofy feet that have an extremely high instep/arch and then a narrow heel. We’ll get a new pair of shoes on her and she’ll say they feel ok, but then as soon as she stands and walks she flips out and rips them off saying her heel is slipping. Ive always just used heel liners myself for this but she says she hates the way THOSE feel! Help?!

  9. My son has sensory issues with his toe. Everything is too tight, pinches and he is wearing shoes that are two sizes too big for him but the shoe only lasts a few weeks then it is an issue again. One of our biggest struggles is cleats. He is also a baseball player and we can’t find cleats that he will wear without a ton of tears and yelling. He loves baseball and it is boarder line him giving it up just so he isn’t tormented because he has to wear cleats.

    • Andrea,

      Does your son has wide or extra wide feet? I know he is having a hard time dealing with the shoes, but providing him with a shoe that is two sizes too long will only compromise his stability and make him more prone to falling down. I want you to try a wider shoe instead of a longer one. When it comes to baseball cleats, I do have something in mind that might work. There is one baseball cleat that is available in wide widths, or you can even use the soccer one for baseball. You can find them in this post:
      Wide Width Baseball Cleats – They Do Exist!

      Please let me know if this helps!

  10. Do you have any recommendations for summer shoes? We live in the mountains in Colorado. We have snow boots, but she doesn’t usually need something so burly. She LOVES sweater boots, but she tears them apart in minutes

      • well, my question was confusing! I meant winter shoes – not summer shoes! Our girl puts on sneakers and is instantly mad at the world, but we need something that will keep her foot warm and dry. She’d love to live in flip flops, but that’s just not possible here!

        • Hello Nicole,

          Do you know her foot width? There are a couple of nice hiking waterproof boots that are the most comfortable ones and they tend to fit a medium foot width to a wide foot.You can find them below (the first two choices I have fitted before and I know how great they are in terms of comfort and quality).

  11. I am at my wits end with trying to find shoes for my 6 year old daughter. We must have tried 20 pairs over the past 2 weeks and there were plenty of shoes that fit her but they just didn’t feel right. It is causing me so much stress. I don’t know what to do as she has no shoes to wear. She is a D width so very narrow but hates them being tight on the side or the top but also hates them being loose around the heel. Help. I have tried Clarks, Startrite, every trainer I can think of, pumps, M&S, Next, Skechers. She just cannot cope with the feel of shoes. It is such a stress for me and I know she cannot help it but at the end of the day she needs to wear shoes.

    • Hello Hannah,

      Sorry to hear that since I know how frustrating that can be.

      Have you tried the New Balance or Saucony styles I recommend? These styles tend to be very soft and cushiony.

      Did you try a pair of sneakers with shoelaces for her? This can take care of allowing some extra room for her toes to freely move inside the shoe without having too much extra space around her ankles. They key is also to try to distract her while is trying the shoes on so she doesn’t think too much about it. If you go try shoes for her and nothing feels right just try another day and start fresh. Try putting two different shoe styles on her feet and ask her which ones feels better.If you are sure you are getting the correct shoe style and shoe size for her then it will be a matter of her getting used to. I hope this helps!

  12. I’m so exhausted from finding a pair of shoes for my son. He’s 11 so he’s in big kid shoes. Therefore, certain options aren’t even available to him because he’s older. The ONLY thing he will wear is Bogs boots or crocs. It’s weird, he normally wants everything as tight as possible, if he finds a shoe we can get him to put on he has to tie it so dang tight and multiple times. But yet he prefers the loose croc. Recently he broke his foot in PE class because he was wearing crocs. He now needs an actual shoe for school. I just dread finding one. The last time we tried he tried on 10+ pairs, ended up picking one and then 2 weeks later he refused to wear them. Please help with brands that may work for him.

    • Hello Amber,

      From what you told me, your child used to like his shoes extremely tight but now it seems that he likes them to be looser. What is his shoe size?
      There is a particular shoe brand named Tsukihoshi that gives that “loose feel”, and the shoes are very soft and comfortable. Once you send your child’s shoe size I can send you specific recommendations.

  13. My 6 year old son struggles with this stress on a daily basis. Unfortunately the problem is not with the actual shoes or socks. I buy only seamless socks. Even those I have to turn inside out. That seems to help a little. He can wear the same pair of shoes every day but some days they bother him more than others. Especially in the morning before school. I’ll definitely try massaging his feet in the morning. Hope this will help🙏🏻

    • Thank you for sharing Darlene! I believe that the shoes and socks do play an important role because children won’t tolerate any type of shoes and socks.Massaging the feet will make an important difference as well since this will help desensitize the feet and will make him less sensitive to the touch.

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