Shoes for Kids with Spina Bifida – Supportive and Deep to Accommodate Your Child’s Orthoses!

Spina Bifida occurs when a baby’s spine doesn’t form normally. The most common issue with Spina Bifida is the partial or complete paralysis of the legs and feet. This is the most common reason why children with Spina Bifida need orthotics or ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) to be fitted inside their shoes. Some children might also need to wear specially designed shoes, and I am here to show you a selection of the best shoes for kids with Spina Bifida.

If you have a child that is dealing with Spina Bifida, you must find a pair of shoes to support and protect your kids’ feet and spine from injury as well.

No two children with Spina Bifida are exactly alike, since some children might have issues that are more severe than others. Some children with Spina Bifida can walk without any aids or assistance, while some others might need foot or leg braces, crutches, or wheelchairs.

The correct type of shoes and braces help support the child’s weak muscles and keep the feet and legs in the proper position for standing and walking. The shoes and the orthotics work together in improving your child’s posture and realigning your kids’ feet and legs. The goal is to increase your child’s function and independence.

What a Difference the Correct Pair of Shoes Can Make!

Let me show you what a difference the correct pair of shoes can make in improving your child’s overall posture, which starts from their feet.

The picture below shows a child wearing a pair of unsupportive shoes. Do you notice how the feet are turning inwards? This child might be flat-footed, have rolled ankles, low muscle tone, or might have a weak calf muscle.

Before Image


Now let’s take a look at a picture of the same child wearing a pair of supportive shoes. Do you notice how straighter the child’s feet look? This will improve your child’s overall posture and allow your child to walk and run straighter.

After Image


At the shoe store where I work, we carry some of the most supportive children’s shoes and orthotics and I will share with you my perspective on the best shoe brands for kids, and the best shoe styles among those brands, based on my experience.

Your physical therapist will work with your children and show you exercises to improve your child’s strength, flexibility, and movement. Children with Spina Bifida can develop blisters, calluses, and sores on their feet and ankles, but they won’t be able to tell their parents because they might not be able to feel certain parts of their bodies. This is the reason why you must always check your kids’ feet periodically.

The best way to prevent these foot conditions from happening is by providing your child with the correct pair of orthotics, shoes, and socks.

Has Your Child Been Fitted for a Pair of Orthotics?

Certain orthotics and AFOs are specifically designed to treat foot and leg disorders in children. They also help treat other foot and leg conditions such as low muscle tone, knock knees, or rolled ankles. Most children with Spina Bifida end up wearing an AFO, which is one of the most effective orthotics, but the downside is that there is a very small selection of shoes capable of accommodating an AFO.

There are different types of orthotics available to provide proper body alignment, help your child with balance, and decrease effort during walking. Which type of orthotic your child needs depends on what foot and leg conditions your child might have.

Your pediatrician or physical therapist will determine how much stability your child needs. Some children don’t need any orthotic intervention, but when children are trying to stand on their own and their lower limbs are not supporting them well, then they need to be fitted for an orthotic to provide them with extra strength.

I Can Help You Find the Perfect Pair of Shoes for Your Child’s Orthotics

Finding a pair of shoes to accommodate your child’s orthotics can be an extremely frustrating and time-consuming experience, especially if you don’t know what shoes to look for. I have been contacted by several parents who returned to their homes practically in tears a few times and felt defeated because they couldn’t find a single pair of shoes to fit over their child’s AFOs.

Who knew that buying shoes for your kids could be such an emotional experience!?

Before I provide you with a selection of the best shoes for kids with Spina Bifida, let me first show you what features the shoes I recommend provide.

Shoes for Spina Bifida – The 5 Most Important Features!

1️⃣ Extra Depth: Since most children with Spina Bifida need to wear orthotics inside their shoes, shoes with extra depth prevent children from getting the impression that their feet are coming out of the shoes when they walk. Shoes with extra depth also help prevent the top part of your kids’ feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoes.

Let me show you the difference between a pair of shoes that provides extra depth versus one that doesn’t. For better visualization purposes, there is an orthotic fitted inside the shoes. Do you notice how the orthotic is sitting much deeper in the New Balance shoe (image on the right) compared to the See Kai Run one (image on the left)?

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 rounder toe-boxes help prevent your child’s orthotics 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 also attenuates the impact that your kids’ feet and legs take every time they come 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 or AFO to work in your kids’ shoes. Below is where the heel counter of the shoe is located:


Whether your child can walk or needs to use a wheelchair, protecting your child’s feet is very important, especially if they have nerve damage.

Now that you know what features your kids’ shoes must provide to provide good support to your kids’ feet and accommodate an orthotic, you are ready to take a look at a selection of the best shoes for kids with Spina Bifida.

I only write reviews of shoes 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 Spina Bifida

Below you can find a selection of the best shoes for kids with Spina Bifida.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if your child has narrow feet and needs a different selection of shoes. My e-mail address is:

[email protected]

Children with Spina Bifida are at greater risk of being overweight because they are less mobile than someone with normal leg function. All parents want their children to be able to run, explore, play, and have adventures.

I want to remind parents that walking is only one method for their kids of getting around. The most important factor is that your child becomes as independent as possible, no matter what method of mobility is used.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble finding a particular shoe to accommodate your child’s foot condition or particular foot shape, it’s highly likely that I have fitted it before and I will help you find it.

Have you found a particular shoe style that has worked well with your child’s AFOs? Please share your findings below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.