Shoes for Toddlers Who Wear AFOs – Extra Deep, Removable Insoles, and Oversized Openings!

Is your toddler dealing with a foot condition and has been diagnosed with AFOs? Are you feeling super overwhelmed and have no idea whether the AFOs will fit inside normal shoes? I have been fitting children’s shoes and AFOs for over a decade, and my first piece of advice is for you to wait until you receive the AFOs before buying new shoes. Once you receive the AFOs, you can start looking for shoes and socks. I will share with you a list of the best shoes for toddlers who wear AFOs based on my many years of shoe fitting experience.

Shoes that Work Well for Some Children Might Not Work As Well for Others

Be careful about buying shoes for your toddler’s AFOs because a friend or family member recommended them. I have noticed that in Facebook and community groups usually families recommend shoes that worked well for their children’s AFOs. However, not all AFOs or children’s feet are the same, and what works well for some children might not work as well for others. In addition, I have seen families recommend shoes that worked well for their children’s AFOs but the shoes were fitted overly large. You can fit any shoes in your child’s AFOs if you keep sizing up, but the idea is to stay as close to your child’s current foot size as possible.

AFOs can be prescribed for several reasons, but one main reason is to improve a child’s walking gait and stability. However, if you fit AFOs in shoes that are too big, you are stealing that stability right back.

My Experience Fitting Toddler’s Shoes and AFOs

If you have read any of my previous articles, you probably know by now that I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last 10 years, working for a specialized children’s shoe store that focuses on helping children with foot and leg problems.


Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time you can jump directly to the selection of shoes for AFOs.

Physical and occupational therapists refer families to the shoe store I work for to be fitted for shoes and orthotics. We get a lot of families who bring their AFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoe. After having tested several different shoe brands and styles, I became familiar with the best shoes for AFOs.

I already created a resource that helps families find the correct pair of shoes for their children’s AFOs called. but I wanted to create one specific resource geared towards toddlers and their AFOs. The main reason is that I know how overwhelmed parents can feel the first time their children are diagnosed with AFOs. So, as far as shoes and socks are concerned, I got you covered!

First Things First – Let’s Find Out What Shoe Size You Should Order for the AFOs

Before I show you a list of the best shoes for toddlers who wear AFOs, I want to make sure that you know what shoe size you need to order. If you already know what shoe size you need, you can scroll down to find the list of shoes I have put together. However, if you are unsure about what shoe size you should order I suggest that you use a free resource I created to prevent wasting time and money by returning the shoes back and forth.

Even when you retrieve the exact shoe size you need to order to accommodate your toddler’s AFOs, it’s highly likely that you will end up ordering the shoes in multiple sizes as it takes a lot of trial and error.

My Favorite Shoe Brands for Toddlers Who Wear AFOs

I made a list of shoe brands that have proven to work really well for children who wear AFOs. However, keep in mind that simply because I recommend a specific shoe brand that doesn’t mean that all shoes from that brand will work well for your toddler’s AFOs. There are only specific models among each shoe brand that work well with AFOs.

1️⃣ Stride Rite

This shoe brand has a specific line of shoes called “Adaptable Line” that is ideal for children with foot conditions, “complicated” foot shapes, or children who wear orthotics. The shoes have oversized openings, they are available in extra wide widths, and they are easily adaptable.

2️⃣ See Kai Run

This shoe brand also has a line called “The Dean Adapt High Top” that has shoes specially designed to accommodate orthotics such as AFOs, SMOs, and custom insoles. The sneakers open up super wide, have customizable straps, and are made with sensory-friendly materials.

3️⃣ Tsukihoshi

Tsukihoshi shoes are not labeled as wide or extra wide but fit naturally wide, and some styles have proven to work really well for AFOs and SMOs.

4️⃣ Billy Footwear

These shoes come with a zipper that goes along the outside and around the toe, allowing the shoe to open up widely. This makes it really convenient for children to independently get the shoes on and off. However, it’s important to note that Billy shoes were not built specifically for AFO use, they were built to provide an alternative way to access entry into shoes.

5️⃣ New Balance

This shoe brand has some specific models that are available in extra wide widths and provide extra depth at the same time, which is an excellent combination for fitting AFOs.

6️⃣ Ikiki

This shoe brand manufactures shoes that provide extra depth and oversized openings for easy on and off.

I have compiled a list of the best shoes among each one of the shoe brands that I mentioned above. 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 Shoes for Toddlers Who Wear AFOs

The shoes below are categorized into two columns (lace-up and velcro closure). Take a look at the description below each shoe image to check what specific features each shoe provides and the size you should order to accommodate the AFOs.

Remember that you will probably have to order the shoes in multiple sizes as it takes a lot of trial and error when it comes to fitting AFOs.

Unsure About What Specific Shoe Will Work Best for Your Toddler’s AFOs?

Do not hesitate to contact me through the comments section below or via email and I will guide you in the right direction: [email protected]

Are Shoes with Laces Better Compared to Shoes with Velcro Closure?

I always recommend a pair of shoes that come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure for children who wear AFOs or SMOs, as shoelaces help keep the orthotic in place. Shoelaces also provide better support and stability, and they will push your kids’ heels back supporting and securing them against the back of the shoes.

There is a specific shoe-lacing technique that I like to use for children who wear orthotics.

Feedback from Families! – Get Inspired!


What Makes the Shoes that I Recommended Ideal for Toddlers Who Wear AFOs?

1️⃣ Oversized Openings for Easy On & Off: This feature allows parents to easily slide the AFO inside the shoes so they don’t have to struggle every time they have to get the AFOs on and off.

2️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature allows the AFOs to fit deeply inside the shoes. The deeper the AFO sits inside the shoes, the more comfortable your toddler will feel. This feature can drastically increase your toddler’s comfort and prevent your child from getting the impression that his/her feet are coming out of the shoes.

3️⃣ Removable Insoles: By removing the original insoles of the shoes you will allow for extra room for the AFOs.

What Socks Work Best for Toddlers Who Wear AFOs?

Many medical professionals indicate that AFOs should not come into direct contact with the child’s skin. Always choose socks with no seams that are at least as tall as the AFOs. Thinner socks usually work the best, since thicker ones may not fit easily within the brace.

I have fitted socks that are made specifically for children who wear AFOs in their shoes, and these socks help provide your child with protection and comfort under their orthotics. You can find a list of these socks in the article below.

Let me know in the comments section below if you have found a specific shoe brand or shoe style that worked well for your toddler’s AFOs.