Snow Boots for Kids Who Wear AFOs – Wider Openings, Extra Deep, and Warm!

Does your child wear Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs) and are you having a hard time finding snow boots? Is this your child’s first winter with AFOs and you have no clue where to start? Some families are not even sure whether their children must absolutely wear boots with their AFOsor if they can go without them. Whether your child must wear boots with AFOs usually depends on how many hours your child will wear the boots and the degree of your child’s foot/leg condition, but I will expand on this shortly. In this article, I will provide you with a curated selection of the best snow boots for kids who wear AFOs.

My Experience Fitting Shoes and AFOs

At the children’s shoe store where I work we get a lot of families who bring their AFOs with them and we need to help them find the correct type of shoe. I am familiar with which snow boots are capable of accommodating AFOs and I can also guide you on how to order the correct shoe size online. 

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Pro Tip: If you are in a rush you can go directly to the selection of snow boots for AFOs

Have You Ordered Several Pairs of Boots and Had to Return Them All?

I have spoken with several families who ordered over 10 pairs of boots and had to return them all because none of them fit. Other families either tried to modify the liner or ripped the seams to make the boots open wider, but they were unsuccessful. My main goal is to provide you with a pair of winter boots that can fit your child’s AFOs without having to modify them or upsize any longer than two full shoe size than your child’s current foot size.

Be Careful About Taking Shoe Recommendations and Advice From Other Families

I have noticed how several families recommend specific shoe brands or styles that worked well for their children to other families, but it’s not clear whether the boots they tried were overly large to begin with. I mention this to make you aware that simply because one boot worked well for a child’s AFOs, this doesn’t mean that the same boot might work well for your child’s specific AFOs.

For example, if your child has been wearing AFOs for a while, you must have probably heard of the shoe brand Billy. While Billy boots have zippers that let you slip the brace in and just zip them up, in my experience, their boots do not work well with AFOs. Their sneakers on the other hand do seem to work really well with AFOs.

Is It a Requirement that Children Wear AFOs with Their Snow Boots?

This is a question that usually your medical professional would be able to answer, as there are several factors that determine whether AFOs must be worn with snow boots or not. Some of these factors are:

  • The degree of your child’s foot or leg condition
  • The number of hours a day your child plans to wear the snow boots
  • Whether you have very snowy/long winters with plenty of below freezing temperatures

Key Features to Consider Regarding Your Kids’ Snow Boots

1️⃣ Oversized Openings: Look for snow boots with wider opening features like double velcro straps or zippers which allows the boot to fold over completely. This makes it easier for parents and children to get the boots on and off.

2️⃣ Adjustability: Boots with adjustable closures like velcro closure with side zippers or laces are a must-have. They allow for a customized fit around the AFOs, ensuring comfort. 

3️⃣ Insulation and Waterproofing: Ensure the snow boots are well insulated to keep your child’s feet warm, and they should be waterproof to protect both the AFOs and your kids’ feet from moisture. 

4️⃣ Extra Depth: Snow boots with extra depth provide the necessary space for AFOs without causing discomfort.

Best Snow Boots for Kids Who Wear AFOs

Take a look at the description below each boot to find out whether it is fully waterproof, insulated, and also to find out what shoe size you should order to accommodate the AFOs. 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.

Do These Boots Work Well with SMOs As Well?

All of the boots recommended above are also capable of accommodating SMOs. Please note that while these boots have worked really well for several families of children who wear AFOs, there is no guarantee that they will work well for your child’s AFOs. All AFOs are a little different and some take a lot of extra space than others.

Don’t Hesitate to Contact Us for Customized Recommendations

If you have any questions or need any further assistance, you can also contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to help you find a different pair of boots for your child so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Whether you are looking for a more affordable type of winter boot in a specific size, we are happy to guide you in the right direction.

How to Figure Out What Boot Size to Order for Your Child’s AFOs/SMOs

Good news! I developed the most effective way to determine what shoe size your child should wear with his/her AFOs from your home, and will personally assist you with a custom fitting tailored to your child’s individual needs. I am offering this free service because I strongly believe that shoes that are too big defeat the whole purpose of wearing an AFO or SMO. 

If you are investing your time and money in a pair of AFOs, your child might as well get the full benefits that the AFOs have to offer. The best way to make sure that your child is getting the full benefits that the AFO has to offer is by making sure that your child wears the correct type of shoes in the correct size.

What Are the Best Socks for Kids Who Wear AFOs?

When it comes to AFO socks, you need to make sure that they are taller than the braces themselves. I wrote a different article that describes a selection of the best socks for AFOs that are seamless, soft, and tall enough to prevent the AFOs plastic and strapping from rubbing against your child’s skin.

Some families prefer that their children wear a pair of winter socks made out of wool. I am working on creating an article that describes the best wool socks for kids and I will add it here as soon as it’s ready.

Housekeeping of AFOs – Closing Remarks and Recommendations

➡️ On How to Fit AFOs

  • I suggest that your child wears knee-high cotton socks under the AFOs as this can reduce the constant rubbing. 
  • If your child has an AFO for each foot, make sure that you are putting them on the correct feet. 
  • Make sure to fasten the ankle strap firmly, then the calf strap. Also, ensure that all the straps are fastened securely. Thereafter, your child’s shoe can be worn over the orthoses.

➡️ On How to Remove AFOs

Don’t forget to check your child’s skin when you remove their AFO. I say this because AFOs can cause a slightly red line around the edge of the orthosis, but this should usually disappear within half an hour approximately. Note, if your child has any pain or skin marks that do not disappear within half an hour or they develop blisters, please contact your medical professional at the earliest to make sure they can promptly evaluate the situation and advise accordingly. 

➡️ On Care Instructions for AFOs

Bear in mind that the AFOs should be cleaned regularly by wiping them with a damp cloth and soapy water. Once the AFOs are clean, they should be completely dry before being reapplied. Please refrain from using direct sunlight or a hair dryer and tumble drier to dry your AFOs.

Do You Also Need a Pair of Everyday Sneakers for Your Child’s AFOs?

I have created several different resources for children who wear AFOs, and this one will show you a list of which sneakers work best with AFOs.

Understanding the Needs of Children with AFOs

AFOs are orthotic devices prescribed to support the feet and ankles of children with various medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or foot deformities. These orthotic devices are instrumental in aiding mobility and maintaining correct foot alignment. AFOs can make a tremendous difference in helping treat and improve your child’s foot conditions, but they also create several challenges. 

The most common challenge parents face is to find shoes, in this case snow boots, that can fit the braces perfectly. Just to be clear, if you don’t provide your child with the correct types of shoes, your child won’t get any of the benefits that the braces have to offer. The same applies if you provide your child with shoes that are too big.

In addition, I constantly get contacted by parents of children who wear braces and they explain to me how they are tired of wasting time and money on shoes that don’t work with the braces.