Stylish Shoes for AFO Braces – Mary Jane’s Shoes, Boots, Dress Shoes, and Casual Sneakers!
Have you been looking for functional, comfortable, and yet fashionable shoes for your child to wear with an ankle-foot orthoses (AFO)? While shopping, are you constantly challenged to fit your children’s AFOs over stylish shoes? There is a small selection of stylish shoes for AFO braces, but the good news is that I will help you find them.
Finding stylish shoes that accommodate all the extra space that an AFO takes can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience, especially if you don’t know what shoe styles to look for.
There is a small selection of functional shoes that will work with your kids’ AFOs, but the selection gets even smaller when it comes to finding a pair of stylish shoes. What I mean by stylish is a pair of Mary Jane shoes, moccasin boots, dress shoes, and leather sneakers.
An AFO is a brace that is usually made of plastic, worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle. An AFO will help correct your child’s overall posture or other biomechanical problems with the foot by holding the foot and ankle in the correct position. Below you can find an image of an AFO:
Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time and want to jump directly to a selection of stylish shoes for AFO braces, you can click here.
The Challenges of Finding Stylish Shoes for AFOs
Most off-the-shelf shoes are not created for children who need to wear AFOs. Parents feel heartbroken when they see the disappointment on their kids’ faces when not a single pair of the fashionable and cute shoes that they want to wear can accommodate the shape of the AFOs.
Usually, children who wear AFOs end up wearing basic sneakers with not much excitement, since parents are not able to find anything on trend or that are is for children. This is life and most agree that there could be worse problems. However, this doesn’t need to be the case anymore.
Children who need specialty shoes also want to be as fashionable as their peers. The shoes that fit your kids’ AFOs don’t have to be unattractive or clunky. There is a particular shoe company that offers contemporary fashion and stylish shoes as well as well-engineered designs.
The good news is that two shoe brands manufacture fashion shoes that are specifically designed to work with your kids’ AFOs, and I will put together a selection of their best styles shortly.
My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes and AFOs – Over a Decade of Experience
Since I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last 10 years at a premier children’s shoe store specializing in children with foot and leg problems, also providing regular shoe fittings, I will be able to help you in this shoe quest.
We carry some of the most supportive children’s shoes and orthotics. I will share with you my perspective on the best shoe brands that manufacture stylish shoes that can accommodate AFOs.
I have noticed that many parents who are new to AFOs wear have the same questions and concerns. Moreover, they have the same worries and frustrations, but I will share with you what I have learned over all my years of professional shoe fitting.
I get contacted by parents on a daily basis who are frustrated about not being able to find an alternative other than their kid’s everyday sneakers for their kids to wear with their AFOs. As you know parents always have their child’s best interest at heart and also want their children to be happy and have fun.
Several parents have explained to me how for little girls, cute boots and shoes are such a big thing and how they never thought that shoe shopping would be such an emotionally charged (and usually tear-driven) event.
After writing an article about the best sneakers for kids with AFOs, parents started asking me if there were stylish shoes for AFO braces.
One of my go-to shoe brands for children who wear AFOs is called Memo shoes. Stride Rite also has some stylish shoes that are adaptable and work well with AFOs.
Memo is the highest quality European children’s footwear in classic style, made of natural materials soft grain and nubuck leather and ideally adapts to the child’s foot, without causing discomfort and skin irritation.
Memo now offers stylish sneakers and Mary Jane shoes that are perfect to be worn as a fashionable completion of your child’s outfit. The shoes provide prophylactic features and the styles I recommend provide a Thomas Heel, along with an outsole that provides proper foot position for the child’s foot.
These shoes come equipped with a thermoplastic rigid heel counter with excellent ankle support that is enough for children with Gross Motor Function Classification System of level 1 and 2. If you feel like your child can benefit from wearing an AFO inside these shoes then you can definitely fit the AFO inside them.
Stride Rite and Billy Shoes
Stride Rite and Billy also have stylish shoes that are capable of accommodating AFO braces.
Below you can find a list of the best stylish shoes for AFO braces. These shoes are absolutely unique on the market. 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. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.
The Best Stylish Shoes for AFO Braces
What Shoe Size Should You Order?
In each of the descriptions of the shoes, I indicate whether you need to order a shoe size that is half a size or a whole size bigger than your child’s AFO footplate to accommodate the shoes and AFOs.
It can be extremely time-consuming to find shoes that accommodate AFOs. Memo shoes and Stride Rite made it easy for parents to find shoes that can easily accommodate their children’s AFOs.
The myth that cute shoes for a child who wears AFOs are hard to come by has been dispelled!
Please note that fashionable shoes are not meant to be worn as everyday shoes. Your children should wear everyday supportive shoes with their AFOs for most of the day and wear their fashionable shoes for no more than 4 to 5 hours a day.
Get in Touch With Us for a Personalized Suggestion
Without a doubt, children’s shoe needs can vary depending on their age, activity level, and any specific foot conditions they may have. If you have any questions or need any further assistance, you can also contact us via e-mail and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to help you find a different pair of stylish shoes or sneakers for your child’s AFOs so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Additional Resources for Children Who Wear AFOs
If you need a different type of shoe that your child can wear with his or her AFOs I suggest that you take a look at the articles below:
Why Is It So Hard to Find Stylish Shoes for AFOs?
To accommodate an AFO, your kids’ shoes require a wider opening to easily slide the foot in with the AFO on. Also, the shoe should have extra depth to accommodate the additional room taken up by the AFO.
One of the most common mistakes parents make is to buy their children longer shoes to accommodate the AFOs. This usually leads to compromising their child’s stability, making them more prone to falling and hurting themselves, and defeating the whole purpose of wearing an AFO. Another common mistake parents make is to assume that a shoe that is labeled as “extra wide” will automatically fit the AFO.
There are 3 key features that your kids’ shoes must provide to accommodate your child’s AFO.
1️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature allows the AFO to fit deeply inside the shoes and prevent the top part of your kids’ feet from rubbing against the top part of the shoes. She’s that provide extra depth will also prevent giving your children the impression that their feet are coming out of the shoes as they walk.
2️⃣ Round Toe-Box: This feature prevents the AFO from poking a hole in the front of the shoes.
3️⃣ Wider Opening: This feature prevents you from shoving your child’s foot in the shoes every time you have to put your kids’ shoes on.
If you don’t provide your child with shoes that provide these three important features, it will only be weeks or a month before the child wears holes in the shoe.
Most parents who have children who need to wear AFOs can agree that shopping for their kids’ shoes has never been easy, and most of them dread going into the stores to find shoes. I have heard many stories of how parents would travel from store to store, maneuvering their physically challenged child, looking for a pair of shoes that would fit the braces.
The Best Socks to Wear with AFO Braces
Socks also play a key role in keeping your child’s feet healthy. While some kids may be able to wear any type of socks underneath their AFOs, others may find short socks with seams to be uncomfortable. The seams may rub and cause irritation, while short socks may allow plastic and strapping to rub against bare skin.
It’s important for the socks to be soft and cover the length of the brace to provide protection, comfort, and accommodate your child’s AFO toe straps.
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.
This type of sock is made with super soft materials and a design that includes a non-binding Halo Top, which eliminates irritating indentions, as well as reduces slippage on the legs. I have put together a selection of the best socks to wear with AFO braces:
These socks are thick enough to prevent your children from getting blisters or red spots from their AFOs. They work much better than traditional socks.
If worn in the correct type of shoes, AFOs can greatly enhance your children’s function, by helping them stand or walk, and may also help prevent foot and ankle deformities.
Children who wear AFO braces shouldn’t feel excluded because they are limited to a single type of athletic shoe. It is important for children with disabilities to be able to wear shoes that they like and allow them to simply be kids.
Have you tried any of the stylish shoes that I recommend? Is there another shoe brand that has worked well in accommodating your child’s AFOs? Please share your experiences below so other parents can benefit from your experiences.