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The Best Shoes for Kids With Down Syndrome – Protect Their Feet!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on April 2022 and reflects an up-to-date selection of the best shoes for kids with Down Syndrome.

I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years now, and we specialize in children with foot and leg problems such as flat feet, low muscle tone, overpronation, knocked knees, just to name a few.


I have noticed through the years that children with Down syndrome tend to have flatter, wider, and more pronated feet that usually require a specific type of shoe.

The main issue with your child being flat-footed is that their arches can’t act as shock absorbers every time your kids’ feet impact the ground. Did you know that the arches of your kids’ feet efficiently support the weight of your child’s body while allowing flexibility for movement and balance? If your child is flat-footed, it is important to provide your child with good, supportive shoes that provide good arch support.

Let’s take a look at a couple of images of flat-footed children:

I know that it can be a challenge for parents to find shoes that are wide enough for their kids’ feet and that at the same time provide the correct amount of support, while still being “socially acceptable.” I have fitted hundreds of shoes for children with Down syndrome and I know which shoe styles come in wide and extra wide widths while providing good support for their feet. These are regular everyday sneakers, not orthopedic shoes.

Some parents don’t understand the importance and the positive impact that shoes can have on their children’s lives. Please remember this: “Any structure built on a weak foundation will collapse”. Our feet are the foundation for our entire body, and we must take good care of them!

Did you know that children with Down syndrome tend to have stability issues? Wearing the wrong shoe size or the wrong type of shoes will only end up compromising their stability even more and creating all sorts of foot problems. Providing your child with Down syndrome with the correct type of shoes is extremely important since they may not be able to express any discomfort even when they are wearing the wrong shoe size.

When a child is pronating excessively and we don’t do anything to correct it, we are compromising their muscle function since the body has no foundation to walk on. Let me show you the best type of shoes that come in wide and extra wide widths that also provide the best type of support for a child who has Down syndrome.

I will first provide you with a selection of the best shoes for children with Down syndrome that are learning how to walk, and I will provide you with a selection of shoes for older children as well.


First Walking Shoes for Kids with Down Syndrome – Get It Right!

Most children with Down syndrome learn how to walk at an average of 24 months, but some of them might take as long as 42 months. The main reason for this delay is their low muscle tone.

Did you know that shoes play a huge role in foot development? The right type of shoe helps improve your children’s stability, provide them with the everyday support that they need to perform their daily activities, and keeps their feet and legs healthy. Never underestimate the importance of shoes!

I have helped several families who are extremely grateful and shocked about the positive impact that the right type of shoes had on their kids’ lives. I remember one family in particular who came to the shoe store after being referred by their occupational therapist. Their child kept falling and had the hardest time walking.

At first, the parents thought that with time the child’s stability was going to improve and he would stop falling.  However, the condition only got worse. The mom was worried that the child was going to hit his head one day and become seriously injured.

Turns out that the child was wearing shoes that were way too long for his feet. The mother told me that she had to get them long for the foot to fit inside the kids’ shoe —since the child had extra wide feet with a high instep— The child had really wide feet, and because the mother didn’t know that deep shoes in extra wide widths existed, she always ended up buying longer shoes.


Think about it: If you wear shoes that are too long for your feet, wouldn’t you keep falling too? I was really upset with the parents, but it was hard to be mad at them when they already felt really badly about the whole situation. I told them I wanted to fit the child in a pair of shoes with shoelaces, because they provide better support and stability than velcro sneakers.

I found a pair of shoes that fit the child’s feet perfectly —the shoe came in extra wide and provided great stability— and when I asked the child to test them out… magic happened! The child was walking and running around the store without a problem! The mother was so happy that she started crying.

The type of shoes I tried is recommended by most physical and occupational therapists for a child who is flat-footed and has low muscle tone. This shoe is your classical high top that comes either in brown or white and comes with shoelaces. I know how parents are always trying to stay away from shoes that come with shoelaces, since it is a hassle to have to constantly tie your kids’ shoes. However, a shoe with shoelaces will provide your child with more support and more stability.

Below is one of the most popular shoes for toddlers with Down syndrome that is available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW) widths.

Shoes for Children with Flat Feet! – Get the Most Supportive Styles!

Below you can find some of the most common foot and gait features of children with Down syndrome:

  • Smaller toes and feet.
  • Flat feet.
  • Toe-walking.
  • Low muscle tone.
  • Decreased ankle range of motion.
  • Excessive external hip rotation.
  • Stability issues.

If you have noticed that your children have any of the foot conditions described above, a pair of supportive shoes will reduce or eliminate any sort of foot or leg pain that they might be experiencing.

Have you noticed how there is always space below the arch of the foot? This space is what allows for the passage of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that act as springs providing shock absorption every time our feet impact the ground. When a child is flat-footed, the feet can’t act as shock absorbers and that is why we need shoes with good structure and support for their feet!

Take a look at the picture of a flat-footed child, does it look familiar?

I have fitted hundreds of children with Down syndrome in the correct type of shoes, and it’s not an easy thing to do since in most cases you won’t get any feedback from the child. Because I have been doing this for so long, I know exactly how shoes should fit and what type of shoes are best for each particular type of foot. At the children’s shoe store that I work for, I handle approximately 100 hundred fittings/try ons per week.

A shoe with good arch and ankle support will help your child walk and run straighter. Something so simple such as providing your children with the correct pair of shoes can have a tremendous impact in improving their overall posture and helping them walk and run straighter.

Let me prove it to you!

Let’s take a look at a picture of a flat-footed child wearing a pair of unsupportive sneakers. Do you notice how the feet are collapsing and turning inwards?

Now let’s take a look at the same flat-footed child wearing a pair of supportive sneakers. Do you notice how much straighter the feet are?

I know which shoes are more supportive than others, and before trying an orthotic, I always start by fitting children in good supportive shoes and observing how they react to them. If the child is still pronating after wearing a pair of supportive shoes, that means that it might be the right time to try a pair of orthotics. However, always start by trying a pair of supportive shoes first.

I always recommend that parents take their kids to a local kids’ shoe store that they trust to have their feet properly measured and their shoes properly fitted. However, several parents have contacted me asking where they can get their kids’ shoes online since they don’t have a local shoe store in their area that they trust. 

There are definitely several online stores that offer shoes in wide and extra wide widths, but before you start guessing on the shoe size that your child needs, start by reading an article I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to make sure that your child is wearing the correct shoe size: 

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.


The Best Shoes for Kids with Down Syndrome ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Below you can find a selection of shoes that provide the best support and stability for your kids’ feet. These shoes are also available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW).

Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

In each of the descriptions of the shoes I indicate whether you need to order a half a size or a whole size bigger than your child’s foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

Orthotics for Kids with DS – When the Shoes Are Not the Solution!

Physical and occupational therapists will tell you that the earlier you start managing your children’s gait problems, the better. Early intervention will prevent gait problems later down the road, and it will end up saving you a lot of money!

There is a lot of controversy when it comes to how early a child should start wearing orthotics. Many pediatricians and ortho­pedic surgeons don’t recommend orthotics for children that are younger than 5 years old, stating how children experience significant developmental changes during their first five years.

However, many orthotists and physical therapists, actually believe that it’s important to intervene much earlier. They recommend intervening as soon as the child is 18 months to 2 years of age. However, some recommend orthotic intervention as early as when a child begins to walk. I also agree with the latter recommendation, since I have fitted orthotics for younger kids and seen the positive impact in the way the child walks and his/her overall posture.

At the children’s shoe store that I work for, we sell shoes and we are qualified to fit orthotics as well. Every time we need to fit an orthotic inside a shoe, we need the shoes to be wider and deeper to accommodate the orthotic (since it takes a lot of space inside the shoe). That’s the reason why we carry every single shoe style that is available in wide and extra wide widths.

The right type of orthotics will play a key role in reducing, or fully eliminating the foot and leg pain that your child might be experiencing. At the kids’ shoe store that I work for, we carry all sort of orthotics for kids’ and each style serves a different purpose. It is important to take your child to be properly fitted for orthotics, since this requires an experienced person to help you find particular shoe style.

There is one particular orthotic I recommend that has proven to be extremely efficient in preventing children’s feet from collapsing and turning inwards.

Let me prove it to you!

Below is a picture of a flat-footed child standing up, do you notice how the feet are collapsing and turning inwards?

Now take a look at a picture of the same child standing up in a pair of supportive orthotics. Do you see how much straighter the feet are?


Below you can find the best orthotics for kids that I have fitted before in terms of support and stability:

This orthotic has been specifically designed by podiatrists for pain relieving arch and ankle support. Below you can find the best orthotic for kids with flat feet and overpronation.

The Best Socks for Kids with Down Syndrome

Did you know that socks play a huge role in keeping your kids’ feet healthy? Some children with sensory issues can’t stand how socks feel and are always taking them off and wearing their shoes without them.

Socks act as a barrier between your kids’ feet and the shoes, preventing the formation and buildup of bacteria inside the shoes. However, I do understand that kids with sensory issues feel every bump and lump and they can’t stand wearing socks with their shoes.

The material that the socks are made of is also important since certain socks retain the moisture from your kids’ feet and some of them repel it! Have you always thought that cotton was the best type of material when it came to socks? I used to believe this, but actually, it’s not! Cotton tends to retain moisture instead of repelling it.

We started carrying seamless socks at the shoe store and some children even call them “magical socks”. I wrote a post where I describe the best seamless socks for children and you can find it here:

Seamless Socks for Kids – Stop the Struggle of Putting Socks On!

Do Children Outgrow their Flat Feet? – They Don’t Always Do!

I have heard several parents say how they don’t want their kids to become dependent on good, supportive shoes or orthotics, and that they prefer to have their children walk barefoot to strengthen their ankles. Trust me when I tell you that it is a MYTH that orthotics and good supportive shoes interfere with strength development!

I have seen the positive impact that supportive shoes and orthotics can have on children, and in certain cases, they can create a life changing experience.

Several parents have asked me if their children will ever outgrow their flat feet. This is hard to predict, and in most cases, but in most cases, children will remain flat-footed for the rest of their lives. The key is to minimize or eliminate any sort of foot or leg pain that they might be experiencing and allow them to perform their everyday activities without pain.

Wearing the correct type of shoes and orthotics will help improve your kids’ overall posture and minimize or fully eliminate their foot and leg pain.


Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is:


Have you found a particular shoe style for your child with Down syndrome that has worked well for his or her feet? Does your child hate wearing socks and is always pulling them off? Please share your thoughts and experiences 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 kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

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18 Comments on The Best Shoes for Kids With Down Syndrome – Protect Their Feet!

  1. Awesome post! I have met several parents with kids with down syndrome and they always tell me how hard is for them to keep the shoes on and how they are always taking them off! I also like how the socks can help the shoes feel better! This is awesome, thank you for thinking about those kids with down syndrome!

  2. Getting the right shoe fit for any child is always a challenge, but it is even harder when you can’t get an input from your child, it’s just makes the process so much more complicated. I’m thankful for people like you providing valuable information for parents and caregivers. The shoes you present look great and at the same time will fit even the widest feet!

    • Hello Theresa,

      Hopefully other parents will find this information valuable as well! I know how hard it is to find the correct pair of shoes for children, so my goal is to make the process simpler for parents. Wide and extra wide shoes are also not easy to find, but I describe where you can find them!

  3. Hello,

    Thank you for thinking about those children with Down syndrome. I know most parents are not aware of what type of shoes a child with Down syndrome needs, and it’s important to understand the importance of providing the child with the correct shoe style and the correct shoe style. I hope they will read this article. I know kids with Down syndrome need wider shoes and also need as much stability as possible, Thank you so much Juan Pablo keep up the good work!

    • Hello Bob,

      The correct type of shoes will not only keep your child’s feet comfortable, but it will also help improve his or her stability! Shoe laces always provide more stability than velcro sneakers, so you should strongly consider providing your child with a pair of shoe laces. You will see what a difference it will make!

  4. I just love this article because I didn’t know that most children that have down syndrome have wide feet. My husband has feet issues and finding that right shoe is so important but at the same time hard because he has wide feet and it’s always hard to find shoes that are wide enough.

    Why is it so hard to find shoes for extra wide feet?

    • Angel,

      It’s not hard to find shoes for extra wide feet. I have been fitting children shoes for 7 years and some of these children look like they have frying pans on their feet. I know which shoe styles come in extra wide and certain shoe brands like New Balance tend to make the widest shoes. You should read an article I wrote about shoes that come in extra wide widths:

      Children Extra Wide Shoes – Prevent Blisters, Calluses, and Corns!

  5. My mom works with a child that has down syndrome and I think she’ll love this information. She always tells me how the child is pulling his shoes off all the time, I think it might be due to the shoes feeling too tight! This is a great piece of information and I wish more parents could know about this.

    • Mohamed,

      If the child keeps trying to take his shoes off he is trying to tell us something is not right. Your mom should make sure that the shoes the child is wearing are the correct shoe size, and definitely play close attention to see if they are wide enough.

      I provide in the post a selection of shoes that come in wide and extra wide widths! However, I will recommend taking the child to your closest kids shoe fitting store to make sure he gets the correct shoe size!

  6. I am almost in tears. Thank you so much for this page. The picture is exactly what I see when I look at my girls feet and ankles.. But it is mild so she never got an official diagnosis.. I cannot wait to take her to a new balance store and see if this will help and buy her some new socks too.. I am super hopeful, because she loves going on adventures and experiencing stuff really helps her learn, but walking longer distances seems to really bother her.. Oh if this helps her it will be nothing short of a miracle for us. THANK YOU.

    • Hello Ms. Smith,

      Shoes and socks play a key role in keeping our feet and legs healthy and allowing us to participate in different types of activities. Please make sure you ask them to show you either of these styles:

      Supportive Shoe for Mild Pronation: Option 1

      Supportive Shoe for Mild Pronation: Option 2

      If you are willing to tie her shoes, providing your daughter with a pair of shoes that comes with shoelaces will provide her with more support and more stability.

      I hope this helps and please keep me posted on how everything works out.

  7. Hello my name is Francine and I love the post I am doing my TCC, final project of course on footwear with down syndrome, I am product design and would like some feed backs and more information and reports of parents who have children with syndrome of downs who want to help me I will leave my email franp.santos25va@gmail.com

    thank you

  8. My son is 22. Have found a few pairs of new balance; size 5 1/2 extra wide but very limited in style. Had a dress shoe “smartfit” wide but seemed wide enough since they had no extra wide. Now outgrown and cannot find dress shoes! Ordered hush puppies size 6 wide width. He says they are too tight. Any suggestions?

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