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 fleet, low muscle tone, overpronation and 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.
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.
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 every day 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 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 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 also 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 will improve your children’s stability, provide them with the every day support that they need to perform their daily activities, and keep 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 down 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 in order 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 were wearing shoes that were 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 shoe laces, because they provide more 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. It was really emotional seeing what a difference the shoes made!
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 shoe laces, since it is a hassle to have to constantly tie your kids’ shoes. However, a shoe with shoe laces will provide your child with more support and more stability.
Here is how the shoe looks like:Please remember this: NEVER underestimate the importance of well-fitting shoes! Something so simple such as providing your child with the correct shoe size can have a huge positive impact on your child’s overall postures and the way he/she walks.
The Best Shoes for Kids with DS that are Learning how to Walk – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Below you can find the best shoes for kids with Down syndrome that are learning how to walk:
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.
- 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 behind the arch of the foot? This space is what allows for the passage of muscles, tendons, and ligaments thatact as springs providing shock absorption every time our feet impact the ground. When a child is flat footed, the feet cant 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 200 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 this 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 feel are collapsing and turning inwards?
Now let’s take a look of the same flat footed child wearing a pair of supportive sneakers. Do you notice how much more 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 in order 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:
The Best Shoes for Older 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, wide, and extra wide widths (choose the width accordingly).
This selection of shoes fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the standard foot measuring scale (Brannock device) in order to allow for 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 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 this to you…
Here 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?
Here you can find the best orthotics for kids that I have fitted before in terms of support and stability:
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 the magical socks!
I wrote a post where I describe the best seamless socks for children and you can find it here:
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 something that is hard to predict, and in most cases, but in most cases children will remain flat footed for the rest of their lives. They key is to minimize or eliminate any sort of foot or leg pain that they might be experiencing and allow them to perform their every day activities without pain.
Wearing the correct type of shoes and orthotics will improve your kids’ overall posture and minimize or fully eliminate their foot and leg pain!
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!