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Top 4 Shoe Brands for Kids Who Wear AFOs – Best Shoes to Wear with AFO Leg Braces!

best-shoe-brands-for-kids-with-AFOs

The most common mistake that I see parents make when buying shoes for their kids who wear AFOs is to simply increase the shoes they normally buy by two or more sizes. Parents keep trying longer shoes until they find one that fits the AFO and they call that a success. There are 4 shoe brands that manufacture shoes that are ideal for children who wear AFOs, and I will show you these top 4 shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs shortly.

AFOs stand for ankle foot orthotics, but most parents refer to them as leg braces. Below is an image of how an AFO looks like:

afo-braces-for-kids

Simply because you find a shoe that fits over the AFO it doesn’t mean that they are the best option for your child’s feet. I also want to point out that allowing your child to walk around in shoes that are too big will compromise your child’s stability and make your child more prone to falling. One of the main purposes of wearing an AFO is to provide stability, but if your child wears shoes that are too big you will be defeating the whole purpose of wearing the AFO.

Think about it. Your child will have a hard time maneuvering with the AFO, especially if your child is wearing them for the first time, so don’t make this learning process even harder by fitting your child in a pair of shoes that are too big.

It is a fact that you might have to go a half a size to a whole size longer than the shoe size that your child usually wears. It’s okay to stay within this size range, but don’t go any bigger than that. To accomplish this, we must look for shoes that are deeper and wider.

The most important feature that your kids’ shoes must provide is extra depth. The ideal shoes for AFOs provide these 3 important features:

  • Extra Depth
  • Round Toe-Boxes
  • Substantial Outsole

I have been fitting children’s shoes and orthotics for the last 10 years. The shoe store that I work for specializes in helping children with “complicated” foot shapes and foot conditions. Over the years I became familiar with the best shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs, so I made a list of the top 3 shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs.

about-me

I handle approximately 100 shoe fittings per week, and I noticed throughout the years how some families walk to the store with the children wearing the wrong shoes. Most of the time the shoes are too short, too narrow, or simply don’t provide the correct amount of support. I mention this because there seems to be a common misconception about certain shoe brands.

For example, some children walk to the store wearing shoes made by Converse, Vans, and Nike. I understand these are a trendy option especially for teenagers. I surely want your child to be able to express himself or herself in a fashionable way as well, but I strongly encourage parents to limit the amount of time their children wear these shoes.

Can shoes made by Converse, Vans, and Nike fit over your child’s AFO? Sure.

Are they the best option for your child’s feet? Definitely not.

The shoes made from those 3 shoe brands don’t provide the correct amount of support and they should definitely not be your child’s main piece of footwear. With that said, your child can wear shoes from those 3 companies as long they fit properly and you limit the wear to no more than 4 hours a day.

Parents who shop online have the same questions as those parents who shop in the store:

  • Where can I buy shoes for my child’s AFOs?
  • What’s the best shoe brand for kids with AFOs?
  • Are shoes with shoelaces better than shoes with velcro?

You will find out the answer to these 3 questions shortly. Let’s now take a look at the best shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs.

Keep in mind that there is no universal shoe brand that can accommodate all of your child’s foot needs. For example, one shoe brand might be the best one when it comes to everyday sneakers, but that particular shoe brand might not be the best one when it comes to dress shoes or seasonal shoes.

In addition, there always are specific shoes among each brand that work better than others, so I will also provide you with specific shoe recommendations within each brand.

Number 1: New Balance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sneakers

New Balance is my go-to shoe brand for everyday sneakers. Every time a family walks to the store with a pair of AFOs I end up fitting them in a pair of New Balance sneakers.

I found that New Balance manufactures the most supportive and deeper sneakers for kids who wear AFOs. Most of their styles are available in wide (W) and extra wide (XW) widths.

What Makes New Balance Shoes Effective for Kids Who Wear AFOs?

✅ Extra Depth: The New Balance sneakers I recommend provide extra depth, which is the most important feature for children who wear AFOs. The shoes allow the AFO to fit deeply inside the shoes and prevents parents from having to buy bigger shoes.

shoes-for-kids-with-high-instep

✅ Round Toe-Box: The shoes come with a round toe-box instead of a pointier one, which helps accommodate the AFO and prevent it from poking a hole in the front part of the shoe.

shoes-with-round-toe-boxes

✅ Support: The shoes come with a substantial outsole that helps support your child’s feet and the AFOs.

supportive-kids'-shoes

Keep in mind that sneakers that are specifically made to accommodate AFOs —they are often referred to as orthopedic shoes— can range anywhere from $80 to over $100. Most of the New Balance sneakers I recommend range between the $60 price range. I have put together a selection of the best New Balance sneakers for kids who wear AFOs which are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW). 

All of these shoes come with removable insoles. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

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To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these shoes half a size larger than their child’s current foot size. This translates to 0.3 inches or 0.7 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes. However, because AFO braces take extra space inside the shoe, you should consider getting the shoes a whole size larger (0.6 inches or 1 centimeter).

All of these everyday sneakers come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure as shoelaces help provide better support and stability. In fact, there is a specific shoe lacing technique that my coworker who has 30 plus years of shoe fitting experience taught me and works wonder for children who wear AFOs:

How to Tie Shoes with Orthotics – Stop Heel Slippage

That specific shoe lacing technique is going to secure your child’s feet against the back of the shoes and help keep the AFO in place.

Number 2: Billy Footwear ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stylish/Casual Shoes

This shoe brand incorporates zippers that go along the side of the shoes and around the toe, allowing the upper of each shoe to open and fold over completely. This makes it easier and convenient for your child to place his or her foot onto the shoe footbed unobstructed.

The main reason why I recommend this shoe company is because it does a great job offering attractive and stylish shoes that children can put on independently.

What Makes Billy Footwear Shoes Effective for Kids Who Wear AFOs?

As I mentioned before, the shoes come with zippers that go along the side of the shoes and around the toe, allowing the upper of each shoe to open and fold over completely:

stylish-sneakers-for-AFOs
stylish-sneakers-for-AFOs

These shoes are perfect for children who want to wear shoes that are stylish. I want to mention that even though I love the whole concept that Billy footwear has to offer, I don’t recommend that your child wear these shoes as his or her everyday day sneakers. These shoes can be worn for a maximum of 4 hours a day, and then I recommend switching your child to a more supportive pair of sneakers.

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To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these shoes half a size larger than their child’s current foot size. This translates to 0.3 inches or 0.7 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes. Keep in mind that these shoes are available in whole sizes only.

Number 3: Gracious May ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dress Shoes

Gracious May is my go-to shoe brand for children who need a pair of dress shoes that fit over their AFOs.

I have spoken with several parents who feel heartbroken as they notice the disappointment on their kids’ faces when not a single pair of cute dress shoes can fit over their AFOs.

What Makes Gracious May Shoes Effective for Kids Who Wear AFOs?

All of their shoes are manufactured in the USA and the shoes are fully customized to fit your child’s measurements, meaning that they are able to accommodate nearly any orthosis out there: AFO, KAFO, DAFO, SMO braces and more!

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Number 4: Memo ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sandals and Boots

Memo is my go-to shoe brand for children who need seasonal shoes that are capable of accommodating an AFO. Most Memo boots and sandals come with a 3 velcro strap to keep the AFO in place and provide your child with excellent support and stability.

What Makes Memo Shoes Effective for Kids Who Wear AFOs?

All Memo sandals are lightweight and comfortable, and they provide a mid-sole with a Thomas heel. The shoes below provide extra depth which makes them ideal if you need to fit an AFO inside these shoes.

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Final Thoughts on Kids Who Wear AFOs!

I always encourage parents to ask their orthotist or physical therapist if they have concerns about the shoe style and size you picked.

Every child is unique and they all want to express themselves and feel confident. I want children to be able to express themselves through footwear choice and wear the shoes that they love. However, functional should always remain our top priority!

If there is a specific shoe style that your child has been asking for and you are unsure whether it’s appropriate to wear or not let me know and I will be happy to provide you with feedback: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com 

I also wanted to mention that I have been helping parents figure out their child’s foot size from home since most shoe stores are closed now. If you are unsure about your child’s foot size take a look at the article below:

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

What Socks Should Children Wear with Their AFOs?

It’s important to provide your child with socks that are thick, soft, seamless, and tall enough to prevent the AFOs plastic and strapping to rub against your child’s skin.

The main goal of the socks is to act as a protective barrier between your child’s feet and the AFOs. Your child’s socks should maximize skin health and provide all-day comfort.

Some children experience significant perspiration in their AFOs, and if this occurs with your child, I suggest that you try changing socks once or twice a day. However, there are certain socks that provide excellent breathability, and they are made with anti-microbial technology. There is a different article I wrote that you might find helpful as it describes the best socks for kids who wear AFOs:

There is a different article I wrote that you might find helpful as it describes the best socks for kids who wear AFOs:

The Best Socks for AFOS – Seamless, Breathable, and Durable!

How to Correctly Put on Your Child’s AFO 

  • Unfasten all straps of your child’s AFO.
  • Make your child is seated, with their hip and knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Pull up your child’s socks and make sure there are no creases in them.
  • Place your child’s heel at the back of the AFO, and then fasten the ankle strap. Make sure that it is firm enough to secure the foot, but not too tight.
  • Fasten the top strap. Again, this should be snug but not too tight.
  • Undo your child’s shoelaces, open up the shoe widely and put on the shoe.

STOP BUYING THE WRONG PAIR OF SHOES FOR YOUR CHILDREN.LETS START TAKING CARE OF THEIR FEET!

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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