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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

Has your child been diagnosed with a condition that requires him or her to wear a pair of AFOs? Are you having the hardest time finding a pair of shoes to accommodate your child’s AFOs?

It is not vital to buy expensive orthopedic shoes to accommodate your child’s ankle braces. There are regular shoes that will work well with your child’s AFOs and SMOs and I will help you find them.

I have been working at a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years, where we focus on helping children with “complicated” foot shapes, foot conditions, and leg conditions. As a shoe fitter, I handle approximately 100 shoe fittings/try-ons per week and have become very familiar with which shoes work best for each child.

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Over the years I became familiar with the best shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs, so I made a list of the top 5 shoe brands for kids who wear AFOs.

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 large might 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 large you will be defeating the whole purpose of wearing the AFO.

The most important pair of footwear for a child who wears AFOs or SMOs is everyday sneakers. Children should wear sneakers most often with their ankle braces in order for them to be most effective and comfortable.

Common Mistakes Parents Make when Buying Shoes for AFOs

The most common mistake I see parents make is buying larger shoes to accommodate for their child’s AFO.

I have noticed how most families simply increase the shoe size by two full shoe sizes or more, which can defeat the whole purpose of investing your time and money on an AFO. Parents keep trying longer shoes until they find one that fits the AFO and they call that a success.

Some families tell me how they only went a whole size up for their child’s foot size when in fact they bought the shoes two full sizes bigger. The problem is that most families don’t know their child’s actual foot size to begin with.

One of the most common reasons why children need to wear AFOs is to improve their stability. However, if you provide your child with shoes that are way too large, you’re stealing that stability right back.

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 large.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Ideal for AFOs?

✅ Extra Depth: This feature allows the child’s AFO to fit deeply inside the shoes. The deeper the AFO sits inside the shoes, the more comfortable your child will feel. This feature can drastically increase your child’s comfort and prevent your child from getting the impression that his/her feet are coming out of the shoes.

✅ Round Toe-Boxes: This feature helps prevent the front part of the AFO from destroying the front part of the shoes.

✅ Substantial Outsole: The shoes must provide a substantial outsole to hold the AFO in place and support your child’s feet at the same time.

✅ Flexible and Lightweight: The shoes must be supportive, but lightweight and flexible at the same time to prevent your child’s feet and legs from easily getting tired.

✅ Firm Heel Counter: This feature provides additional heel and ankle support as well as heel stabilization.

✅ Wider Opening for Easy On & Off: This feature allows parents to easily slide the AFO inside the shoes so they don’t have to struggle every time they have to put on the AFOs.

✅ Removable Insoles: By removing the original insoles of the shoes you will allow for extra room for the AFOs.

Top 4 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.

It’s also important to note that just because I recommend a specific shoe brand that doesn’t mean that all shoes from that specific brand will work for your child’s AFOs. Let’s use New Balance as an example.The New Balance kids’ shoe line is quite extensive, and models differ greatly in terms of fit and support. Not all New Balance shoes in extra wide widths are capable of accommodating AFOs and some styles provide better support and stability than others.

Number 1: New Balance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

New Balance is my go-to shoe brand for everyday sneakers. The specific New Balance shoe styles I recommend below provide all of the features I mentioned before.

The New Balance shoes below are the ones that work best for AFOs. They are available in wide (W) and extra wide (XW) widths and all have removable insoles.

Medium - Wide - Extra WideMedium – Wide – Extra WideCheck PriceMedium - Wide - Extra WideMedium – Wide – Extra WideCheck PriceMedium - Wide -Extra WideMedium – Wide -Extra WideCheck PriceMedium - Wide -Extra WideMedium – Wide -Extra WideCheck PriceMedium - Wide -Extra WideMedium – Wide -Extra WideCheck PriceMedium - Wide -Extra WideMedium – Wide -Extra WideCheck Price

To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these sneakers a whole size (0.6 inches or 1 centimeter) larger than their child’s AFO footplate.

Number 2: Tsukihoshi ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tsukihoshi shoes don’t come labeled as wide (W) or extra wide (XW) but they are some of the deepest shoes I have fitted before. The thing I love the most about this shoe brand is how it provides shoes that are supportive but lightweight and flexible at the same time.

The Tsukihoshi shoes below are the ones that work best with AFOs. These shoes provide extra padding around the heel area and all come with removable insoles.

Toddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceToddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceToddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceToddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceToddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceToddler/Little Kid Sizes - VelcroToddler/Little Kid Sizes – VelcroCheck Price

To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these sneakers a whole size (0.6 inches or 1 centimeter) larger than their child’s AFO footplate.

Number 3: Stride Rite ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stride Rite came up with a new line called Journey, which offers shoes that are fully adaptable and designed to accommodate orthotics and braces.

Toddler Sizes - VelcroToddler Sizes – VelcroCheck PriceLittle/Big Kid Sizes - ShoelacesLittle/Big Kid Sizes – ShoelacesCheck PriceLittle/Big Kid Sizes - ShoelacesLittle/Big Kid Sizes – ShoelacesCheck Price

To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these sneakers a whole size (0.6 inches or 1 centimeter) larger than their child’s AFO footplate.

Number 4: Billy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Billy shoes is how they come with a zipper that goes along the outside and around the toe, allow the shoe to open up widely. This makes it really convenient for children to independently get the shoes on and off. However, it’s important to note that Billy shoes were not built specifically for AFO use, they were built to provide an alternative way to access entry into shoes.

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To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these sneakers a whole size (0.6 inches or 1 centimeter) larger than their child’s AFO footplate.

How to Tie Your Kids’ Shoes to Keep the AFO in Place

Keep in mind that shoelaces help provide better support and stability compared to shoes with velcro or an alternative closure. 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.

How to Order the Correct Size for Your Child’s AFOs?

Step Number 1

Measure your child’s AFO brace from the back of the heel all the way up to the front part of the brace as shown in the image below. You can either use a measuring tape or a ruler. Make note of that measurement and proceed to step number 2.

how-to-order-shoes-for-AFOs

Step Number 2

Email me your child’s AFO measurements so I can tell you exactly what shoe size you should order for your child. Once I receive your child’s measurements I will respond in less than 24 hours:

fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

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 

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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