After my 1-year-old son with cerebral palsy received his first pair of braces, I thought “This isn’t so bad, I can get some shoes around these.” I was wrong. Even though he started out with the smaller SMOs, it was still hard to get shoes that went around those things. He is now in AFOs, and it is even more difficult to find shoes that work. I had a very defeating day in the mall dragging my son to every single store trying to shove shoes over his braces. If you are there, this article is for you.
I have not personally tried every shoe I’m about to list. I have included every single shoe I have tried or have heard from other parents that they have tried and it worked for them. This information is difficult to come by, so I wanted to make it readily available to all parents who need it.
Nike is my favorite company ever. Nike teamed up with Lebron James to develop a shoe for a fan who has trouble tying his shoes due to cerebral palsy. You can read all about this wonderful story, The Flyease Journey. However, my child was a 1-year-old and needed a very small size; the smallest they offered in the Flyease series was for a 4-year-old. After a quick chat with their customer service, they told me they would send my request for a smaller size to their production team. Two weeks later, they had smaller sizes listed on their website. (Yes, really.) I ordered two pairs after one got chewed on by a dog.
The shoes have an awesome zipper strap that make getting the shoes on so much easier around braces. Not only are they great for people who find tying shoes difficult, but also for parents who are tired of shoving, tugging, shimmying, and shaking their kid’s shoes over their braces. It’s remarkably easy to get these things on. I even see they now offer options in Wide and Extra-Wide. I used regular width, 2 sizes larger than his foot size and they worked great.
Regular Converse All Star Low Top shoes went over my son’s new larger braces (AFOs) perfectly. We could not use the one with a velcro strap because the strap would reach across, but the strings worked out well. We picked up a pair in his size at Kohl’s, but they can be found at many department stores and even Target. Converse is owned by Nike, so that obviously gets them brownie points with me.
Converse also made a shoe called the Converse All Star Easy Slip that folds back and allows an easier entry. I haven’t tried them yet, but have heard good things about them.
Cons – the Converse website doesn’t seem to carry the Easy Slip, but it can be found on several websites including Amazon.
I’ll admit Stride Rite isn’t my favorite, but many parents would sing their praises. I ended up with a pair of their shoes as the first pair we ever had with braces. My son had his smallest braces at the time. Stride Rite carries XW and XXW sizes that will fit over braces. The selection for XXW is very small and the shoes we had were XW.
Cons – they were difficult to get on and the strap constantly flipped off. I ended up trying to sew it down and extend it, but I’m not the greatest seamstress and so it wasn’t a great plan on my part. The shoe itself was hard, and if you’ve ever been kicked or had your toe stepped on by a kid with braces, you know what I mean. These shoes hurt. They worked at the time, but with all the other choices, I probably won’t be back.
Crocs are the best. I’ve gotten the Kid’s Classic Croc and it’s perfect when you’re in a rush. Are Crocs the cutest shoe out there? Not at all. But when they’ve got Ninja Turtles or Pink Sparkles, then who cares? Like Converse, these are also easily picked up in most department stores and on Amazon. A quick tip to get them on – push the strap down past the heel of the shoe to make a clear opening, slip the shoe on, then pull the strap up behind the foot.
Cons – be careful not to get a Croc with a significant arch in the sole. Most of the shoes listed here can have their soles removed, but on the Croc it’s not possible. Arches in shoes can cause heavier in-toeing, so be careful with your selection. Get as flat as possible in all shoes.
I have not gotten to order a pair of these yet, but they appear to be awesome. Their designs are great and their customer service can help you in choosing the best style to go with orthotics. What makes them unique is their extra long strap option that makes getting shoes over orthotics much easier, not to mention you can make those straps custom. Their shoes are also lightweight and flexible with removable insoles. They have a ton of cool designs I can’t wait to try. Finding cute shoes for AFOs are difficult, and I’ve heard some rave reviews of these.
Keeping Pace is a company dedicated to making shoes only for orthotic purposes. The shoe has an easy back entry to make getting on and off easier. Cons – I’m not loving their styles as they are very generic and bulky. Their prices are significantly higher than the other shoes listed, and you can’t order online, you have to call in. I don’t think I’ve made a “phone order” since 1997 (my mom did it). But, since they serve only our orthotic community, I felt they were worth mentioning.
Hatchbacks is another company serving only the special needs community. Their shoes are cuter than Keeping Pace and you can order online. Their shoes offer a back entry that is so helpful. Cons — Their options are limited and their prices are also a little steep.
You focus on getting shoes that fit… and then it snows. Boots are impossible to get over braces most of the time, so I had no idea what to do whenever it was snowing. I wanted him to be able to play outside too. And then I found out about these babies. You just pop them on right over whatever shoe he/she already has on, pull the cords and boom! You’ve got a snow boot over their braces. Do you have a shopping bag over their shoes to keep their regular shoes from getting wet? No. You are a super parent and have these cute little things on them. I personally will be getting the fire trucks for next season. Cons – You haven’t bought them yet.
Answer 2 Shoes are specifically designed by Apis Footwear for orthotics. K-Swiss is reported to work as long as they have a flat bottom. They offer wide and XW sizes for kids, although those particular options don’t offer the cutest of styles. New Balance also offers wide and XW options, and like K-Swiss, you would need to make sure they are flat. They have more XW options than K-Swiss. Smartfit shoes by Payless have been reported as helpful. Obviously, they are on the cheap side, which is awesome, and they have several wide options. If you are in search of dress shoes for boys, this is where I would recommend you start. They have a couple for girls, but they are not the cutest.
I am not a fan of paying $13 for one pair of socks for a now 2-year-old. But I will list the places I have heard of for people who may have trouble finding socks elsewhere or need them for a specific reason. Remember to speak with your orthotist if there is ever any redness or rubbing from braces. It may not be the socks.
I have used socks from Target and Amazon for my son. When he went up to a higher brace, it was a little harder to find knee-high socks for a 2-year-old boy (they have a ton for girls and they are adorable). But all you have to do is search Amazon for “toddler boy knee high socks” and the latest collection will come up. Our local Target store carries knee high socks for toddler girls. Once he gets above 3 years old, it will be easier to find. Almost all athletic brands, such as Nike, make tall athletic (soccer) socks that go to the knee or above and they carry them in many department stores. They just don’t have soccer knee socks for 2-year-olds. Bummer.
Cascade Dafo – $5 – $13 per pair
AFOsock.com – $4.50 – $5.00 per pair
SmartKnitKids – $7.95 per pair (seamless for sensory issues)
Keeping Pace Socks – $17.98 for 2 pairs – $62.99 for 6 pairs
Follow this journey on Special Needs Rant.
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Photo via Nike.