The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed shoe recommendations for children to help you find shoes that are helpful for your little ones to facilitate walking, running, jumping and participating in age appropriate activities. Children should be wearing shoes that are flexible and allow the foot to bend and move as though the child is barefoot.
Children learn to walk by gripping their toes on the ground, as they build intrinsic strength of their foot and arch. So at home, it is advised to leave your child barefoot to promote natural foot development. However, when surfaces are uneven, shoes should be worn to protect their feet.
The AAP recommends the following when considering shoe recommendations for children:
- Shoes should be lightweight and flexible to support natural foot movement with a stable base of support.
- Shoes should be made of leather or mesh to allow your baby’s feet to breathe comfortably.
- Shoes should have rubber soles for traction to prevent slipping or sliding.
- Stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness, and loss of mobility.
- Base your shoe selection for children on the barefoot model.
- Shoes should have good shock absorption with durable soles as children participate in more high impact activities.
1) Robeez: The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends Robeez because the company’s shoes promote natural foot function. These shoes are made of high-quality leather, are flexible, and support healthy foot development for infants and toddlers.
2)Momobaby: These shoes offers a wide variety of rubber-soled shoes made of genuine leather. The APMA also recommends Momobaby for infants and toddlers as they are lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and flexible.
3) Keen: Keen makes great shoe and sandal options with cushioning and support!
4)New Balance: New Balance 455 and NewBalanceKV790V6 are great options.
Note: When finding shoes for kids with Orthotics, size one UP for proper fit.
Shoe Options for Kids with Orthotics (remember to buy one size larger):
- Billy Footwear: Billy footwear is appropriate for kids with AFOs or SMOs as it is easily accessible to zip open and closed, allowing kids to be functionally independent. However, it is not supporting the arch as well as Asics or New Balance. If your child has flat feet, Billy Footwear is not an optimal choice.
- Stride Right: These provide great arch support while allowing space for the orthotic insert.
- Hatchbacks: A line of shoes designed specifically to address the needs of children wearing AFOs, DAFOs, and orthotics. Sometimes medical insurance or Medicaid will cover the cost of Hatchbacks.
- Drew Shoe: These shoes are wider than regular shoes which allow for space and comfort.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding your child’s shoes, please consult a physical therapist. A physical therapist can assess if the shoe is a good fit for the child or if the child compensating in their gait pattern because the shoe is not a good fit!