Does My Child Need SMO Braces? 7 Questions To Ask Yourself

by Aculbertson


SMO braces probably weren’t in the future you imagined for your child.

But it’s amazing how a little molded plastic has helped countless kids reach milestones, keep up with peers, and walk for the very first time.

Could they benefit your little one?

Ask yourself these questions.

Three different Surestep SMO braces


1. Am I Seeing Developmental Delays?

This is the most common clue that extra help may be needed.

And while there’s no need to panic if your little one falls a little behind the curve, it is something to keep in mind.

For many parents who notice delays, the prescription they receive isn’t medicine or therapy. It’s advice.

Wait and see.

Those three words have helped some kids and hindered others.

If a child is simply a late bloomer, patience is perfect.

But if your child is held back by a physical limitation, doing nothing changes nothing. And the gap between them and their peers will grow.

The best advice is to get an expert’s opinion. And you don’t need to stop at one.

You can also do your research, advocate for your child, and trust your parental intuition.


2. Is My Child Too Young?

This isn’t the right question to ask.

When it comes to SMO braces, think in terms of ability level rather than months and years.

SMOs are only effective when your child is up and active. So if your little one isn’t trying to stand, cruise, walk yet, braces would be premature.

But it never hurts to learn more just in case they’re needed in the future.


A toddler wearing SMOs


3. Is My Child Too Old?

Many parents fear they missed the boat.

Don’t let that worry take hold. You can still help.

While it’s true that younger is typically better, no age is too old.

Surestep designed an SMO specifically for bigger kids. It’s called the Big Shot.

No matter how old your child is, SMO braces can help:

  • Improve balance
  • Build strength
  • Increase confidence


4. Does My Child Pronate?

Does your child walk on the inside of his or her feet?

That’s pronation.

Essentially, the foot collapses in on itself. If it’s excessive and left untreated, pronation can lead to both short-term and long-term problems.



What important to keep in mind is that, even among SMO braces, there are different ways to treat it.

Some orthotics just push the arch up. But the issue is more complicated than that.

Surestep SMOs are different. They address all three components of pronation.

Surestep Toe Walking SMOs



5. Does My Child Toe Walk?

Pronation is the primary deficit SMO braces address. But it’s certainly not the only one.

For kids who tip toe for stability or sensory reasons, Surestep created the Toe Walking SMO.

The most common orthotic recommended for toe walking is an AFO. With it on, kids are physically unable to stand on their toes.

But bringing your heels up off the ground is a natural, necessary movement. Think about walking up stairs while remaining flat footed.

The Toe Walking SMO features an extension on the back of the brace. Instead of blocking any movement, that extension pokes the back of your child’s legs whenever he or she toe walks. It doesn’t hurt, but it does serve as a reminder to come back down.

Surestep also offers SMO modifications for clubfoot, metatarsus adductus, and sensory deficits.


6. Has My Child Received A Diagnosis?

Don’t get too hung up on this one.

Do all kids who have a diagnosis needs SMOs? No.

If my child doesn’t have a diagnosis, does that mean he or she doesn’t need SMOs? Also no.

However, the answer to this question can provide a helpful roadmap.

As an example, hypotonia is common for kids who have Down syndrome. But it’s far from the only diagnosis associated with low muscle tone. In fact, 600+ medical conditions have been linked. For a more extensive list, check out this previous post.

For other kids, the low muscle tone is a condition all on its own. This is called benign congenital hypotonia.

Child wearing SMO braces


7. Does My Child Need A Different Type Of Device?

The world of orthotics stretches way beyond SMO braces.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, remember that the variety of devices can help your child find an even more effective solution.



AFOs are the taller cousin of SMOs, extending well beyond the ankle. This longer length offers more control, which can be especially helpful if your child has knee instability.



HEKOs are knee braces that prevent little legs from hyperextending. They’re available prefabricated or custom-made.


Derotation Straps

Derotation Straps wrap around the legs to address intoeing or out toeing. They’re sometimes paired with SMOs.



How To Order Surestep SMO Braces

To get a pair for your child, you’ll first need to get a prescription from a doctor. This is necessary because SMOs can be covered by insurance.

Physical therapists can also be helpful advocates during this process.

With the prescription in hand, you can schedule an appointment with an orthotist. This is a specialist who will do the measuring and fitting of the SMO braces.

Need help finding a local provider? Email your ZIP code to info@surestep.net.


Tell me more about Surestep SMOs