The Ultimate Guide To Finding Shoes For AFOs & SMOs

by Aculbertson

Shoe shopping used to be fun.

But when you add impatient kids and AFOs or SMOs to the equation, it can feel more like a chore, especially if you’re a first-timer. Do I go up several sizes? What do I look for? How do I even start?

We’re here to help.


Recommended AFO Shoes & SMO Shoes

The options listed below have been recommended by other Surestep parents. But remember, not all shoes from these brands are guaranteed to fit. A little trial and error will be needed. What you’ll want to look for shoes that are both wide and deep:

  • New Balance
  • Converse
  • Skechers
  • Tsukihoshi
  • Plae
  • Stride Rite
  • ikiki


Surestep Shoes For AFOs and SMOs

Another option is to pick shoes specifically designed to be worn with SMO or AFO braces.

Surestep has you covered.

Our shoes are extra wide and feature a deeper toe box. This allows you to slide your little one’s foot inside more easily. They’re available in sizes Toddler 3 through Youth 12, and in three colors:

You can purchase them directly through our online store.

And if you’re not sure about sizing, download our Shoe Measuring Guide.

Kid shoes for AFOsWhite Surestep Shoes


General Tips

  • Instead of shoving your child’s foot in, try rocking the shoe heel back and forth, which will help it slide on more easily
  • Shoelaces tend to provide a more secure fit than Velcro, but if you buy shoes with Velcro, consider getting strap extensions
  • Removable insoles give you extra wiggle room
  • Pick the smallest size that fits over the braces because big, roomy shoes are a tripping hazard
  • Mesh tops on shoes provide more give
  • Shoe horns both help the shoe slide on more easily and protect it from getting damaged
  • Zippers provide a larger opening for your child’s foot to slide in
  • Avoid shoes that slide on easily and remember that, after getting broken in, you won’t have to fight as hard to get the shoes on
  • When you do find a pair that fit, buy multiple sizes up so you can easily transition as your little one grows
  • For extra peace of mind, bring new shoes to your next PT/Orthotist appointment to get an expert’s perspective


How Many Shoe Sizes Up Do I Need To Go?

For Surestep SMOs, you shouldn’t need to go up more than half a shoe size. This is because of our unique footplates. Unlike options from other companies, our footplates do not extend past the toes. So keep in mind that the braces will not add length to your child’s foot, just width. Moving up multiple sizes predominately adds length. Instead, what you want are wide shoes.

In addition to being unnecessary, big shoes can rob your child of the benefits the braces offer. SMOs provide stability. The last thing you want to do is take that away with clown shoes.

AFOs, which do feature full footplates, add both width and length. You’ll likely need to go up one or one and a half shoe sizes to accommodate them.


But What About Socks?

Finding the perfect pair of socks isn’t easy either.

Braces can leave your child’s feet sweaty and overheated. Keep that in mind before rushing out to get more heavy, cotton socks.

Surestep offers a great alternative. Our SMO Socks are thin and moisture-wicking. They’re also designed without seams, which makes them more comfortable, especially if your little one has sensory concerns.

They’re available online, but remember that they’re only intended to be worn with SMOs.

Other options include SmartKnit and regular knee high socks, which can be pulled tight and folded over the top of AFOs.

And Boots?

As with the shoes, not all of these options are guaranteed to work. But this list of boots gives you a starting point to explore:

  • Butler Boots
  • Kamik
  • Koolway Sports
  • MyMayu
  • Plae
  • Stride Rite Made 2 Play Sneaker Boot


You’re now equipped for the big hunt. Good luck.

Browse Surestep Shoes