I am not a person who considers it Scrooge-like to get your kids practical stuff for the holidays. Especially when there's an abundance of cool sneakers and shoes for kids who wear AFOs, DAFOs and SMOs out there. Here's a list of ones that come recommended by parents and orthotists.
Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Easy Slip
Max loves his new UCBL shoe inserts, which he's been wearing with red Chucks. They are Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Star Easy Slip and have Velcro'd heels to easily sleep feet in and out. While they are not very supportive, they work well with shoe inserts.
The orthotist recommended we get Max a pair of New Balance to interchange with the Chucks, since they have more support. They've actually long been our our go-to sneakers—they're super supportive and come in extra-wide sizes to fit orthotics. We usually take out the insole. If you have a Nordstrom near you, they are usually willing to order a pair in different sizes if your kid has different size feet. (Also, check out the Facebook group CHASA Shoe Exchange to find your solemate).
The hottest shoes for kids and adults who wear orthotics are from Billy. They're the brainchild of Billy Price, who became paralyzed after an accident. He used universal design to create a shoe that's fashionable and functional. The shoes have zippers that start on the sides and go around the toe, so that the upper part of the shoe opens and folds over completely and makes it easier to get the foot in. Right now the shoes are all size M, and the company notes that there is no guarantee they will fit AFOs though plenty of parents say they do, and they plan to debut one soon geared toward orthotics.
Plae Adaptive-Friendly Sneakers
Plea's Adaptive Friendly sneakers have stretch uppers, higher ankle support, a wide tongue opening and a removable insert. Also: They are just so cool.
Ikiki shoes for toddlers are made to fit AFOs and SMOs, and right shoes and left shoes can be ordered individually. Parents say they are easy to put on, lightweight and durable.
Payless SmartFit Sneakers
For years, we used Payless SmartFit sneakers in extra-wide, taking out the insoles to fit Max's orthotics. They were a real bargain! The brick-and-mortar stores are gone but the company still sells via Amazon, here are the SmartFit shoes.
Nike Flyease unzip from the side so feet can slide right in, and come in a C width. Max has had a couple of pair, and they've been comfy and supportive.
Target Lucian Double Zip Sneakers
Heads up: Target now sells sneakers with zippers on both sides, the Lucian Double Zip Sneakers.
Tuskihoshi shoes can be a great fit for a child who wears AFOs or SMOs. They're lightweight, not bulky, machine washable and seriously stylish.
SureStep, a company that makes AFOs, also offers sneakers for toddlers that fit orthotics. They're durable and really cute.
Tomcat Twisters, designed for children and adults who wear AFOs and DAFOs, has a devoted following. This is a British company and the shoes are super quality but not cheap.
Max also wore Hatchback Elites for years, and while they aren't the most stylish theyhave classic good looks and hinged backs to accommodate AFOs. Some insurance plans cover them, so check with yours. (Some parents report getting a prescription that will cover New Balance sneakers, too—also worth looking into.)
Some parents swear by skater shoes, because they're wide. Brands include DC Kids (adult sizes also available), Osiris and Vans.
If your child's foot braces are not covered or fully covered by insurance, you can apply for a CHASA Orthotic Grant.
And if you would like to donate your child's old orthotics, you can donate them directly to children in need in Uganda and Papau New Guinea, here's information on that.