Is your child complaining that their feet and/or ankle hurt? Have you noticed that your child is walking a little, different? Muscle fatigue, foot pain, and a change in walking pattern (i.e. their ankle rolls inwards while they walk) could be caused by flat feet.
If your child has flat feet and is experiencing pain, you need to address the issue ASAP. Experiencing pain when walking or running isn’t normal. One way of addressing pain and discomfort caused by flat feet is by choosing the right footwear for your child.
Choosing a shoe that is not only supportive but comfortable will help alleviate the pain children may be experiencing because of their flat feet. So we’ve done the work for you and found the best shoes for kids with flat feet to have them feel comfortable (and look good too!)
Before we get to the list, here’s what you need to know about flat feet including how to find out whether or not your child has flat feet, and ways to treat pain caused by flat feet (other than choosing the appropriate footwear).
IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…
- IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…
- Flat feet in children
- How to tell if your child has flat feet
- Treating flat feet
- A word on overpronation
- Choosing shoes for kids with flat feet
- Best Shoes for Kids with Flat Feet
- 1. adidas Originals Swift
- 2. Merrell Jungle Moc Frosty Slip-On
- 3. New Balance Kids’ 680v5
- 4. Saucony Kids Cohesion 10
- 5. Tsukihoshi Youth 20 Speed Sneaker
- 6. Pediped Becky Mary Jane
- 7. KEEN Chandler CNX
- 8. Stride Rite Made 2 Play Artin Sneaker
- 9. Birkenstock Kids’ Arizona Sandal
- 10. Hush Puppies Gavin Uniform Dress Shoe
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Takeaway
Flat feet in children
First of all, don’t worry. Having flat feet is pretty common. Genetics can play a major factor in whether or not a child will have flat feet. (That’s right, mom and dad. If you have flat feet, your child may have it too.) Another cause of flat feet is obesity.
But technically speaking, we are all born with flat feet. If you look at babies and toddlers feet you’ll see that they lack an arch. For most people, an arch will form during childhood, starting at the age of 3, but for some people, they will continue to have flat feet.
If there is no pain present, great! No special treatment is necessary. But if your child does have flat feet and is over the age of 3, it’s a good idea to go visit their doctor or a podiatrist.
How to tell if your child has flat feet
If you are trying to figure out whether or not your child has flat feet, there is a simple experiment you and your child can perform to see if he/she does have flat feet. It’s called the “Wet Test.”
You will need a piece of cardboard bigger than your child’s foot and a dish of water that your child can dip the bottom of their foot in. Alternately, you can also perform this near a bathtub so they can wet the bottom of their feet there.
First, have your child dip their foot in the water. Make sure it isn’t dripping wet. Shake off the excess if needed. Then have them quickly step firmly on the piece of cardboard.
When they remove their foot examine their footprint. If there is no clear curve from the heel to the ball of the foot, your child may have low arches or flat feet.
For a demonstration on how to perform the Wet Test, check out this video:
If you are still aren’t sure, a podiatrist can perform a gait analysis to see if your child does have flat feet.
Treating flat feet
Like we mentioned before, if your child isn’t experiencing any pain, no treatment is necessary to address flat feet. However, if your child has flat feet and is complaining about foot or ankle pain or fatigue, it may be time to consider a treatment option. Some symptoms can be heel or arch pain, ankle swelling, muscle fatigue or pain that increases when they are performing a physical activity.
*Note: As with all conditions, if your child is experiencing any pain, please visit your child’s pediatrician or a podiatrist. If your child is experiencing a lot of pain, the doctor may order an x-ray or CT scan to make sure there are no other problems going on in the foot/ankle area.
Some treatment options for pain caused by flat feet include:
- Choosing shoes that provide arch support. That means avoiding footwear such as flip-flops and sandals.
- Using orthotic inserts for additional arch support.
- Physical therapy.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises for the feet.
- Losing weight. (For flat feet that are caused by obesity.)
- Over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Rest. Especially from strenuous, high impact activities such as running and jumping.
A word on overpronation
Children with flat feet will overpronate when they walk or run. But what is overpronation? And what does it mean when it comes to flat feet?
Overpronation is when the ankle of a person rolls inward when walking or running. Many children and adults have some level of overpronation, but those with flat feet tend to have an excessive amount of overpronation which can lead to foot, ankle, knee or even back pain.
Addressing flat feet with orthotic inserts and/or shoes with sufficient arch support will prevent your child’s feet from overpronating. But again, check with your child’s podiatrist first before adding insoles to your child’s shoes.
Choosing shoes for kids with flat feet
When it comes to choosing the right shoes for your child with flat feet, there are few things to keep in mind.
Arch support. This is the #1 thing you are going to be looking for. Avoid shoes that have no arch support and stick with shoes that will provide your child’s foot with a good level of support.
Comfort. Arch support should provide a level of comfort, but also make sure the shoe is made of a comfortable and preferably breathable material to keep their feet cool and dry.
Traction. Kids are active and the shoes they wear need to have a grip on whatever surface they encounter. Take a look at the outsole (bottom of the shoe) and make sure it is made of durable rubber and has some sort of tread to grip the surface.
Sizing. Not all shoes have the same sizing. Make sure to refer to the brand’s sizing chart to get an accurate fit. A rule of thumb (pun intended) is that there should be a thumbs-width of spacing between the longest toe and the top of the shoe.
Best Shoes for Kids with Flat Feet
Now it’s time to see which shoes are the most supportive and will give your child the relief he or she needs from pain due to flat feet. You’ll be familiar with most of the brands on this list, and for those moms and dads who have flat feet too, you might even want to consider the adult size for yourself.
So keep reading to find out our top 10 picks for shoes for kids with flat feet!
1. adidas Originals Swift
- Experience zero wear-in time with the...
- Lace closure
- Rubber outsole geared for explosive...
These stylish lightweight shoes from adidas are exactly what you’d expect from the brand— a classic good-looking design and high-quality shoe that will live up to plenty of miles and wear and tear at the playground. And for kids with flat feet, it’ll give them the support they need.
The EVA midsole and OrthoLite sock liner provide plenty of comfort and support for casual wear and active wear. The sock liner also wicks moisture (aka sweat) away from kids’ feet keeping them cool and dry.
The comfy Agility Touch Skin upper doesn’t just look good, but it feels good too. It conforms to your child’s foot for a sock-like fit which means no break-in time.
As you can expect from adidas, these shoes will cost a little more. But pain-free, comfortable footwear is worth every cent.
- Lightweight shoe is comfortable and supportive.
- Agility Touch Skin upper conforms to child’s unique foot shape.
- Durable rubber sole provides good traction for physical activities.
- Comes in plenty of colors for boys and girls.
- Available in sizes for toddlers up to big kids.
- On the pricey side.
2. Merrell Jungle Moc Frosty Slip-On
- Waterproof suede upper with M-Select DRY...
- Molded nylon arch shank for stability...
- Lugged outsole for traction and grip
Perhaps you are looking for something durable and rugged that’s not a sneaker. Then check out the Merrell Jungle Moc Frost slip on. It features a nylon arch shank to support little one’s arches and the slip-on design means kids can get these on fast and easy.
The suede upper on this shoe is treated with Merrell’s M-Select Dry to make it fully waterproof. The outsole has plenty of durable lugs to provide good grip on rough, bumpy terrain, making this shoe great for hiking and other outdoor adventures.
Available in sizes for toddlers to big kids, these shoes are comfortable and can even withstand cold temperatures. These shoes are available in only two colors: black and dark pink, which they call “wineberry”.
- Comfortable and supportive.
- Fully waterproof. Can even use in winter.
- Lugged outsole makes these shoes great for rugged terrain.
- Easy to slip on.
- Nylon arch shank provides good arch support.
- Come in only two colors.
3. New Balance Kids’ 680v5
- Injection Molded EVA midsole
- ABZORB heel
The injected molded EVA midsole in the New Balance 680v5 provides kids with solid arch support. Along with the ABZORB crash pad in the heel, the midsole absorbs shock no matter how rough they play.
This surprisingly lightweight sneaker has a breathable mesh upper that provides structure and another layer of support. And the synthetic outsole provides enough grip for running as well as other sports.
Perfect for athletic kids or everyday wear, the New Balance 680v5 comes in plenty of bright colors for both girls and boys.
- Injected molded EVA midsole is very supportive.
- ABZORB crash pad in the heel absorbs shock.
- Breathable mesh upper keeps kids feet cool.
- Great for sports.
- Good for kids with wider feet.
- Runs a little big. May need to size down.
4. Saucony Kids Cohesion 10
- Leather and mesh upper provide...
- Antimicrobial treatment lining to...
- Non marking outsole with tri-flex...
This running shoe for kids by Saucony is cushy, supportive and will have them flying in no time. The Cohesion 10 provides kids stability for everyday wear as well as for sports and other physical activities.
The durable leather and mesh upper allow for plenty of airflow while the lining of the shoe is made of an antimicrobial material, which means no stinky shoes. The strategically placed tri-flex rubberized lugs on the outsole provide the grip kids need to run, jump and play on any surface.
The Saucony Cohesion 10 is available in plenty of fun color choices for kids to choose from. This shoe has laces but is also available with or without a Velcro strap.
- Super cushy, but supportive and stable shoe.
- Bright fun color choices to choose from.
- Durable mesh and leather upper is breathable.
- Tri-flex rubberized lugs provide traction on any surface.
- Choice of with or without a Velcro strap.
- Velcro strap doesn’t hold up to a ton of use.
5. Tsukihoshi Youth 20 Speed Sneaker
- Machine Washable – Machine wash COLD;...
- Barefoot Comfort – Wide toe boxes...
- Deodorizing Insole – Infused with...
- EVA/Rubber outsole –...
- Family/Pedorthist Friendly - With its...
You’re probably starting to see a trend, right? Because of the design and construction, sneakers are going to provide your child with the right amount of support and comfort. And while the name might not be familiar to you, these sneakers by Tsukihoshi are a great choice.
The Tsukihoshi Youth 20 sneakers are super lightweight and flexible, allowing kids feet to move naturally and not be weighed down. The molded cup insole in this shoe provides support for children’s unique arches.
The antibacterial insoles (which have green tea extract in them!) wick sweat away from feet and keep odors at bay. And to make these shoes even better, the Youth 20 sneakers are machine washable.
- Designed specifically for children’s feet.
- Molded cup insole provides good arch support.
- Odor-resistant antibacterial insole.
- Machine washable.
- Run large.
6. Pediped Becky Mary Jane
- Breathable leather lining for comfort
- Flexible, lightweight sole
- Vecro enclosure for adjustable fit and...
- Flex Fit system for better fit and...
- Accepted by the American Podiatric...
Looking for something a little fancier? For the flat-footed little lady who needs something for special occasions, the Pediped Becky Mary Jane has been approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association to keep kids growing feet happy and healthy.
This shoe features Pediped’s Flex Fit System which are special inserts that can be inserted or removed in order to provide your child with correct fit she needs as well as allow the shoe to last a little longer with her ever-growing feet. These shoes also have cushioned arch support and a rubber sole, both of which are flexible and keep feet super comfy.
Need something for everyday wear? These will work great too! These shoes were built to last for years (or at least until your child grows out of them!)
- Cushioned arch support is comfortable and supportive.
- Classy design for fancier occasions or everyday wear.
- Flex Fit System allows you to customize fit and prolong wear.
- Flexible, durable rubber outsole.
- Will require some breaking in.
7. KEEN Chandler CNX
- Breathable mesh lining
- Secure fit lace capture system
- Non-marking rubber outsole
- Made in China
The KEEN Chandler CNX is another tough shoe that will take on any adventure while providing your child and their flat feet with the comfort and support they need. The breathable lightweight mesh upper won’t weight down kids’ feet and the contoured arch provides plenty of support and stability.
Kids can get this shoe on quick and easy with the elastic quick tying laces. The lugs on the outsole are multidirectional which means rocks, roots and other obstacles are no match for this shoe. It’ll provide the traction they need no matter where they go— mountains, trails, jungles or even the wild playground!
- Contoured arch support works great for kids who need extra support.
- Quick-tying laces make getting shoes on and off easily.
- Multidirectional lugs provide traction on any terrain, even ice.
- Lightweight, breathable upper keeps feet cool.
- Laces wear out quickly.
8. Stride Rite Made 2 Play Artin Sneaker
- Washable materials for easy cleaning
- Alternative closure with hook & loop for...
- Mesh linings with antimicrobial...
- Memory foam insole for enhanced comfort
It’s hard to talk about kids’ shoes and not mention Stride Rite. And for our flat-footed little ones, the Stride Rite Made 2 Play Artin Sneaker is it. The memory foam insole conforms to your child’s unique foot shape and provides the support and stability they need to play all day.
These super comfortable shoes feature an antimicrobial lining to keep them stink-free. And if these shoes come up against some messy adventures (muddy puddle jumping anyone?) they are safe to throw straight into the washing machine.
The Made 2 Play Artin sneakers are made of a durable leather and mesh material and have a rubber sole that provides good grip on smooth and slippery surfaces. These shoes also happen to be one of the most affordable pairs of shoes on the list, with sizes for sizes for toddlers all the way up to little kids’ size 13.5.
- Hook & loop closure makes it easy to get the shoes on and off.
- Antimicrobial lining for odor-free shoes.
- Machine washable.
- Memory foam insole comfortable and supportive.
- May not hold up to everyday wear and tear.
9. Birkenstock Kids’ Arizona Sandal
- Kids version the The often imitated,...
- Heel Height (cm):Flat
- Platform Height (cm):Flatcm
- Main Materials:Manmade
We know that kids don’t want to be wearing sneakers all the time, especially in the hot summer months. And with these sandals, they don’t have to! These classic sandals by Birkenstock will provide the arch support your child needs at the beach, the pool and everywhere in between.
Just like mom and dad’s Birkenstocks, these sandals have a contoured cork footbed with a deep heel cup that is both supportive and surprisingly comfortable. The straps can be adjusted for a better fit.
The one downside? They aren’t cheap. But they can take a beating, plenty of wear, and provide the comfort little feet need.
- Deep heel cup and contoured footbed provide arch support.
- Straps can be adjusted for better fit.
- EVA outsole provides extra cushioning.
- Very durable, long lasting.
- Raised to bar promotes natural grip of the foot.
10. Hush Puppies Gavin Uniform Dress Shoe
- Memory foam footbed for all day comfort...
- Sockliner with antimicrobial treatment...
- School uniform approved
- Non-marking outsole
And for the little gentlemen who have a special occasion, we present the Hush Puppies Gavin dress shoe. They have a memory foam footbed for support and comfort for any occasion, every day and all day wear.
Made entirely of leather, this sleek black shoe looks as good as it feels. And the with antimicrobial sock liner, it’ll keep them smelling pretty good too. The hook and loop closure also make getting it on and off easy.
These shoes do run a little narrow and may take a few wears to break in, but once they are broken in, they are super comfortable and provide style and support your little fella needs.
- Memory foam footbed conforms to kids foot shape and provides support.
- Antimicrobial sock liner prevents odors from lingering.
- Easy on, easy off hook and loop closure.
- No marking rubber outsole has good grip.
- Runs narrow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does my child need surgery for flat feet?
A: The short answer: No. Unless there is another major underlying foot issue, flat feet do not require surgery. But again, please consult your child’s pediatrician or podiatrist to make sure any foot pain they are having is not caused by something else.
Q: Does my child need custom orthotics or over-the-counter orthotics?
A: While the shoes on our list provide a great amount of arch support for kids with flat feet, it may not be quite enough for some kids. If that’s the case your podiatrist may suggest a custom orthotic or over-the-counter insole.
Depending on your insurance, custom orthotics may or may not be covered. And for many parents, you may learn quickly how expensive custom orthotics can be. If that’s the case, talk with your child’s podiatrist to see if an over-the-counter insole will provide the arch support your child needs.
Q: How do I know if my child is wearing the right size shoe?
A: While purchasing a pair of supportive shoes is important for kids, making sure they are wearing the right size is just as important. Here’s what you need to know when selecting the right size shoe for your child:
- When trying on a shoe, have your child wear the socks they intend to wear with the shoe.
- The shoe should have about a half inch from the longest toe to the tip of the shoe.
- Check to see if their pinky toe is pressed up against the side of the shoe. The pinky toe should have a little wiggle room and shouldn’t be squished against the side of the shoe.
- Make sure their heel is up against the back of the shoe when trying on the shoe.
Q: What is the difference between a midsole, insole, and outsole?
A: The midsole, insole, and outsole are three different parts of the shoe. The outsole, which is sometimes referred to as just the “sole,” is located on the very bottom of the shoe. It is usually made of durable rubber and provides traction.
The midsole is located directly above the outsole. It is usually made of foam and provides cushioning, arch support and stability. The insole is a removable piece that is placed on top of the midsole that provides some cushioning but also can wick away moisture.
For those needing additional support, the insole can be removed and replaced with an orthotic insole of choice.
Foot pain from flat feet is no joke. But your little one doesn’t have to suffer. We’ve found plenty of supportive shoes that will help provide the arch support they need to alleviate foot and ankle pain caused by their flat feet.
When it comes to the best shoes for kids with flat feet, our favorite pick is the adidas Originals Swift running shoe. These shoes are not only supportive but as you can expect from adidas, stylish too. Because let’s face it, being comfortable, pain-free and looking good is important.