It’s 2022, and it seems like the world can pretty much agree that it’s important for children to see themselves represented in books, on TV, and in their real lives. For children with disabilities, finding toys that help them feel seen can be a major challenge for parents. But thanks to one Etsy seller, kids who wear AFO braces can now have matching ones made to fit their favorite doll or stuffed animal.
An ankle foot orthosis (AFO) is a kind of brace used to support the lower leg and foot for people who have weakness in those areas. They can also help keep joints properly aligned or keep the foot in the proper position for children who have spasticity, which can cause muscles to tighten or stiffen. There are many reasons a child may need AFO braces, and understandably, most kids will need some time to get used to wearing them.
Maybe you want your child’s favorite toy to have AFOs so you can help your child adjust to their own (this is actually a technique hospital workers use). Or, maybe you just want them to have a doll that looks like them to boost their confidence. No matter the reason, Etsy seller Teddy Footsplints has you covered.
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This shop sells teddy bear and doll AFO leg braces in a variety of patterns to match your child’s. They come in sizes designed to fit most Build-A-Bear teddies (or any that are similar in size, around 15 to 18 inches long). As for dolls, they can be sized to fit American Girl, Our Generation, Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, Dinkum Doll, Rubens Barn Baby, and Miniland brand dolls. You can order a single brace for the left or right foot for $24.53, or a pair for $39.19.
The shop owner, named Nicola, told Romper she worked as an orthotic technician for 15 years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, she saw so many parents struggle to help their children accept wearing AFOs. So, she opened Teddy Footsplints to help children wear their orthotics proudly.
“I started Teddy Footsplint hoping that if a child has a little cuddly friend they can identify with, it would help them wear their braces proudly and help them with their treatment. Sadly, there are few toys that represent children with a lower extremity disability and having a teddy (or doll) that looks the same as them can mean the world,” she said.
The miniature braces have a 5-star rating and lots of reviews from satisfied parents. One especially heartwarming review reads, “These little braces made my little girl’s eyes light up! She’s only 17 months old but knew her baby doll was like her now. She sat and played with the straps the way I do hers, she took her shoes to put on her little feet. They fit her bitty baby perfectly and match her AFOs to a T!”
Teddy Footsplints is located in the United Kingdom, so shoppers in the U.S. should allow some extra time for shipping if you’re ordering these as a gift. And if you have any questions about sizing, or whether an order can be customized to better match your child’s braces, don’t hesitate to reach out to the shop owner.