How to make more toe room in shoes

A close up of hands measuring a baby’s foot with a tape measure.

Having enough toe room in shoes is just as important as making sure the rest of the shoe fits, both for your child’s comfort and their foot health. Shoes that are too small can lead to painful calluses or blisters, as well as affecting the normal development of the foot. It can even affect your little one’s bone structure!

Sometimes it can be the case that while the majority of a shoe fits well on your child’s foot, the toe area can be too small, leaving their toes uncomfortably cramped. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do about that.

How to ensure there is enough toe room in new shoes

Children’s feet grow fast, and if you don’t regularly check the fit of their shoes, you can often find that they’ve grown out of them since you last checked. This can be a major cause of not having enough toe room in shoes - the shoes are simply too small. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get a new pair.

When you do so, it’s important to make sure that the new pair of shoes fits properly. Remember, a size too big can be just as bad for your child’s foot development as a size too small. It can be tempting to simply buy the next size up to speed up the shopping process - and to make sure the new shoes last as long as possible - but that’s not always the best choice for your child’s feet. It all depends on how their feet are growing.

For instance, if it’s only your child’s toes that are cramped and not their heels or the edges of the feet, it may be that they just need a little extra room in the toe box area. If this is the case, you may be able to solve the problem by choosing a shoe with a wider, more rounded toe shape that allows plenty of space for your child’s toes.

Alternatively, if it’s the sides of your child’s toes that are cramped and not the tips, there may be an issue with width but not length. Your child might also complain that their shoes feel too narrow, or that they have pain on the sides of their feet. In this situation, try a wide-fit design in the same size they currently have to see if that alleviates the discomfort.

If neither of those options work for your child, then yes, it may be that the next size up is the right choice. It’s worth remembering, however, that you may be able to get school shoes and other types of footwear in half sizes as well as the regular sizes. These half sizes may fit better for your child if they’re not quite up to the next full size yet.

Always remember to measure your child’s feet before you start browsing for shoes, as this can help to save you time by ruling out options. For instance, if your child’s feet are longer from heel to toe than they should be for the size of shoe, that tells you it’s time to move up to the next size.

How to make shoes wider at the toes

Perhaps your child’s shoes are the right size according to the measurements, or maybe you’re wondering if there’s a way you could save money by making that pair of shoes last just a little longer. Whatever the reason, lots of parents try to stretch their children’s shoes to make them bigger, particularly in the toe area.

Unfortunately, this is not advisable. Stretching shoes affects their structural integrity, meaning they’re less able to properly support and protect your child’s feet. This can result in a weakening of the material, which may lead to poor foot posture, an increased risk of injury and even foot health issues such as calluses or blisters where the misshapen shoe has rubbed against the feet.

To avoid this, getting a new pair of shoes in the right size and shape is the only option. However, it’s worth noting that size isn’t always the issue. Sometimes, the way you store your child’s shoes and the way they handle them can be the culprits.

If shoes are stored incorrectly, they can start to lose their shape. This can happen, for instance, if they’re stored upside down, or in a big pile of other shoes all pressing down upon the material. Weight pressing on a part of the shoe that isn’t designed to bear weight can cause the material to bend out of shape and, depending on how long it’s stored like that, it may stay that way.

If that sounds familiar, it could be what’s causing the lack of toe room. There’s not much you can do for a shoe that has already been bent out of shape, but there are things you can do to prevent it happening to other shoes. The best way to store them is in their own shoe box, where no weight will press down upon them. If they’re shoes that aren’t worn everyday, for example some casual shoes that are usually only worn at weekends, you can also stuff them with newspaper in order to help them keep their shape when they’re not in use.

Your little one’s shoes can also be impacted by how they put them on and take them off. Laces and other fastenings can be tricky for little fingers, and they might be tempted to forego them altogether and force their feet into the shoes without undoing them first. While it can be possible for them to get their shoes on in this way, it’s bad news for the shoe, as the undue pressure can bend the heel section and the sides.

In turn, this structural buckling of the heel area can push your child’s feet forwards inside the shoe, resulting in their toes feeling cramped up against the front of the shoe while their heels appear to have plenty of room. For this reason, it’s always best to encourage your child to undo fastenings before taking off or putting on their shoes, as it will help them to last longer.