What Happens When Children Wear Shoes That Are Too Big?

By Sharon Perkins
Shoes that don't fit can cause pain as well as accidents.
Shoes that don't fit can cause pain as well as accidents.

When your child is little, it seems like baby needs a new pair of shoes every time you turn around. It's tempting to keep him in the same pair for a little longer by buying shoes that are a little too big, so he'll have time to grow into them before he grows out of them. Buying shoes too big can backfire, however, so it's better -- although harder on your pocketbook -- to keep your little person in shoes that won't trip him up.

Risk of Tripping

The biggest risk of buying shoes too big is that your child can trip over the too-long toe and take a header into the nearest piece of furniture or the floor. The toes of new shoes that are too big catch on the floor. When shoes are too big, the flex point of the shoes -- where it naturally bends -- won't match up with your child's toes, making him more likely to trip, certified pedorthist Donna Boland explains in a December 2010 Lower Extremity Review article. Despite the risk, around 40 percent of parents admit to buying their child's shoes too large, a 2010 BBC News Magazine article reports.


Shoes that are too big slide back and forth, which can create painful blisters on the backs of heels. Kids are prone to blisters because they have sweatier feet than adults; the combination of friction and moisture make blister formation more likely. Uncomfortable shoes can discourage kids from running and playing, activities they need to participate in to grow up healthy, a Primary Times article quotes Bob Hardy Fellow of the Society of Shoe Fitters as saying.

Difficulty Walking

If you ever had shoes that slid around on your feet, you know how difficult it is to walk and keep your shoes on at the same time. Kids just learning how to walk will have an especially difficult time trying to keep their balance when their shoes are unstable under their feet. When older children's shoes are too big, they can't grip the ground well when running or climbing, which increases the risk of falls.


If you have more than one child, you're probably very tempted to hand down shoes from one to another, as long as the shoes are unisex or the kids are the same gender. This can lead to the too-big-shoe syndrome, where the sandals that fit child #1 perfectly in the summer are too big for child #2 the next summer, but because you don't want to buy new sandals, you make her wear them anyway. Resist this temptation for several reasons. Not only are they too big, but they're also somewhat molded to your first child's foot, which might not resemble your second child's foot in any way, outside of the presence of five toes.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.