I recently reached out to my readers to learn about what child development questions and concerns they had. One topic that was brought up a few times was “toe walking.” Several parents reported that their toddlers, preschooler and older children walk on their tip toes. Some only do it periodically, while others walk primarily on their toes. You have probably heard “something” about toe walking, but what is it really? Is it a sign of a bigger problem?
What steps can parents take (pun intended) to help their toe-walking children?
My friends at the Inspired Treehouse were so helpful with our last articles addressing W-sitting and tummy time. It was only natural that I turned to them for their expert opinion again.
[bctt tweet=”What steps can parents take (pun intended) to help their #toe-walking children? #Toddler #Autism”]
Lauren who is a Pediatric Physical Therapist addresses toe-walking in her usual sensible way:
One of the most difficult and common child development issues I run across in my pediatric therapy practice is toe walking. As soon as a new acquaintance finds out that I am a pediatric PT, inevitably they ask about their child who is a toe walker or walks with a flat foot (more on that one in a later post!). I have to admit, every time a preschool teacher comes to me and says, “I think you need to take a look at this student, he is really up there on his toes”, I cringe a little bit. And here’s why– toe walking can range from a totally normal developmental phase to a BIG problem. Here are some of my thoughts on this very common issue related to child development. (Click to continue to read Lauren’s article)
Share with me in the “comments” any questions you have regarding your child’s development.
For more insightful articles about your child’s milestones follow The Inspired Treehouse on:
Their website, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter
Check out our other articles in the series “Expert Advice.” We have articles from OT/ PT, a sleep counselor and a nutritionist – all wonderful professionals specializing in helping pediatric patients.
My niece did this until age 3 and then it just stopped! I love this series of yours!
That’s a great article! One of the reasons I like our pediatrician is because she takes things seriously without causing undue stress or panic. This reminds me of that. Could the toe walking be something serious? Yes. But there are other non-serious things it could be and regardless of the diagnosis, there are steps to take that can help it. I also always love when people point out that every kid is different. It’s funny how quickly we forget that!
Mama in the Now says
Our pediatrician is the same way – he is great at pointing out when something could be signs of a bigger thing – but then also reminds me that it could just be normal. Every kid IS different… Thank God for that!
This is interesting. I had heard of this too when my eldest was younger, and I heard rumors that it was related to autism. Like the article said, he eventually outgrew it with no need to do any type of treatment. I think it was a phase he was going through.
Mama in the Now says
Our kids all went through this phase too – more or less. JUST when I noticed it and started to panic they would stop it… ha ha.
I’ve read the article on The Inspired Treehouse as well as the comments associated with it. I understand there are a myriad of reasons a child would walk on their toes. My 4th child is one of them. She shows no signs of any neurological or physical development concerns whatsoever. She can walk on her heels when we tell her to and has no sensory complaints about doing so. Despite telling her over and over to walk on her heels she will go back to her toes in seconds. Why the concern then? ….she’s almost 7.
While many comments in the aforementioned article say they are currently toe walking adults without problems I wonder if they’ve become so accustomed they don’t realize the problems or they haven’t presented themselves yet? My husband is a chiropractor and is currently treating a patient who toe walked as a child (parents thought it was cute and didn’t do anything about it) now this patient is walking extensively during the day and experiencing regular problems. It’s because of this we are now becoming more concerned about our daughter.
I’m hoping for some help? Working with the premise her condition is strictly idiopathic with the potential of creating a shortened achilles which would require surgery….what can I do to avoid that? Or are we already too late considering her age?
Lauren Drobnjak says
First I would ask if you have seen a pediatric orthopedic doctor who could assess her boney structure in her foot and her current range of motion to determine if there are any deficits at this point (especially in the achilles). If she is tight, she is compensating to achieve a foot flat pattern when you ask her to by creating length somewhere else in her body that could affect her later.
I would also consider seeing a pediatric PT that could teach you appropriate stretching activities and strategies for encouraging an appropriate gait pattern as well as to provide some proprioceptive activities for her.
I have seen many toe walkers that are your daughter’s age or older that have not needed lengthening surgeries. It is awesome that you are so knowledgeable and that you are being proactive!! Keep reminding her and encouraging her to get those heels down!!
It’s hard to offer advice on specific kiddos when I can’t see them, but I hope this helps a bit! 🙂
~The Inspired Treehouse
Brandi- please read my comment below written Oct 12, 2015. Don’t know if it will help you at all but just wanted to let you know it’s possible to be just fine as a toe walker. Feel free to reply back if you’d like:)
Hello all! So I just wanted to tell my story on this tow walking. I will be 31 years old this year and I still walk on my toes. Although I do it more when I am barefooted, then when wearing shoes. My parents did probably what every parent would have done, talk to my doctor when I was a child. And doctor said I would out grow it and nothing what physical wrong with me. But I never out grew it and guess what parents I AM PERFECTLY FINE!! I dont have any issues physically, mentally or otherwise. So if your child is a toe walker and you can’t find the “WHY” they really may never have a real reasoning and they could be just fine. I’m not saying to just ignore it if it is something your child has developed but just don’t freak out too much about it if the doctors don’t have a “WHY” they do it. That’s just my two cents on it. Thanks 🙂
Mama in the Now says
Thank you for sharing your story of encouragement, Chrissy.
Hi guys, Im a speech therapist and when Im in alone I am a toe walker!
On am super glad I came across this post! My son is almost 6 and refuses to walk on his feet. He will toe walk even in high top shoes. Will definitely be talking to the Dr at our next visit.
Mama in the Now says
I am also glad you found my post! Please keep me posted! Good luck.
Aspies toe walk. Most stop at some point. Just like Asperger’s itaelf – no biggie.
I have a 15 year old who still does it and its never been anything anyone has worried about. She doesn’t have any problems. I do have a 16 year old who is artistic but does not walk on her toes so I really don’t believe that it’s a sign of anything negative necessarily.