Lots of toddlers walk only on their tip-toes for a while and, like thumb-sucking or comfort blankets, most will simply grow out of it. There are, however, certain factors to look out for as the condition may indicate another, more serious problem which could need specialist attention.
Tip-toe walking means your child is only using the balls of the feet, and that the heel is not really coming into contact with the ground. For most kids this lasts 2-3 months while they learn to walk (at between 10 and 18 months) and once they’ve got the hang of taking proper steps their gait will be completely normal.
If tip-toe walking lasts longer than three months however, or if your child is still doing it after the age of three, there’s a danger that the calf muscles and general posture will be damaged. A pair of firm boots which cover the ankle will help him or her take normal steps, and so will ‘training’ sessions where you concentrate on waking together. If this doesn’t work your doctor or physiotherapist will be able to recommend special stretching exercises designed to loosen the Achilles tendon and other ankle muscles, tightness in which can cause tip-toe walking, and if there’s a more serious physical problem your doctor may suggest the temporary use of a brace.
In rare cases however, tip-toe walking can be one of the symptoms (alongside a more general difficulty in performing fiddly tasks) of mild cerebral palsy or a developmental disorder such as autism, so it’s important to keep an eye on the condition and let your doctor know about any associated changes. In most cases however, particularly with a bit of gentle parental help, tip-toe walking is a phase that will pass and will leave no lasting damage.
Comments and Questions
You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.
The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.