28 answers

Seeking Help with a Child That Walks on His Tip-toes

I have a seven year old son that walks on his tip-toes. I need some advice from anyone that has a child that does and what did you do to help correct the problem. He's having
trouble with balancing now. He's been doing this for sometime. I thought he would grow out of it but he hasn't. Any help. For information purposes, we have had all the neurological examinations and testing done. Concluded it's a habit. He doesn't have autism or any other developmental problems. He's s very smart, active and gifted child.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

The only way I could get my son to stop walking on his toes was hard bottom shoes. As soon as he got out of bed he was dressed and his shoes on. They can not bend like tennis shoes do they have to stay stiff. Good Luck

I taught a girl who's tendons at the back of her ankle weren't long enough. She didn't have a problem at ages 1-4 but then she grew taller... That is when the problem started. Get some tests done by an OT.

I walked on my tip toes as a child. My mother had hoped I would grow up to be a ballerina--no such luck. I eventually outgrew it.

More Answers

Toe walking is not unusual in younger children who are just beginning to walk and otherwise growing and developing normally. However, toe walking after age 3 years should be evaluated by a doctor.

In many cases, toe walking in older children is simply a habit and not a sign of an underlying problem. Doctors refer to this as idiopathic toe walking. But toe walking accompanied by other signs and symptoms may be due to a serious underlying condition, such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Talk to your doctor about your child's toe walking. Your doctor may recommend an evaluation, including a neurological examination and testing for language and other developmental delays. If the results of these exams are normal, your child won't need treatment and will most likely outgrow the toe-walking habit.

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1 mom found this helpful

I agree that the toe walking should be evaluated. However, I would request a referral to an Occupational Therapist or even a Physical Therapist to have them assess your child.

I have personal experience as a toe walker and with a toe walker. I was a toe walker for many years before out growing it. I never underwent any evaluations when I was younger though. Fast forward to when I had my first child. Our son was 24 months old and I took him for a development screeing that was offered by the Army. The therapist noted and commented about his toe walking and recommended that I seek further evaluation for this. She commented that overall his development seemed fine but the toe walking was a huge concern of hers. Well, being that I was a toe walker, I dismissed her concerns and never had an evaluation. When my son started kindergarten he had some mild developmental delays that were though to be an age thing. It wasn't until first grade that he was having the same delays and he was evaluated by the school OT. The testing came back where he had some mild delays with bilateral coordination and hypotonia as well as sensory issues. The sensory integration diagnosis helped to explain a lot with my child's behavior. OT has helped him with his delays and still continues to help him with his sensory integration, as well as provide a resource for me to better help him and his teachers.

1 mom found this helpful

Is the one that is tippy toing, 7 yrs old?
My sister was told that her son may be autistic and that was one of the signs, however, that is only a minor sign... there are many others and if your son is 7 you would surely know that by now.
Another suggestion is that you said you did all the neurological tests and they were fine.... have you thought about maybe he has a muscle in his leg that is tight and not allowing him to walk flat foot? Try stretching out his calf muscle by doing some stretcing exercises and stretch is ham string out and then massage it for him and then stretch it out again.... then sit back and observe how he is walking after you do all of that.
It could possibly be habbit.
The only other thing that I would know to tell you is get some really tight, stiff shoes.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi G., I have a four-year-old daughter that has been in physical therapy with a pediatric therapist for over a year for toe walking. I thought her toe-walking was cute, just soemthing special that she did, until I heard about a 9-year-old boy (I grew up going to church with his mother) who was having surgery on his legs for the same problem. The muscles in the backs of his legs were so tight they had to cut them. I'm not sure what the other details were. I immediately made an appointment with our pediatrician and she said that yes, it is serious -- not life-threatening, but something that you really do need to clear up because it has implications down the road --- like the balance issue that you mentioned, as well as hip and knee problems when they're older. It also affects the way they stand, run, etc. My daughter's calf muscles were so tight and developed that it was obvious to our pediatrician that she was toe-walking. She said it's not awful, but it is something that you want to correct. (Our daughter is happy, energetic and otherwise perfectly happy).

My recommendations are to go to a pediatric therapist if you can, because he'll more than likely be going for a while -- maybe once or twice a month, maybe even once a week for a while -- so it's helpful that the therapy is geared toward a child and presented in the form of games. Some exercises you can do at home are to have him walk on his heels -- we say "lets walk on our teddy bear heels" -- for a while like its a game. Or, the two of you can walk backward in the yard. Or, you can have him stand on a three-ring binder, with his toes and the ball of his foot at the thicker end, while he's doing something like coloring or play-doh at the table. Try having him stand on one foot without touching the other foot to the floor. At therapy, they had my daughter do exercises that addressed flexibility, which was her bigger issue, as well as balance. They'll measure the "range" of his foot each visit so they can chart his progress. There are things they can try, as well, like taping their foot or putting fillers in their shoes or trying special shoes.

Therapy helped our daughter a lot -- and we never called it therapy. We called it "play school," since my older daughter was in "preschool" at the time. Her "range" improved a lot and we met our goals just before Christmas, and then I enrolled her in a gymnastics class to further help her flexibility. She loves it, and it has helped her flexibility so much. Now she's doing somersaults and lately she's been able to walk down the stairs from one step to another, like we all do normally. I never noticed it until a therapist pointed it out, but before therapy, she would get both feet on a step, then move to the next step, putting both feet on that step, before moving on (like younger children do). We still go back to the therapist periodically to have her range measured. The therapist said that sometimes during growth spurts their muscles tighten and they revert back to toe walking.

As for the cause of toe walking in otherwise healthy children, I've been told by several doctors and therapists as well as research I found on the Internet that they don't really know why some children walk on their toes. One therapist asked me if she had spent much time in a walker or a saucer when she was a baby, which she didn't. She said that sometimes if the walker or saucer -- which she said therapists don't recomend -- is positioned to high off the ground, the child can only touch it on their toes and that gets the habit started.

This is probably more than you wanted or needed....Good luck to you and your son.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello, G.~

This has been on my heart for several days, and I have to respond to you.

You absolutely need to have this child tested for Muscular Dystrophy. If they say they have done it, ask them to rerun the test. He is showing classic symptoms of the disease. The earlier it is diagnosed, the more you can do for him. PLEASE do not wait.

My family has Dushenne's Dystrophy, which means it is carried from the mom and passed to the son. there are many other forms of the disease. I was blessed that my son did not have it, but have had plenty of cousins and uncles who did. Check out the MDA website for more information. They have come a long way in medicine for helping these patients.

Please let me know what you find out. God bless.


I walked on my tip toes as a child. My mother had hoped I would grow up to be a ballerina--no such luck. I eventually outgrew it.


My brother was and still is a toe walker. He even runs on his toes. He is now 22 years old and he still walks on his toes. He has played all sports through school and never had any issues. He has great leg and calf muscles because of it too. I don't see any issue with it at all.


I just want to throw one other possibility out there. Everybody has given you great advice and one or more of them might be right.

But I went to a talk many years ago by Kelly Dorfman where she said toe walking could be a sign of an essential fatty acid deficiency.

What luck, I found someone's notes to that talk online:


Here is the part I was talking about:

She talked about essential fatty acid deficiency, some symptoms of which are: wax buildup in ears, restlessness, "permanent gooseflesh", "Albert Einstein
hair", toe walking, and excessive thirst. She recommends Total EFA by Health From the Sun, flaxseed oil, and Efalex Focus as replacements for the missing fatty acids. She says they rancidify quickly, so we should taste them every
other week to be sure they are still good.

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