27 answers

Tip Toe Walker

My son has been walking on his tip toes since his first steps and it is becoming more and more frequent. I never even thought of it as a problem and just decided to look it up today. A lot of what I have found online deals with learning and neurological disorders. He is so smart and clever, though! Does anyone have any experience or advice on this topic?

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Thank you to everyone who responded to my concern. It is such a great feeling knowing that there are caring people out there in our community! We have a doctor's appointment on wednesday!! Thanks again!

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buy high top walker shoes and keep them on him even at the house it will prevent him from the tip toe and make him walk with his feet flat. Most babies start out tip toe walking and will out grow it this just helps it along and trains them younger.

I have a pediatric therapy clinic, so we see everything!
This could be NOTHING! Or it could be extremely serious. Some kids toe walk because they are sensitive to the feeling of the ground under their feet. And some kids toe walk because the muscles in their legs aren't growing while the bones are, so they must toe walk. There is just no way to know unless you ask his pediatrician.

N., I completely understand the concern you must feel, as my ds does the same thing and is around the same age. He is built like my hubby and recently his family told me he did the same thing when he was young. My dh is one of the smartest most incredible people I know, so I am no longer concerned. I just tell my son to walk on his feet when he does it and he'll usually go back down to his feet. Try no to fret over it. It sounds like you have nothing to be concerned about.

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My daughter was a tip toe walker. My husband was constantly worried about it and I laughed it off saying it was just the way she liked to walk. I walked on my knees for several months, and turned out fine, so I figured it was nothing.

About six months into the tip toe walking (I should say into the time when my husband expressed most of his concern about it continuing, since she always walked on her tip toes), my daughter started limping. We took her to the pediatrician and he said she probably sprained her ankle. It continued to get worse to the point where she wouldn't walk at all. The pediatrician said she was probably just overusing the ankle that wasn't sprained. Whenever she was home, she wouldn't walk, but at the doctor's office, she'd get up and limp, so he thought she was fine. He told us to just keep an eye on it.

Two weeks later, my daughter started running a 104 temperature and became completely rigid. She didn't want to be held or touched. She also started vomiting. We took her to the ER and they quarantined her for four days (thinking she had some strange virus) and ran all sorts of tests. They concluded it might be juvenile arthritis. My daughter was 22 months old.

We were referred to Scottish Rite Hospital and they confirmed it was JA. They had my daughter crawl on the floor and pointed out that her left wrist had lost all range of motion - something we never noticed because she's right-handed and had been compensating with her right wrist to carry stuff, etc. We also had no idea that kids got arthritis. Also, I had thought her knees looked very fat, but the pediatrician said it was baby fat and would eventually slim down. Nope - it was the inflammation from the arthritis attacking her joints.

Juvenile Arthritis is pretty rare, but it does seem to emerge around 2-3 years old and again around 10-13. It affects more girls than boys, but boys do get it. It also doesn't have to present itself like my daughter's case. Every case seems to be different. My daughter's arthritis seems to be triggered by stomach viruses. Her body tries to attack the stomach virus and then goes overboard and starts attacking itself, which presents as inflammation in her joints.

While the chances of your son having JA are slim, I write all this to say that you should have the tip toe walking checked out and keep an eye on it just in case it is more than just a preferred way of walking for now. I wish we had pursued my daughter's tip toeing sooner to avoid the damage she has to some of her joints.

Also, most pediatricians won't know anything about JA, so unless there is an extreme case (like my daughter's ER trip), most kids don't get a real diagnosis for years. So if you take your son to the pediatrician and he/she thinks it's nothing, if you notice any signs of JA, you should press your pediatrician for further testing.

JA usually presents itself in larger joints - knees, ankles, wrists, but can also show up in fingers, toes, etc. If you notice your son has limited range of motion with his wrists, knees, ankles, fingers, toes, or his joints seem hot to the touch or swollen (this isn't always constant - it can come and go), ask to be referred to a pediatric rheumatologist just to get it ruled out. There are only a couple in Dallas and it can take months to get in to see one.

Hopefully it's nothing to worry about with your son, but I wanted to share my experience with the tip toe walking as a parent who thought it was nothing to worry about and now regrets not pursuing it further.

1 mom found this helpful

Ok My daughter did and still does walk on her tip toes at that age. I have ask the Dr about it and he says alot of kids to it. Its perfectly normal!!! I think they just want to be a little taller. Remember we are gaints to them and when they stand they feel so small.

I only read the last few responses you received and i do see your update and you have an appointment. that's good. I think it's great to go to the doctor b/c unless you do you can't know if there is a problem. Someone mentioned and I was going to mention scottish rite hospital. my two year old son did the same thing yours is doing so the doc sent us there and they are SO great there! they don't charge you either! anyway, it's a simple trip out there, very nice doc, and he said the same thing one of your responses said their pediatrician said---if he COULD walk flat but was choosing not to then he was fine. however, dont' make that diagnosis on your own. go to the doctor even if it's your pediatrician. I was probably in teh same boat when i was a little kid...my granny often told me i was supposed to have braces but didn't...well, i had a not server but still very irritating and often painful tight cord in my leg that made walking hard, especially when i was getting heavier after high school---made it feel like the bone in my leg was about to pop out of my skin! and all it was was a tight tendon or something. anyway, perhaps that wouldn't have been my fate if i'd had those braces. who knows. i'm fine but not always comfortable. I hope yourson is like mine and will out grow the habit or whatever it is. he's a perfect seven year old now with no problem.

Tip toe walking is not normal development. It should be looked into and addressed by a pediatric doctor or by a physiotherapist. Putting them into high top boots without other intervention is not sufficient. The child will not have enough range of motion to walk properly and will end up skipping - you think "oh my son is so happy he is skipping" reality is that he is skipping because he does not have enough planter flexion (ability to bend his foot up) to have a proper walking gait. If left unattended it will effect their ability to engage in sports and will put added strain on other parts of the muscular skeletal system.

N., I completely understand the concern you must feel, as my ds does the same thing and is around the same age. He is built like my hubby and recently his family told me he did the same thing when he was young. My dh is one of the smartest most incredible people I know, so I am no longer concerned. I just tell my son to walk on his feet when he does it and he'll usually go back down to his feet. Try no to fret over it. It sounds like you have nothing to be concerned about.

N.,
My daughter who is now 26 has and will always be a tip toe walker. She is married and a PISD Team Leader teacher.
She is just perfect and has great calves.
Please check with your pediatrician if you are concerned or an orthopedic to get peace of mind.
Don't let it wear you down.
M.
Mother of 3 girls and
Owner of Aqua~Fit Swim School and Wellness Center

My almost two year old walks on his tip toes too! I haven't noticed anything wrong with his development either! He is a very smart boy and learns very quickly. I wouldn't worry about this at all! Just ask the doctor the next time you are there! My husband used to walk on his tip toes too and never had any problems either! Go with your gut, if you feel there is need to be worried, then you are right to ask questions! HTH!

tip-toe walking is a red flag for autism spectrum; you've probably come across that in your research. (autistic children are typically extremely smart!) how old is he? does he have any other odd behaviors? run over to http://www.generationrescue.org and look at their list of what to check as red flags. my son is autistic and i've been down the road of trying to figure out what's going on with him. he's never been a toe walker, but had other odd behaviors that i dismissed for months, thinking it was just his personality, but when he stopped eye contact and didn't respond to us, i had a friend lovingly and bravely approach me about the possibility, and i thank God for her because i had no clue about autism and i've no idea how long he would have gone w/o help had she not spoken up.

I walked on my toes as a child, (and still sometimes do). My parents were told I had a short muscle in my calf and that I needed to stretch it. Mine was not serious and they figured that out by asking me to stand with my feet flat on the floor and together. Since I could do that, they just said it was easier for me to walk on my toes, and so I did. See if he can put his feet flat. If so, just try to do stretching with him to see if that helps.

My neighbor had the same problem with her son. They ended up taking him to a orthopedist. They said that one of the bones in his ankle was too short. They had to do surgery, to fix it. That was 3-4yrs ago, and now you cant even tell that he ever walked on his toes.

I have a pediatric therapy clinic, so we see everything!
This could be NOTHING! Or it could be extremely serious. Some kids toe walk because they are sensitive to the feeling of the ground under their feet. And some kids toe walk because the muscles in their legs aren't growing while the bones are, so they must toe walk. There is just no way to know unless you ask his pediatrician.

I'm 30 and still a toe walker. I've done it since I learned how to walk. Both my girls are toe walkers too. There is nothing wrong with any of us. I don't do it all the time. I notice I do it more, when the floor is close, or I don't like the texture of something I'm walking on. If I have shoes or socks on, I don't do it at all. My girls are doing it less and less. My pedi did notice that one of my daughter was doing it at an apointment. Only thing she said was to try to get her to stop, cause it tightens up that ligament and can cause problems later in life. She just told me, that when I notice her toe walking, to tell her to stop and walk normal. Most people grow out of it. OH and my Aunt does it too. I wouldn't worry about it!!

i would talk to his doctor and ask him. my dd walks on her toes sometimes. my doctor wanted to know if she ran on her toes, apparently if they run on their toes it is a bigger problem. talk to your doctor.

Have you tried asking his pediatrician about it? Sometimes there are disorders that involve toe-walking and neurological disorders but there are a lot of just orthopedic conditions that involve toe-walking and no neurological problems. You might try talking to you pediatician first and see how he/she feels. If it continues and you feel its an issue that won't resolve on its own you can go to an pediatric orthopedist for another opinion.

Be careful about what you find on the internet. My advice would be to ask your pediatrician at your next well visit. They check your childs developement at each well visit and see a ton of kids. So I am sure they have seen a high percentage of kids that are tip toe walkers and developed just fine. The physician would be able to address your concern based on knowing your child's development. Good luck!

buy high top walker shoes and keep them on him even at the house it will prevent him from the tip toe and make him walk with his feet flat. Most babies start out tip toe walking and will out grow it this just helps it along and trains them younger.

N. lots of children walk on there tip toes but you can massage, flex & exercise his feet several times a day & he will get better faster. Good Luck & God Bless.

I have a brilliant! 4 year old that is a tip-toe walker. He also has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). He walks on his toes because the sensation of the floor on his feet is too sensitive. He claws at his back and neck when his clothes have tags. He has sleep disturbances, like walking and talking in his sleep. He's a normal boy, but extra sensitive to sensations, especially tactile and aural stimulation. They also happens to be the ways he learns best.

Prolonged tip toe walking does warrant a trip to the neurologist, but don't fret. Your smart little boy will still remain brilliant and "normal" even if you discover the underlying reason for tip toe walking means that he has some idiosyncrasies. We still love our son just the same. ;-)

I am so sorry you have been scared by answers on the internet. I was a tip-toe walker as a child - no learning or neurological disorders what so ever (or at least I think so ;) ). I did however atrophy my achilles tendon and had to seek medical support. I was put in casts to stretch out the tendon and they were changed out every few weeks or so until the tendon was stretched out enough for normal use. My parents were told I would never really be able to run. The doctors were completely wrong and I went on to run track in high school and college.

Now, BOTH of my little girls walk on their toes. My four year old does it about 90% of the time. My pediatrician keeps telling me just to keep an eye on it and that at some point we might want to start physical therapy.

I hope this eases your worries some! You can start saying what I say a few times a day, "Heels down!"

Good luck!

Being a toe walker does not mean he has a neurological problem, it is just that toe walking is frequent symptom of kids with problems, but one of many symptoms. Talk to your pediatrician. They may just send you to a physical therapist for a bit to work it out.

I'd check with his doctor. It's more than likely nothing but you don't want him to keep doing it as he gets older because his tendons can get to the point where they don't stretch properly. Kind of like someone who has only worn heels for the majority of their adult lives. It could also be that he doesn't like the texture of tile/carpet etc. Does he do it when he's wearing shoes or slippers? It might help to just keep him in soft soled shoes all the time.

At your next well baby visit, ask your dr. Our almost five year old still tip toes, but the dr is not worried about it at all.

The only thing that has helped us was taking her to her sisters Kindergarten teacher, who little sister loves and cant wait to be in her class, and have her tell her "in KN we walk heel toe heel toe, I need you to practice that before you get here ok." So now anytime we see her tip toeing, we simply say practice and she goes back to heel toe. This worked immediatly after years of Mommy Daddy Grandma Grandpa aunts uncles and best friends have all said the same thing. Teachers can be great!

Hi N.,
My friends daughter does this and she has a sensory integration disorder a mild form of autism. She is 9 and still does it though. Just watch for any other unusual symptoms and just keep doing research on line. If you are really concerned speak to your pediatrician on his next visit. Good luck to you! Blessings!

I didn't read all of your responses but I wanted to help ease your mind. I have 2 children and they are (or were) both toe walkers. My son walked on his toes a LOT when he was little, he was even doing it up until he went to kindergarten. In fact, he still did it through kindergarten and part of 1st grade, but only when excited. His pediatrician reassured me often that he was fine, as long as he could physically walk flat footed, but was just chossing to toe walk, and he could do both so no worries. Many "friends" told me I should be concerned but I chose to believe my pediatrician. My son is super smart. Straight A's in all of 1st and 2nd grade, and an avid reader/learner. So, I wouldn't worry about all that. If he got to where he physically couldn't put his feet flat to walk then I'd have concerns. By the way, my almost 3 year old daughter is following in his foot steps and she has become quite the toe walker in the last few months (she never saw him do this either). She is also very bright and verbal to the point where people are confused by her because she is tiny for her age, but verbally advanced. So again, I say don't worry.
J.

You got a lot of responses that I don't have time to read so I apologize if this is repedative! My daughter just turned 7 and has been a constant tip-toe walker! Her doctor ruled out that it was anything neurological, and said she had extremely tight achilles tendons. He referred us to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas(which is competely free of charge). She has been evalutated every year from about 2 or 3 on. We've always been told the same thing: Since they don't do braces anymore they can try physical therapy but it takes a year and at least for my daughter's situation most likely wouldn't help, there is botox injections or they can do surgery. We kept hoping she would outgrow it but shows no signs of any improvement. So we have opted to do the surgery. They just put 2 very small incisions on each side of her achilles tendon and then stretch it and put casts on for six weeks and some minor therapy once she's done and it cures toe walking like 95% of the time. My husband had a hard time agreeing to the surgery, but after 5 seasons of soccer I see it is hindering her greatly. Her balance is off, and her foot form to kick the ball is off and she fatigues easily. Its better to get the surgery sooner rather than later!! So its scheduled for August!

How are his bowel habits? I have an autistic son and many autistic kids walk on their toes. There are those who beleive that this is commonly related to the constipation also suffered by many autistic kids. Your child doesn't seem to have neurological problems but do make sure he is having at least one formed, chestnut brown stool per day. Magnesium and vitamin C can help get the bowels moving if there is a problem. The others have given you good information too.

My 11 year old daughter walked on her tip toes until she was about 6. She finally stopped on her own and has had no issues at all. I also have a niece that still walks on her tip toes, she is 12 and she is fine. The only thing I have noticed as a result of this is they both have awsome calf muscles.

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