Many children walk on their toes when first standing and cruising. This is a skill that they need to be able to do as they develop, but sometimes it becomes too dominant in their walking and standing posture. Remember, some toe walking is okay, but persistent toe walking can indicate a need for intervention. One of the quick fixes for this is to put your child in high-top shoes to help keep the heel down. If your child has high muscle tone, this quick fix will probably not be enough. Bracing is often needed for this, but not always.
Quick checks to correct or find a reason for this problem:
1.) Did your child recently change to a new or different pair of shoes? Does your child need a new pair of shoes?
Sometimes new shoes feel awkward or don’t fit correctly. It is very important that your child’s foot is well supported but also not uncomfortable. Check to see if your child walks well in and out of shoes and in and out of socks. If you see identical behavior in all of these instances, then the feet need to be checked by a physical therapist.
2.) Does your child have sensory issues in any other areas, such as your child doesn’t like her hands touched, hates dressing or undressing, and/or hates baths? If you suspect sensory involvement, this could be related to your child’s toe walking. If you are unsure what that is, you can ask your pediatrician for an occupational therapist to evaluate your child for possible problems and solutions.
3.) Does your child point his or her toes when sitting?
Sometimes this can lead to tight calf muscles, which leads to toe walking. There can be many reasons for tight heel cords, so please have your child evaluated by a physical therapist.
4.) Has your child been toe walking since beginning to walk, or is this recent?
Sudden changes in behavior can sometimes be as simple as a new pair of shoes or something more involved, and you are right to be concerned. To determine if intervention is needed, have your child checked by your pediatrician or physical therapist.
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully, this will help you understand that there can be many reasons for toe walking. By the way, toe walking is normal and expected as part of development in the toddler years but should not dominate their play. Many children toe walk when beginning to walk and then gradually move into a more mature gait pattern.
The following study found that toe walking was related to slow language development.