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My child walks on their tip-toes

Does your child walk on their tip toes?  This is what is known as toe-walking.

Firstly, don’t panic, it fairly common in children who are just beginning to walk.  Normal heel to toe walking usually develops by approximately the age of 2 years.

Toe-walking

The most common type of toe-walking is described as idiopathic toe-walking (no known cause).  Most children who develop idiopathic toe walking will eventually develop a normal heel-toe gait.  However, if it does not resolve spontaneously, it may have become habitual for your child to walk like this.  Try encouraging your child to walk by putting the heel down first and use stretching exercises (see picture below) to lengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

If these conservative measures fail, then either serial casting or surgical intervention may be necessary to lengthen the Achilles tendon (this is used very rarely).

In rarer cases, toe-walking can be one of the symptoms of cerebral palsy or a developmental disorder, such as autism.  It is therefore important to keep an eye on the condition, and consult your GP, if your child continues to persistently toe walk past the age of 3, or if you notice any other associated changes (such as developmental delay).