Best Orthopedic Shoes for Toe Walking Children
Do you have a child who has been diagnosed with idiopathic toe walking and your medical professional recommends buying a pair of orthopedic shoes? Maybe your medical professional told you that your child’s toe walking will “resolve on its own” and it’s you the one who wants to be proactive and take early action? Toe walking might lead to stiff muscles (tight calf muscles in particular) and toe walking can compromise your child’s stability, making your child more prone to falling. I have put together a list of the best orthopedic shoes for toe walking children that can help prevent them from getting on their toes and promote the habit of walking the correct way: heel to toe.
Toe walking is completely normal under the age of two. When children are learning how to walk, they like to try different foot postures. Children are more likely to toe walk when they are cruising and holding onto furniture.
If your child continues to toe walk after the age of two, then I suggest seeking medical advice. I don’t mean to alarm you, but when it comes to treating toe walking and other children’s foot conditions, the earlier you take action, the better.
I always remember something that a podiatrist told me when I first started fitting children’s shoes: It’s important to be proactive with children and their treatment since the first 7 years of their life are “golden years of treatment opportunity”. During these 7 years permanent structural changes of the foot and lower extremity may be relatively easy to obtain with treatments such as orthotics, supportive shoes, and therapeutic exercises.
I am passionate about fitting children’s shoes as I truly believe that the correct types of shoes can be life-changing. Children’s feet are constantly developing, and what happens to their feet during their childhood will affect their physique as they grow older.
Pro Tip: If you’re pressed for time here is a list of the best orthopedic shoes for toe walking children.
Can Orthopedic Shoes Help Prevent Toe Walking?
That depends on a case to cases basis. A lot of families have had a lot of success fitting children in orthopedic shoes, but it’s not a total guarantee. It ultimately depends on the degree of your child’s underlying condition.
That being said, I have seen how the correct type of orthopedic shoes can be life-changing to certain children.
Let me share some feedback from families who already tried a pair of the orthopedic shoes that I recommend and had great success with them. However, please remember that how effective orthopedic shoes will be for your child directly depends on the degree of your child’s condition.
Do You Know the Reason Why Your Child Toe Walks?
I have noticed that when the child’s medical professional is not able to determine the reason why the child toe walks, it is diagnosed as “idiopathic”. This means that the exact cause is not known and the child continues to toe walk because he or she has a preference to do so.
Several physical and occupational therapists who refer children to the shoe store that I work for told me the 4 most common reasons why children toe walk:
1️⃣ Flat Feet: Children with flat feet have poor balance and coordination. To combat this, children might raise on the toes to put the foot in a more stable position. Toe walking enhances the arch which creates a more stable foot (base) and temporarily improves the child’s balance and stability.
2️⃣ Short Achilles tendon: A short Achilles tendon can prevent your child’s heels from touching the ground.
3️⃣ Sensory perceptions: Check the surface your child is walking on. Maybe the child doesn’t like the feeling of the cold tile or furry carpet and this exaggerates the symptoms.
4️⃣ Vision impairments: This can be screened in a vision clinic and given a referral if there are additional concerns.
What Makes the Orthopedic Shoes that I Recommend Ideal to Prevent Toe walking?
1️⃣ Thermoplastic asymmetric stiff heel counter helps stabilize the child’s foot
The shoes come with a firm heel counter that helps keep the foot in the right position. Another additional feature is that the heel is padded with a soft lining of natural leather, which helps increase comfort and prevents the formation of blisters.
2️⃣ Thomas heel for prevention of flat foot
This feature helps distribute the shock load on the foot when walking and running as well as to prevent the foot from collapsing and turning inwards.
3️⃣ Rigid front
The shoes I recommend are rigid at the front (less flexible), which helps prevent children from getting on their toes.
Can these Orthopedic Shoes Replace Your Kids’ SMOs or AFOs?
This is a question for your medical professional. However, many families have tried these shoes as their children refuse to wear their SMOs and AFOs (manly due to discomfort), and they had good success with them.
Can These Orthopedic Shoes Accommodate Your Child’s Foot Shape?
This is really important to consider as if the shoes don’t fit the shape of your child’s feet correctly, your child won’t get the full benefits that the shoes have to offer and you will be basically throwing your money away.
The shoes that I recommend below can fit children with narrow, medium or wide feet, but they won’t fit children with extra wide feet.
Best Orthopedic Shoes for Toe Walking Children
Take a look at the description below each shoe to find out all of the features that it provides and the shoe size that you should order to provide your child with the correct amount of growing room. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. This allows us to create free content and resources for many families around the world.
Read This Before Ordering the Shoes: How to Get the Correct Shoe Size
Most families are tempted to buy their children’s shoes on the bigger side so they can wear them longer. However, if you get your kids’ shoes too big, you will make it easier for your child to get on his or her toes.
To order the correct shoe size online, you must first know your child’s foot length and shape. It’s a good idea to order your kids’ shoes in two different sizes just to be on the safer side, but you probably don’t want to order the shoes in multiple sizes hoping once size will fit.
If you have a specialized children’s shoe store in your area I strongly suggest that you take your child there to figure out his or her foot size. If you don’t have a store close by, you can use a great resource that will help you retrieve your child’s exact foot shape and length from home.
Don’t underestimate the importance of fitting your child in the correct shoe size. Some families saw an immediate difference as soon as they fitted the child in the correct shoe size.
What Are the Best Shoe Alternatives to Orthopedic Shoes?
Orthopedic shoes retail anywhere from $80 to $125, and I am well aware that not all families can invest in a pair of orthopedic shoes for a growing child. For that reason, I created a different resource that describes the best regular sneakers for children who toe walk.
Are There Any Other Shoe Choices Available for Toe Walking Children?
Do not hesitate to contact me via the comment section below or directly at my e-mail if you are looking for a different pair of shoes to help treat and prevent your child’s toe walking. My e-mail address is:
I know it can be extremely frustrating for parents to watch their children toe walk and have it dismissed, ignored, or underrated by many healthcare provides. My final piece of advise is to not let your medical professional brush off your child’s toe walking by saying he/she will eventually grow out of it. I know you are worried and want to find a solution, so get a second or even a third opinion if necessary from someone who knows children’s feet.
Let me know in the comments section below if you have already tried a pair of orthopedic shoes for your child and how they worked out!