Is It Normal for Toddlers to Walk On Their Toes? – Shoe Recommendations From a Shoe Fitter

I work for a specialized children’s shoe store where we provide regular shoe fittings but also focus on helping families of children with foot conditions. I have noticed throughout the years that toe walking isn’t unusual in toddlers who are learning how to walk. Typically, children begin walking at around 12 months of age, and some may initially walk on their toes. This can be part of exploring movement and balance. However, you must watch closely how this behavior progresses over time.

You won’t believe the number of families who contact me concerned about their child’s toe walking tendencies. Many of these families are concerned because their medical professionals brush them off saying the child will simply outgrow the condition. While this is true for many children, many others continue toe walking into their teenage years.

When parents notice their toddler frequently walking on their toes, intervening sooner rather than later can be crucial. It’s not just about correcting a walking pattern; it’s about considering preventing future complications that as the child gets older will be a lot harder to manage.

Do You Know the Reason Why Your Toddler Toe Walks?

There may be a variety of reasons, ranging from sensory processing preferences to neuromuscular or neurological conditions. If your medical professional doesn’t know the reason why your child toe walks then it’s diagnosed as idiopathic.

When Is It Time to Worry?

If your child is 3 years old or older and continues to walk on their toes beyond this point, parents may want to consult a pediatric orthopedic specialist. We get referrals from medical professionals to fit toddlers who walk on their toes in shoes that are rigid at the front instead of overly flexible, to help discourage toe walking. I will expand on this shortly.

Whichever reason might be causing your toddler to toe walk, I strongly recommend to intervene early, as that is key to preventing long-term issues. Be proactive and don’t let this condition get harder to manage!

The Complications of Persistent Toe Walking

Persistent toe walking can affect your child’s walking gait and posture as they grow. This could lead to muscular imbalances and may require physical therapy or medical intervention to correct. Toe walking can cause stiffness in the Achilles tendon, tightened muscles and tendons. Early detection and treatment can mitigate these risks.


If proactive strategies are effective, there might be no need for interventions like surgery or casting. These methods are typically seen as last resorts and could come with their own set of challenges.

Can Shoes Help Prevent Toe Walking?

Definitely. Don’t underestimate the power of proper footwear. I am passionate about fitting children’s shoes as I truly believe that the correct type 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.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Ideal to Help Treat Toe Walking?

You might find that some of the features I recommend contradict what most people recommend toddler shoes should provide, but trust me that these features can work wonders to help prevent toe walking:

1️⃣ Avoid shoes that are too flexible: Your toddler’s shoes should be rigid at the front instead of overly flexible. This will make it harder for your toddler to get on his or her toes. I want to clarify that his feature doesn’t mean that the shoes should be heavy. The shoes should be lightweight but rigid at the front instead of overly flexible.

The first image shows a toddler shoe that is too flexible:

The second image shows one of the toddler shoes that I recommend that is rigid at the front:


2️⃣ Find Shoes with a Stable Base of Support: Some toddlers raise on their toes to help improve their poor balance and coordination. Shoes that provide a stable base of support can help put your child’s feet in a more stable position and improve your child’s balance and stability.

The first image shows a toddler shoe that doesn’t have the correct structure:


The second image shows one of the toddler shoes that I recommend that provides a stable base of support:

The Importance of Wearing the Correct Shoe Size

Getting the size right can’t be stressed enough. A shoe that’s too small or too large can alter your child’s gait and may exacerbate toe walking tendencies. The most important thing is that you don’t attempt to leave too much growing room in your toddlers’ shoes as this will actually make it easier for them to go on their toes.

Many medical professionals get frustrated when they see a child wearing the correct pair of shoes but in the wrong size. For this reason, I created a free virtual fitting consultation to ensure you order the correct shoe size for your child.

Does Your Toddler Need High Top Shoes?

Not necessarily. I have noticed that a lot of medical professionals prefer high-top shoes over regular sneakers, but in reality, there is not much difference between these two. High top shoes can be effective as long as they provide the stable base of support and are rigid at the front instead of overly flexible.

My Top Shoe Recommendations to Help Prevent Toe Walking

Please note that how effective these shoes will be for your toddler directly depends on the degree of your toddler’s foot condition. The reality also is that what works really well for some toddlers might not work as well for others. 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. 

Would You Rather Receive Specific Shoe Recommendations for Your Toddler?

You can either contact me via email or through the comments section below. It would be helpful to know if you have been told by your medical professional whether your child’s toe walking is due to a neurological or neuromuscular condition, and whether your child has flat feet or not.

Families Testimonials – Find Out What Other Families Have to Say


Can Orthotics Help Prevent Toe Walking?

The correct type of orthotics can definitely be part of the solution. This is something that your pediatric podiatrist or physical therapist should be able to recommend, but in my experience, carbon fiber orthotics can be extremely helpful in preventing toe walking. There is also an orthotic made by littleSTEPS that has proven to be really effective to prevent toe walking.

Orthotics can provide additional arch support, encourage proper heel-to-toe movement, and potentially help in retraining the foot muscles for children who persistently toe walk.

Best Shoes for Toddlers Who Walk On Their Toes – Watch Video!

This video covers everything that we went through in the article and it will also help you visualize what features the shoes must provide to help treat toe walking.

In summary, is quite normal for toddlers to toe walk occasionally, especially when they’re learning to walk. The situation usually corrects itself as walking skills improve. However, consistent toe walking should be monitored—as it can lead to further complications.

I also suggest looking into physical therapy, which has been shown to improve toe walking by strengthening muscles and encouraging proper gait.