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Toddler with Low Muscle Tone – The Best Shoe Styles to Improve the Way Your Child Walks

shoes-for-toddler-with-low-muscle-tone

Has your physical or occupational therapist diagnosed your toddler with low muscle tone?

Low muscle tone is used to describe muscles that are floppy. Toddlers with low muscle tone may need to put in more effort to get their muscles moving properly when they are performing a particular activity.

Your toddler might have been diagnosed with low muscle tone for any of the following reasons:

  • Your toddler muscles might appear to be less firm than usual.
  • Your toddler appears to be floppy and to have loose joints.

One thing that physical and occupational therapists recommend for a toddler with low muscle tone is wearing supportive shoes with substantial outsoles and firm heel counters, and in certain cases, orthotics as well.

My Experience Helping Toddlers with Low Muscle Tone

I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for over 10 years, and we help families who are referred by physical and occupational therapists who want those children in supportive shoes and orthotics. We specialize in helping children with foot and leg problems, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well.

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I will show you which are the best shoes for a toddler with low muscle tone, but let’s first try to identify what foot conditions your toddler might be experiencing.

I have noticed throughout the years how many children with low muscle tone have flat feet, and children with flat feet have poor balance and coordination.

So, one of the first things I want you to pay attention to is to check your toddler’s posture in weight bearing. Do you notice your toddler’s feet collapsing when standing? This might be a sign that your toddler is flat-footed.

toddler-with-flat-feet
Notice how these toddler’s feet are collapsing and turning inwards.

Do you also notice poor alignment and your toddler’s heels rolling outwards?

child-with-rolled-ankles
Notice how the toddler’s heels are rolling outwards.

These are both signs that your toddler might have low muscle tone.

As toddlers begin to stand and walk, they start strengthening their muscles as they are using them in gait. However, toddlers with low muscle tone and pronation often develop a poor gait pattern as instead of a heel-toe pattern of walking, they use a toe-heel pattern.

Providing your toddlers with a pair of supportive shoes can help provide the extra support that joints need for good posture and movement.

When I help parents with toddlers with low muscle tone, I always recommend trying a good supportive shoe before trying an orthotic. I always watch the toddler walk and run to check whether there is an improvement in the walking gait. If after trying a pair of supportive shoes the toddler’s walking gait and posture don’t improve, that’s when it’s time to try a pair of orthotics.

If you have a toddler with low muscle tone, I will show you which shoes help improve a toddler’s walking gait and posture and prevent foot and knee pain in the future.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Low Muscle Tone?

The shoes I recommend provide 3 key features to help your toddler balance and improve your toddler’s walking gait and overall posture:

✅ Firm Heel Counter: This key feature helps straighten and strengthen your toddler’s ankles. The heel counter is the back part of the shoes that provides ankle support. Always press on the heel counter and make sure that it feels firm and not too soft or flimsy.

kids'-shoes-with-heel-support

✅ Substantial Outsoles: This feature helps align your toddler’s feet properly, providing a stable base for your toddler’s feet. Please don’t assume that supportive shoes hinder foot development.

supportive-kids'-shoes

✅ Flexibility: While the shoes need to be supportive, they need to be lightweight and flexible at the same time. This feature helps prevent your toddler’s feet and legs from easily getting tired. Your toddler’s shoes should always bend at the ball of the foot but no further.

kids'-shoes-with-the-correct-amount-of-flexibility

✅ Straight Last: Shoes with straight lasts will help keep your child’s feet in the correct position. Always try to avoid shoes with excessively curved lasts:

kids'-shoes-with-straight-last

Another great feature of this particular shoe is that it comes in different widths such as medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW). This means that it will fit any type of foot shape, no matter how narrow or wide they are.

The Best Shoes for Toddler with Low Muscle Tone

While some parents don’t like the idea of providing their toddlers with shoes that come with shoelaces, parents need to understand that shoelaces make a huge difference as they provide better support and stability. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

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To allow for growing room, I highly recommend that parents order these shoes half a size larger than their child’s current foot size. This translates to 3/16 of an inch or 0.5 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes.

Orthotics for Toddlers with Low Muscle Tone – Stabilize the Feet!

In certain cases, providing your toddlers with a pair of good, supportive shoes is not going to be enough to improve their posture and help them walk and run straighter. If this is the case with your toddler, then an orthotic might be required for extra support and to help align your toddler’s feet and legs to walk straighter.

The orthotics I recommend for toddlers with low muscle tone are the least restrictive ones as they allow for the normal movement of the foot. One of the main reasons why the orthotic works so efficiently for toddlers with low muscle tone is that it provides a deep heel cup (30mm to be more precise) that provides stability and improves the child’s walking gait.

If you believe that your toddler can benefit from wearing an orthotic I suggest that you take a look at the following article:

Best Orthotics for Children with Low Muscle Tone – Let’s Stabilize Your Child’s Feet!

Experiences from other Parents – Let’s See What They are Saying!

Below you can find a conversation between myself and a parent that had a toddler diagnosed with low muscle tone and needed guidance on finding shoes.

As you might be going through a similar situation, you might find this information valuable. In this particular case, all the toddler needed was a pair of good supportive shoes, but there are other several examples where the toddler actually needed a pair of orthotics to be fitted in the shoes.

Let’s take a look at the conversation:


Dear Juan,

I have a toddler with low muscle tone.

I live in Colorado and have no idea where to go to get the correct shoes as my almost 15-month-old daughter that is learning how to walk is having a lot of difficulty taking her first steps. She pronates and will often turn her right foot to the side (her toes point to the side) to compensate for her balance as she walks assisted holding our fingers. I took her to her physical therapist and she was diagnosed with low muscle tone.

Her feet also seem to be a little wider due to the laxity of the ligaments and muscles in her feet. I have been having her go in socks often to help build up foot strength and so that she can increase her proprioception, and we have her in physical therapy and occupational therapy (to help her overcome feeding challenges).

The occupational therapist recommended that she wears a pair of supportive shoes (but still flexible) but he didn’t know what shoe style to recommend. It’s frustrating because there is no children’s shoe store in the area that can guide me through the process of finding the correct pair of shoes for her.

Anyway, I picked up a pair of Stride Rite shoes with a flexible sole, just so she has something to protect her feet outside, but I would like to get properly fitting shoes and I have no idea where to look here in the Denver Metro area, what kinds of questions to ask, etc.

I am really worried because I want her to be in the best shoe style possible and I just can’t seem to find it. Please get back at me as soon as you can. Thank you for any help,

Marissa De Leon


Hello Marissa,

The first thing I want you to do is to allow her to walk barefoot inside the house for healthy foot development. Shoes play a role when you take her to play outside, and they must be supportive but still lightweight and flexible.

Has your physical/occupational therapist recommended a pair of good supportive shoes’ Did he recommend orthotics as well?

Either way, I suggest that we try a pair of good supportive shoes first and see how she reacts to them. You should try a shoe style that I have fitted before which will provide her good support and stability. This is the to-go shoe for children who are learning how to walk but need support due to foot issues such as flat feet, rolled ankles, or are dealing with low muscle tone.

You can find that shoe style here and is available in wide and extra wide widths – she might need one of these widths to accommodate her wide feet:

The Best Shoe Style for Children with Low Muscle Tone and Pronation

Take your daughter to your physical/occupational therapist as soon as you have the shoes with you and tell them to evaluate the way she is walking.

I hope this helps!


Dear Juan,

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I took her to her physical therapist and she is actually walking so much better. He said to stay away from the orthotics from now since the shoes seem to be helping her so much. I can’t believe what a difference this shoe style makes!

Thank you again for all your time, I really appreciate it!


Now let’s take a look at a different situation:

Hello Juan,

My daughter has been diagnosed with low muscle tone and the physical therapists recommended a pair of supportive shoes with orthotics. I already have the orthotics, and here is a picture so you can see what kind they are:

orthotics-for-kids

I just can’t seem to find a pair of shoes to fit the orthotics. At the children’s shoe store that I took my daughter to be properly fitted for shoes, they kept making her try larger shoes – since the orthotics wasn’t fitting inside the shoes, but the shoes were way too long and she kept falling!

My daughter wears a toddler shoe size 5.5 and needs an extra wide shoe. Is there a particular shoe style that you would recommend?

Diana Stokes


Hello Diana,

We need to find a pair of shoes that are supportive, but that are also deep for the orthotic to fit deep inside the shoes and don’t raise your kids’ feet. There is a particular shoe style that has proven to be the most effective one when it comes to fitting an orthotic. You can find that shoe style here:

The Best Shoe Style for Orthotics

Some of the advantages of this shoe style is how it is supportive, lightweight, deep, and made out of leather.

Please try this shoe style and get back at me to see how it worked.


Dear Juan,

Finally, a shoe that the orthotic goes in without getting having to get a longer size. I am so happy I don’t have to keep dealing with this. The physical therapist is extremely happy with this shoe style and the way she is walking.

Thank you for all your time, you really made a difference in the way my daughter walks and runs!


Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is: fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

I hope you found these questions/comments shared useful!

“Low Muscle Tone And Your Child – What You Need To Know.” ​Surestep​, 1 Dec. 2016, surestep.net/blog/low-muscle-tone-hypotonia-an-overview-for-parents/.

“Muscle Weakness (Hypotonia): Boston Children’s Hospital.” ​Boston Children’s Hospital,​www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/m/muscle-weakness-hypotonia.

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2 Comments on Toddler with Low Muscle Tone – The Best Shoe Styles to Improve the Way Your Child Walks

    • Hello Gurleen,

      Do you know if his feet are medium, wide, or extra wide? Would you like a pair of velcro shoes or shoes with shoelaces? Once you get back at me with that information I can show you a selection of shoes for boys with flat feet.

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