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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

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated and revised for accuracy on February 2022 and reflects an up-to-date selection of shoe recommendations. 

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.

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✅ 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.

Before and After Images of a Toddler with Low Muscle Tone

Before Image

Let’s first take a look at an image of a toddler with low muscle tone standing barefoot. Do you notice how the feet are collapsing and turning inwards?

toddler-with-flat-feet

After Image

Let’s now take a look at an image of the same toddler wearing a pair of supportive shoes that I recommend. Do you notice how the feet are a lot straighter?

shoes-for-toddlers-with-flat-feet

Wow! What a difference the correct types of shoes can make!

The Best Shoes for Toddlers 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.

Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

In each of the descriptions of the shoes I indicate whether you need to order a half a size or a whole size bigger than your child’s foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

If none of these shoes are available in your child’s shoe size or if you need the shoes to be made of a specific color don’t hesitate to email me at:

fittingchildrensshoes@gmail.com

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If you want to be 100% sure about what shoe size to order online, I suggest that you follow the instructions in the article below:

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

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!

Testimonials from Families

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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

“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.

STOP BUYING THE WRONG PAIR OF SHOES FOR YOUR CHILDREN.LETS START TAKING CARE OF THEIR FEET!

I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.






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4 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.

  1. What is a good shoe to get if toddler wears orthotics? Size 2 extra wide new balance with removable soles is what we have now. He has wide feet so need something wide. Also small feet. He is learning to walk. But without orthotics walks on his ankles. The ones we have are Velcro.

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