It’s such an exciting time in your child’s development when he or she tries to take their first steps. Babies will typically begin walking between 9 months and 15 months of age. It is important to adjust for prematurity when determining your child’s developmental age. Typically, when your child is just beginning to walk, they show certain characteristics of early walking, which include keeping their hands high for protection, have a wide base of support for balance, and keep their feet flat for more stability while moving. Your child’s “walking pattern” can also be called their “gait.” After your child has been walking for a full 5 months, their gait should improve with some maturing characteristics, including their hands lowering, improved balance, and heels hitting the ground first. A completely mature gait pattern is typically seen by age 3, with a range of variation from 2-5 years old.
It is very important to catch any gait abnormality as early as possible. Common abnormalities include, but are not limited to, in-toeing, out-toeing, and toe walking. All of these concerns can be treated in physical therapy! If you are noticing these concerns in your early walker, it is better to catch them and treat them before their walking pattern matures, in order to decrease the possibilities of foot pain or deformities later in life. See images below to demonstrate some common pediatric foot posture and gait pattern concerns.
Even when your child is participating in standing activities, such as standing at their play kitchen or coloring at their easel, it is important that they are able to keep a proper foot position! Between the ages of 2 and 4, your child’s foot arch is forming and improving. They should be able to maintain their balance on flat feet, rather than weight on their toes, on the outside border of their feet, or on the inside border of their feet. Common “static” foot concerns include flat feet, pronated feet (weight through the inside border of the foot), or supinated feet (weight through the outside border of the foot).
Here at OSP Children’s Therapy Center, our physical therapist can work with your child to improve their gait pattern and foot position through evaluation and treatment to determine the cause and best individualized treatment plan. Pediatric physical therapists engage your child in strengthening, stretching, movement, and balance activities through play and fun activities to improve participation and outcomes.
Call us today at (774) 608-7253 to schedule an evaluation today!
Written by: Jessie Maniscalco PT, DPT