The Pediatric Walker

There are countless objects and events in this world that can officially carry the classification of cute/precious. However, in my humble opinion, there is nothing more precious/cute than watching a child learn to walk and then progress. We will look at the differences in the gait pattern of a 1 yr old to a 3 year old. Before we get started it is important to note that most children begin to walk independently at about 12 months of age. Another thing of note is that there are 3 stages of gait: heel contact, stance, and toe off.

1 Year Old:

  • The biggest difference at this age is that there is NO heel strike. Initial contact is with the foot firmly planted.
  • To maintain balance, the elbows are nearly fully extended with the arms out.
  • There is NO arm swing during gait.
  • Their walk almost as if they are high stepping because they dont have the dorsiflexion power at the ankle to clear the foot for the next step. In fact, their foot is actually in a more plantarflexed position.
  • They have a broad based gait with feet typically pointing out.

2 Year Old:

  • It is during this age that a true, clear heel contact develops.
  • The beginnings of reciprocal arm swing appear.
  • Stride length increases while the base of gait itself decreases.

3 Year Old:

  • Not much different from that of a 2 year old.
  • Stride length continues to increase as their legs lengthen.

With continued aging and growing, the gait will quickly resemble that of an adult.

NOTE: Toe walking is never considered normal. So if you notice your child, especially as they age, has a toe walking gait, please consult your family practitioner or podiatrist. Early walking may appear to be toe walking due to the fact there is not heel strike in a 1 year old. If you have any questions or concerns, please see your local Podiatrist.

If you have a child, or you yourself are in need of someone to care for your feet, please contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit

Photo Credit: Daniel St.Pierre via

Category: Foot Care for Children

Tags: Children Foot Care, Gait, Walk