Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Walking Patterns

Why does my child's walking look different?

Most children learn to walk between the ages of 12 – 18 months​

​However a typical walking pattern, like we see in adults, may not fully develop until the ages of 7 to 9 years old. ​

You may notice your child’s walking pattern (“gait”) change a lot during this time. Many of these changes are part of the normal development of gait as their bones and muscles grow and develop. These changes are not usually a cause for concern.​

Common normal gait variants

Many younger children will walk with their toes turning inwards.

Genu Varum 'Bow Legs'

If when your child stands with their feet and ankles together, their knees stay apart, they have genu varum. This is very common when children begin to walk. It usually resolves on its own by the age of 2 or 3 years old and does not typically require any treatment.​

Genu Valgum 'Knock Knees'

With genu valgum, when the knees are together, the child’s feet and ankles stay apart. “Knock knees” often develops slightly later, usually between the ages of 3 and 5 years old but can be normal up to the age of 8. It usually resolves on its own as the child grows and does not typically require any treatment.

If your child has developed a limp and shows any of the following signs you should urgently call 111 who will triage if your child needs urgent care:​

  • Sudden onset pain in their hip, thigh or knee​
  • Unable to put any weight on their leg to stand or walk​
  • The leg has changed shape or is pointing at an odd angle​
  • Generally unwell with a high temperature, feeling hot and shivery​
  • Severe pain in the lower part of their tummy​
  • Symptoms are getting worse

Self Help

When should I seek further help?

Most normal variants of gait do not require treatment and will usually resolve on their own as your child gets older. ​

Speak to a healthcare professional if your child is also getting pains in their legs, is struggling or unable to do their usual activities or their walking pattern is getting worse over time. ​

Wearing well-fitting, supportive footwear is helpful to support your child’s normal gait development.

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

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