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If your toddler constantly tiptoes, you may think she's got a future as a ballerina, but this walking style is another leftover from life in utero. Babies' feet are usually pressed up against their buttocks with their toes pointed downward, which shortens the Achilles tendons. This may make it hard for a young child to put her heels down, and it can take months of standing and walking to stretch out her Achilles tendons and calf muscles. If your child never puts her whole foot down or her toes seem stuck pointing down, talk to your pediatrician -- these may be signs of cerebral palsy. Also consult your doctor if your child frequently tiptoes after age 2, when it could be the sign of other neurological problems like autism. But remember that although some children with autism do walk on their tiptoes, tiptoe walking alone isn't a red flag for autism in toddlers who are otherwise developing normally. --Tamekia Reece
Originally published in the July 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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