Q. What could cause an unsteady gait in a toddler?

Answered by
Dr. Devavrat Harihar Nene
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 27, 2017

Hello doctor,

My daughter was a late walker. She started to walk when she was 18 months old. Now, at 20 months, it feels like she is still very unsteady and her gait is weird. I have attached a link to a video of how she walks. Please see it. Is there a real reason to be concerned or is it normal after two months to be like this? She was born at 39 weeks with an undetected intrauterine growth restriction. Her birth weight was 2.3 kg.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • After seeing the video (attachment removed to protect patient identity), it appears that she walks with an ataxic gait.
  • There may also be some component of spasticity (stiffness in her lower limbs). It looks a little abnormal because she is tripping and falling. This can be due to the IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) which she had.
  • This can as well become alright as she grows but, it is better to get a thorough neurological examination done.
  • Does she have any difficulty with learning or speaking?
  • Do you have any MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) reports?

For more information consult a neurologist online --> https://icliniq.com./ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist

Hello doctor,

Thanks for replying. She has about 30 words she uses to label and request essentially. She does not combine words and babble a lot. She does understand speech but, her receptive language seems limited. She has a short attention span. So, it is difficult to teach her new things. I keep reading to her and teaching her body parts. She does not repeat words when I encourage her to. Then one day, she will use one word in context and I realize she was listening. I am really freaking out now because someone suggested Rett syndrome. Could that be it?



Welcome back to icliniq.com.

  • No, I do not think it is Rett's syndrome since she is gaining new milestones. It is just that she is slow to reach them. She does not have any seizures. She is learning new things but, a little slowly.
  • All her conditions can be related to her intra-natal or perinatal insult.
  • What we can do now is get an MRI done to see if there is any damage to her brain.
  • Do not worry. Whatever it was, was an old insult, if at all. It will recover as she grows old.
  • You can visit a child guidance clinic where they would teach her through various other techniques which you may not be familiar with at present.
  • So, do not worry at all. She will be fine.

For more information consult a neurologist online --> https://icliniq.com./ask-a-doctor-online/neurologist

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