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My 20 month old daughter is particularly clumsy. She is constantly falling, walking into things, stumbling, and even having a hard time getting up after she falls. I would almost describe her walking as a perpetual state of falling. I have 5 kids, so I know that all kids are different, but she is significantly clumsier than any of my others were. What are common reasons why a child would have this issue?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Has she always been clumsy? I'm not a doctor, but the first thing that comes to my mind is a potential issue with her balance organs, in the ears. There are methods to test for that.

There are simple physiotherapeutical manoeuvres to get rid of any disturbing material in all the loops of the ear, which might resolve it if that's the problem in the first place.

It might also be a virus on the ear. I had that once or twice, it was just like being massively dizzy and seasick.

I'm sure you've already asked your paediatrician, but ask again, and ask to be referred to a specialist.

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Yes, always clumsy, and still ongoing. It's probably a genetic inner-ear issue. We'll look into the maneuvers, that seems promising. Thanks. –  Javid Jamae Sep 16 '13 at 6:29

This is obviously an old question now, but I'd add vision issues to the list of possible causes. Good vision is more than just clarity of sight - I had issues with eye teaming (getting both eyes to focus on the same spot in three-dimensional space) as a kid, and have seen clumsiness as a symptom before. Doing an eye checkup with an eye doctor that does vision training with kids could shed light on whether or not this is a factor.

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Children with ear infections or fluid in the ears often are more "clumsy" than others. The hearing mechanism houses the semicircular canals that are so important for balance.

Ear infections are often called "the silent illness" because fluid can be present with no pain or other symptoms. So sometimes, poorer balance is the only indicator of a problem.

Also, abnormalities of the feet and legs can contribute to stumbling behavior. Toeing in and bowed legs are two examples.

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I've heard tell that part of this is due to how much infants crawl before they walk, and can't quite confirm with my two boys quite yet, so its sort of anecdotal but here are my suspicions. Part of it is how kids learn balance, those who don't crawl much or walk assisted seem to be more prone to balance issues later on, my older son seems to be like this and I know one other child about the same age who has the same issues. My son and our friends son never crawled much as kids, they sort of skipped to walking, sometimes they fall - more noticable to me while being their soccer coach. My younger is a fast crawler and spends time getting up and down, seems to be more in balance; I'll confirm this to myself in a few years since they are way different kids.

Some things we did to sort of negate issues that it might be physical, get good fitting clothes, my older son needs looser clothes otherwise they tend to pull and he loses balance. Good fitting shoes, sometimes my wife buys them a little big, which is fine unless they are the slip ons, I've seen those fly across the soccer field more than once. Give them some exercises to sort of improve their skill, as their bodies grow they need to fit into them, though we haven't had a growth spurt in awhile so its just been more training. Kung Fu is part of it for us, and sometimes we do obstacle courses while playing which tends to help out my son. Also make sure the kids are not tired, when my son is winding down he gets more clumsy, but I think that is just natural.

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With our three we have noticed that every time they get clumsy they have a growth spurt, so much so that for the youngest one a day of clumsiness is enough warning for us to get the next size box of her elder sister's old clothes down from the attic in preparation.

As their bodies undergo size changes it takes time for their brains to release accurate proprioception.

As per @Torben's answer there may be a medical reason, but it may be nothing more than normal growth.

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