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Why Is Your Toddler Complaining of Leg Pain at Night? – First Walkers Answers

Why Is Your Toddler Complaining of Leg Pain at Night?

Concerned about your toddler's leg pain at night? Find out possible causes, treatments, and expert insights.

Kerry is a passionate podiatrist.
By Kerry Seaman
Kelly Hendrickse - Editor for First Walkers
Edited by Kelly Hendrickse

Updated August 11, 2023.

Nighttime is a very important time for healing and growing in young children. They sleep a lot more than adults, sometimes in the afternoon and night. So, when they experience leg pain, you may wonder what the cause is.

We spoke to Kerry Seaman—a podiatry expert specializing in podopaediatrics—to help you better understand what impacts toddlers' leg pain at night and ways to help treat this pain.

Causes of Leg Pain at Night in Toddlers


Is your child in a crib or on a mattress? Have they outgrown their sleeping area? If yes, it can be useful to examine the dimensions of the bed and make changes to facilitate easier leg development.

Your child's daily environment also plays a role. For instance, walking on concrete every day could result in pain. Therefore, encouraging activities in sand or soil environments can help strengthen their legs.


Some physical conditions can make a child more vulnerable to pain. For example:

  • Hypermobile joint dysfunction: This is when connective tissue extends beyond a safe range of motion in areas such as the thumbs, fingers, elbows, spine, and knees.
  • Knock knees: This may occur in prematurely born children or those who had difficult births involving excessive pulling.
  • Perthes' Disease: This is a rare condition where the socket going into the pelvis and the growth plates grow differently and have a disrupted blood supply.
  • Growing pains: Because bones and muscles grow at varying paces, your child can start experiencing this pain around age 4 up until age 12.


Different deficiencies could increase susceptibility to pain. Some examples include:

  • Vitamin D is essential for strengthening bones.
  • Vitamin C can help alleviate muscle and joint pain.

Emotional or Physical Responses

A child might complain of pain due to tiredness or lack of parental contact. In some cases, they might not know how to express themselves. Hypermobile children, for example, always need to be carried and don't want to walk long distances, which sometimes gets mistaken for laziness.

» Is your child hypermobile? Discover the best shoes for stability

How to Treat Leg Pain in Toddlers

"I'm an ardent advocate for a balanced diet."

For picky eaters, nutrients can be introduced via soups or juices. Some superfoods, like the moringa plant from Asia, can be incorporated into meals. This plant is richer in iron than spinach and can be processed into a green powder and added to juices.

"Footwear is a treatment in itself—the right pair of shoes can prevent an array of problems."

Shoes that fit can promote proper skeletal development and maintain bone alignment. This helps prevent harmful walking patterns.

» Check out the best durable and supportive kids' sneakers for active playtimes

Take a Step Away From Leg Pain

"Treating children takes into account both physical and emotional factors," explains Seaman. So, by understanding your child's responses, clinicians can help diagnose and treat the root cause of the leg pain. To help, you can ensure all necessary vitamins and minerals are included in your child's meals, as well as make sure their environment and footwear are comfortable and conducive to their needs.

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