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The aim of this study was to look at the maturational profile of gait parameters by measuring ground reaction forces during independent walking in children. Fifty-four normal children aged 1 to 5 years were examined. The children walked with eight force transducers under each sole. Gait velocity and step length increased with age, whereas step frequency remained relatively constant. Phases of double ground contact expressed as percentages of the total gait cycle decreased significantly from age 1 to 5 with the steepest decrease occuring in the first year of independent walking. No asymmetry between left and right could be detected for any of these parameters. The pattern of ground reaction forces with a significant heel strike and obvious enrollment process resembling that in adults was achieved between the age of 2 and 3 years. Measuring ground reaction forces is a fast and easily manageable method of analysing gait pattern in children and is also a promising tool for detection of gait abnormalities in children with neurological disease.