My child is W- Sitting, is that okay?

 

At Cooee Speech Pathology, our Brisbane north Occupational Therapists work with kids and their families to help build postural skills and promote appropriate seating and positioning.

What is W-sitting?

Many parents may be thinking, “so what is the big deal with W-sitting?”. Here at Cooee, children will often be encouraged to change their position from W-sitting and many parents may be unaware of why. During play, many young children will move through this position – but what exactly is W-sitting?

When a child sits with their bottom, knees and feet resting flat on the ground with their feet turned to the outside of the knees, this is known as W-sitting.  Like in the picture to the right, but with both feet positioned behind.

This position has been given this title as it resembles the letter ‘W’ when looking at the child from above.

Many children will easily move into this position when playing on the floor. Sitting in this position will create a wider base of support with a lower centre of gravity – therefore, increasing the child’s trunk stability.

This posture is generally easier for children to achieve as their hip joints have more mobility. As we grow up, the mobility in our hip joint decreases and it will typically be harder for adults to sit in this position.

 

What is the issue with W-sitting?

The concerns with W-sitting are related to the fact that the body requires minimal input from the muscles of the child’s trunk and core.

This makes it feel easier for the child and less fatiguing as their muscles are not working as hard to maintain their posture. While scientific research about the long-term impact of W-sitting is limited, it is important to encourage children to move through other positions and postures during play for a number of reasons. It is typical for W-sitting to be one of many positions that children will use at a young age, but it becomes a concern when the child is spending long periods of time in W-sitting while playing on the floor.

 

When in a W-sitting position, it can be easier for the child to manipulate and play with toys as they are not working to support their balance. The problem with this, is that the child’s trunk is in a more fixed position – meaning that they can only play with what is in front of them.

In comparison, other sitting postures promote rotation and control to be able to cross the midline.

Over time, this will contribute to the development of fine and gross motor skills.

What can I do to help?

  1. Be consistent – it is important to catch it before it becomes a habit for your child to sit in this position for prolonged periods of time! 
  2. Alternative sitting:
    1. Side sitting: both feet are to one side with one hip in internal rotation and one hip in external rotation
    2. Long sitting: body at a 90-degree angle with legs out straight in front
    3. Sitting on a low chair or stool
    4. Squatting: promotes lower body and core strengthening
    5. Sitting cross legged
  1. Model or support your child’s body into an alternative sitting posture: when playing on the floor, it is possible for the adult to sit in a long sitting position with their legs and feet holding the child in a kneeling position (child’s feet are tucked under their own bottom). Make sure that your child knows the different sitting positions before asking them to change. 
  2. Seek help! If you are concerned about your child’s proximal stability or ability to transition through positions during play, then please don’t hesitate to visit the clinic.

 

If you would like more information about posture, motor skills or play, please contact the clinic to get in touch with one of our Occupational Therapists.

 

Georgia O’Connor

Occupational Therapist