W-Sitting Position In Children: Prevention and Alternatives

4 min read

As a baby gains more control over their torso and the entire body, they sit up to do all their activities. Have you noticed how the straight legs splayed in front slowly start folding as they grow older? Have you noticed how comfortable all children, including babies and toddlers, are in a W-sitting position, which is not possible for many adults? Is this ok? Is this safe for your child to continue? Read on.

W-Sitting Position In Children

What is a W-Sitting Position?

The W-position is a sitting position many toddlers adapt to as they get more control over their bodies and limbs. When you face your seated child, you can see their lower body forming the letter “W”.

This happens when they kneel to reach something and then just sit back between their feet – causing their bottoms and legs to form a W position. So, their knees are in front and their feet are on either side of their bottom.

At What Age do Children Start Sitting in a W-Position?

girl sitting W posture and playing

Children tend to start sitting in a W-position as they start independent play. When they find something interesting, they just sit wherever they can and reach for things around them on their own, without any help.

This is usually around the 2 -3 years mark and it slowly starts to fade away (in many cases).

Why are Infants and Toddlers Comfortable in W-Sitting Position?

Sitting in the W-position increases their center of gravity and prevents them from falling to any side. They don’t have to use their core strength to sit up straight as the base is more and the bent legs prevent them from falling backward or sideways.

W-Sitting Position: Why Should it be Discouraged?

Though not all doctors are against this position, the W-position becomes a concern if your child seems to sit comfortably only in that position. If a child continues to sit in this position, it can cause several developmental issues.

Possible issues if a child is not discouraged from sitting in a W-position are:

  • The child may not develop enough core or torso strength and balance.
  • A pre-existing condition of hip dysplasia can become worse as the hip is rotated outwards and can even cause the hips to be pushed out of the joint.
  • The child might take more time to start walking properly as their knees are locked together with the feet splaying outwards – which is not an ideal position to walk in.
  • It can cause the hip and hamstring muscles to tighten up, affecting the development of balance and coordination.
  • It can prevent your child from learning to reach across their body (left hand to right side and right hand to left side) causing a delay in bilateral coordination.
  • They will find it difficult to shift to other sitting positions from the W-position as the muscles get tighter over time in this sitting position.

How to Stop Your Child From Sitting in a W-Position?

The W-position is the most comfortable position for children, especially when they are playing on the floor or even on the bed. This gives them a good range and support for their playtime. As a parent, you will have to repeatedly tell your child to change their sitting position, every time you find them sitting in a W-position.

Alternatively, you can give them a stool or a cushion to sit on, which will automatically cause their legs to criss-cross in the front or spread the legs out straight in front.

When to Worry About W-Sitting Position in Children?

Many children move out of this position as they grow up and get more upper body balance. However, it’s a red flag if you start noticing the following:

  1. Your child is unable to walk straight after they have been sitting in the W-position for a while.
  2. They are unable to move into other sitting positions from this position.
  3. The body is not straight or well balanced when they walk.
  4. Their feet are pigeon-toed for better support when they walk.
  5. There is a delay in other coordination developments – which can hint at a neurological issue.
  6. They are not able to run/walk for long as the muscles are tight and cause pain when strained.
  7. You notice a delay in fine motor skills.

Alternative Sitting Options for Children Who Sit in W-Position

kids sitting Criss-Cross position

Some of the alternative sitting positions you can teach your child are:

  1. Criss-Cross: Legs are crossed at knees in the front.
  2. Side-Sitting: Knees and feet are together but bent towards one side.
  3. Long-Sitting: Legs are out straight in front.
  4. Tailor-Sitting: Knees, and feet are together and the bottom does not go in-between; it rests on top of the heels.
  5. Squatting: When the full weight is balanced on the feet and the bottom does not touch the floor.

The W-sitting position is quite common in children in their developmental years. Politely coax your child to move out of that position and adapt to other sitting positions rather than shouting at or reprimanding them. This position comes naturally to them and so it will require you to repeatedly discourage them from sitting that way. Just stay patient and consistent in your effort and your child will learn very soon.

Read Also: In-Toeing And Out-Toeing In Kids

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