W sitting: Why kids sit like this and when you should be worried

close-up girl w sitting

If you haven’t heard of W sitting, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s quite likely that your toddler is already doing it, but in many cases, it’s not an issue. However, for some kids, it can lead to problems with walking and posture. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is W sitting?

W sitting is when a child sits on the floor with his knees bent forward, and his legs splayed out to the sides. It’s called that because, quite literally, the shape the child’s legs make when viewed from above is the letter W. It’s quite normal for toddlers and preschoolers to sit like this at some point during their development phases. However, for some children, this is the only way they like to sit.

boy sitting w shape family

Why kids sit like this

W sitting happens in young children, mostly because it creates a lower centre of gravity, making it easier to support themselves without their core or trunk having to work very hard. The position also provides stability, making it easier for them to use their arms and hands. For children who have tight hip muscles, are very flexible or hypermobile, it’s possible that W sitting is simply more comfortable. For other children, it could just be a habit they’ve gotten used to for no particular reason.

Read more about toddler development:

Cause for concern

If you notice your child W sitting occasionally or for brief moments while transitioning in and out of other positions, then there’s nothing worry about and, in time, he should grow out of it. It can, however, be an issue if this is the only position your child uses and he sits that way for long periods of time. As a result, W sitting can contribute to the following:

  • Walking pigeon-toed
  • Altered hip development
  • Swayback posture
  • Weak trunk and core muscles
  • Tight hamstrings

boy w sitting

Tips for parents

If you’re concerned about the length of time that your child is spending W sitting, here are some simple things you can do as a parent to help prevent future issues:

  • Encourage sitting in a variety of different positions – e.g. cross-legged, on a small step or stool, legs out in front or both out to the side.
  • Stretch hamstrings – Have him sit with his back and bottom against the wall and his legs out in front (you could read a book together in this position to make it less of a chore).
  • Have a bum shuffle race – Make a game out of it by having your child put his legs out in front and lift his bottom one side at a time to shuffle across the floor in a race against you.
  • Strengthen trunk muscles – Have him reach for both heavy and light objects from different distances and heights.

If you are at all worried about your child’s W sitting or other areas of their posture and development, please speak to a physiotherapist or your doctor for advice.

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