What is the big deal about W sitting?

Amongst all of the mountains of solicited (and unsolicited) advice parents of toddlers receive, someone down the road has likely mentioned something along the lines of, “Whatever you do, don’t let your child W sit!”. But what even is W sitting? And is it really bad? I mean, does anyone care how my child sits when they watch Paw Patrol?

The short answer is: Yes and No.

What is W sitting? W sitting occurs when the child sits with both knees bent behind their body and off to the side. While the child does not notice a difference, this type of seated posture can result in hip and knee problems and decreased core strength.

When is W sitting a red flag? Children oftentimes move in and out of W sitting during play, and while it is not encouraged by any means, it is not exceedingly harmful unless it is your child’s main sitting position, your child sits like that for a long period of time, or they are unable to sit criss cross applesauce.

Okay, so no W sitting, but what ways should they sit? I like to tell my client’s families that variety is key. Ideally, your child is able to play and move into and out of many different seated positions. The more, the better as this means they are developing a variety of motor plans.

Types of sitting include:

  • Sitting with legs outstretched
  • Sitting in crisscross applesauce
  • Sitting in high knees
  • Lying in prone while propped on elbows.

If W sitting or core strength seem to be an issue for your child, contact Valued Voices for a screening and additional resources.

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Kaelyn Green, MA, OTR/L

Kaelyn Green is a licensed occupational therapist at Valued Voices. She is certified by the University of Southern California in Sensory Integration and is an advocate for addressing underlying sensory functioning in order to improve occupational performance.  She is passionate about meeting children and families where they are at and seeks to tailor interventions to the unique needs of her clients. When she is not working, you will find Kaelyn taking care of her two goldendoodles, working in her garden, or taking trips to the Central Coast.