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W-Sitting: Why do kids sit like this?

W-sitting is a position that is too commonly used by children when seated on the ground. In this position, a child sits on their bottom, with knees bent, feet tucked under, and legs splayed out to each side in a “W” configuration. At DMW, we discourage this position as it can cause in-turned hips and possible walking problems.

What you need to know about W-sitting:

Marianne McCormick, the head of physiotherapy at Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick, notes that W-sitting can put a child's hips into an in-turned position, which puts pressure on their shins and feet.

"Some children adopt this posture because they lack the strength and muscle control to support themselves in sitting with their legs in front of them," she says.

"The lower limb alignment of children changes with their growth. This is a normal process. Most babies and toddlers have 'bandy' legs, and this progresses to being a bit 'knock-kneed' when they're three to seven, before ending straight when they are eight or nine," McCormick says.

"W-sitting can continue the 'knock kneed' phase of their development, preventing the normal development of the shape of their thigh bones and hips," McCormick explains.

McCormick notes that W-sitting is common in kids who are really flexible, or hypermobile.

What should you do if your child is sitting in the ‘W’ position?

  • Make them aware of their position, prompting them to switch positions by saying “Sit properly,” or “Move your legs.”

  • Try to encourage sitting with legs crossed in front, to counteract the in-turning force.

  • Position your child in correct sitting configurations whilst watching TV, reading a book or eating a snack

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