Should You Worry If Your Child is Sitting in a W-Sitting Position?

Sit in during a children’s play session and chances are, you will spot a few of them W-sitting – or in other words, resting their bottom between their feet with legs to either side. For years, various healthcare experts have warned parents not to let their children sit in this manner due to the risks of orthopaedic problems and developmental delays.

But is the ‘W sitting’ position really all that bad for children?

In a Today Parents article, Dr Eduardo Novais, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr Jennifer Weiss, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, provided their views on this matter.

Why children favour the W-sitting position

Most children are born with a condition known as femoral anteversion, where their thighbones are twisted inwards. As your child’s knees and feet turn in, his/her legs may look like they are bowed. However, the good thing is that this condition self-corrects for most children as they grow, and until their bodies change, the W-sitting position may come naturally for them.

Dr Novais affirmed that W-sitting is sometimes more comfortable and stable for children at this stage, as they have more internal hip rotation. “They can rotate their trunk, reach out and grab things more easily,” Dr Novais said. Similarly, Dr Weiss added that when one’s leg has an internal twist to it, it’s actually less comfortable to sit in a “criss-cross applesauce” position. Many parents may find it difficult to understand why their children would prefer the “W-sitting” position as their anatomy is different.

At what age do children tend to sit in a W-sitting position?

According to Dr Novais, the W-sitting is more common in four- to six-year-olds, but it is also not unlikely to see younger and older children in this sitting position. Femoral anteversion tends to decrease after the age of 8.

Should you be worried if you see your child W-sitting?

There is no evidence that W-sitting affects children’s core stability or will cause orthopaedic problems. In addition, both doctors affirmed that a child cannot dislocate his/her hip by sitting in this position.

“I have no problem with a child W sitting. They’re not going to change the shape of their legs. They’re not going to change their alignment by sitting like that. They’re just responding to their natural anatomy,” said Dr Weiss. She added that if a child wants to sit in a W position, there will not be excessive stress on his/her joints, muscles or knees as children know how to avoid pain in their bodies.

 

When does W-sitting signal a problem, and what can you do to correct your child’s sitting position? More details on the next page.

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