Have you noticed your child or grandchild sitting on the floor with their legs in a W shape? “W sitting” or sitting with knees rotated in and feet out to either side of the body, does not look like it would be a comfortable position. But for children with decreased trunk strength it can feel really secure and stable.
As a physical therapist treating children of all ages at Tri Rehab in Canton, Michigan, I encourage parents to monitor how much time a child spends in this position. If it is infrequent or used as a transition between moving into other positions, such as side sitting, the child does not need to be corrected. However, if this is the child’s favorite sitting pattern, we need to gently encourage them to sit in other positions. Other options could include criss-cross (knees out to the side, ankles crossed), long sitting (legs extended out in front), kneeling, squatting, or side sitting (both feet on the same side of the body).
In general, we discourage frequent W-sitting because it does not allow for strong trunk muscle development. It may cause tightness in the hips and legs which could limit mobility and does not allow for cross-body reaching which is an important developmental skill.
Children develop at their own pace but if you notice your child seems to be behind their peers, talk to your pediatrician about a physical therapy referral. Tri Rehab Physical Therapy in Dearborn or Canton MI is here to help.