Short answer - it depends. W-sitting, or sitting with the legs and feet bent backward and out to the side of the body, is a developmentally appropriate position in a young child. However, W-sitting becomes a concern when it is the only way a child will or can sit during floor play.
Why? Try getting into the W-sitting position - how does it feel? Do you feel locked in? W-sitting internally rotates the hips and increases the child’s base of support, thus locking a child into sitting. It is a passive way of sitting and limits the ability to move freely in and out of sitting (hint: a must for crawling!). From a pediatric physical therapist’s perspective, it can also indicate tight hips, a weak trunk, or lack of developmentally appropriate balance reactions and transitions. Prolonged and excessive W-sitting can potentially cause in-toeing when walking, tight calf muscles or toe walking, genu valgum or “knocked knees”, and continued muscle weakness in the trunk, hips, and pelvis. It can also be associated with delayed gross motor milestones and difficulty coordinating pelvic floor muscles during urination and bowel movements.
There are plenty of other ways your child can sit on the floor. Here are my favorite pediatric-physical-therapist-approved ways to sit: “criss-cross applesauce”, side-sitting, and long-sitting (legs out straight). Depending on the age of your child, simply saying “criss cross applesauce” or “fix your legs” can go a long way to helping them correct the W-sitting posture.
But, when should W-sitting trigger you to reach out to a pediatric physical therapist? If you notice your child W-sitting more than 80% of the time by 2 years of age, then you should consider getting them evaluated by a pediatric physical therapist. Or, if your child W-sits and there are other concerns (such as pigeon-toes, trips frequently, toe walks, has difficulty sitting “criss cross applesauce”, or struggles with transitions from sitting, to crawling, and/or standing) reach out to a pediatric physical therapist for an evaluation as well.
However, if your child just occasionally W-sits and you do not have other concerns, there is no reason to be alarmed. Keep calm and carry on!
As a mom and a pediatric physical therapist, I am here to help! It is my goal to set kiddos and parents up for gross motor success. Stay tuned as I publish more blog posts with gross motor tips. And if you made it this far, thank you! Please check out and follow, like, comment, etc. our social media accounts. I appreciate it!
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