You see it all the time. Kids like to sit with their feet splayed out behind their bottoms. When therapists and sports coaches see this sitting position, they react as though someone just scratched their fingers down a chalkboard. Why?

To begin, while the little legs of toddlers and young children are quite flexible, the “W” sitting position stretches the tendons that wrap around the knees. Not a big deal for flexible little bodies, but if perpetuated, the tendons become lax and can cause trouble later in life, especially as they grow and begin engaging in rigorous sporting activities.

But here’s the big problem about “W Sitting” for your baby right now. When “W Sitting, the body is locked down and the chance to fall over is minimized. This is a good thing-right? Wrong! When your baby sits properly, the trunk muscles are activated to help maintain balance and sit in an upright position. That doesn’t happen when “W” sitting. As a result, the core muscles don’t get the workout they need. That leads to less ability to balance, reach and move around effectively. It make is harder to learn to crawl, cruise and walk. When kids get to school, the ability to sit up and pay attention in class is compromised.

It is very exciting when your baby learns to sit independently. Now your child begins to see the world higher off the ground rather than the floor. Arms can stretch and reach for toys, too difficult to obtain when lying on the tummy or back. As those little arms stretch and reach, the body gets a real work out. Think core!

When babies hunker into a “W Sit,” they limit their ability to reach very far. All the great core work that happens in regular sitting positions won’t happen. Balancing practice while rocking side to side and reaching beyond the center of gravity doesn’t occur. Lost opportunity!

Why do some babies “W-sit”? Here are the most common reasons:

  1. Weak core strength
  2. Fearful of falling
  3. Fearful of movement.

How do you help your baby get comfortable in crossed and straight leg sitting positions?

  1. Help strengthen core muscles with tummy play
  2. Make sure your baby enjoys movement. Start with gentle rocking and bouncing. Mix it up as the baby chortles with delight!
  3. Prop your baby between your legs in a sitting position to play.
  4. Add some throw pillows around so the baby is assured of a soft landing!
  5. Encourage rolling.