What is W sitting—what every parent needs to know

W sitting is when a child is seated with their bottom on the ground, having their knees and feet behind them.

What is W sitting—what every parent needs to know

Most parents have heard of W sitting and that it is "bad" to do— but in fact, when you take look around a preschool classroom you'll likely see many children happily playing in the W seated position. As a mom and pediatric physical therapist whose baby prefers to W sit, I spend much of my day repositioning a determined baby and recounting phrases such as "fix your W, please."

So here is what a clinician and mom in the trenches of W sitting wants you to know:

What is W sitting?

W sitting is when a child is seated with their bottom on the ground, having their knees in front and feet behind them. If you were to look down at your child while standing above them, you would see the legs make the letter W.

Infants and preschoolers alike frequently chose this position while playing because it is comfortable and easy. Passing in and out of W sitting is okay, but it can become problematic when the child uses W sitting as their go-to and forgoes other seated positions.

Why is prolonged W sitting problematic?

This position allows the child to shift their weight onto their bottom, which allows them to feel supported with less muscle work. Although, the child feels stable this can be troublesome because postural muscles require work to stay strong. Weakness associated with inactivity can make it more difficult for the child to hold themself upright with activities, such as walking, running and sitting down.

When sitting in the W position, the child's weight is not evenly displaced, which places increased stress on the child's hip and knee joints. These stresses can increase the risk of pain and even dislocation over time.

When a child is resting comfortably on their bottom, it is easier to play with both hands in from of them. This can lead to them being less likely to develop a hand preference, such as left or right. In order to do this the child needs to be able to turn to their sides while playing, which can be more difficult in the W position. Plus, the ability to choose a hand preference allows the child to develop the muscle strength and coordination to successfully master handwriting skills down the road.

Tips to reduce this type of sitting

Although a child may prefer to sit in this position now, it does not always mean they will develop problems down the road. If your child is a baby who has learned to sit and now prefers to play in W sitting, reposition them. If they're older, verbal cues can be provided to guide them into a better position. Offer other on the ground seated positions, such as the criss-cross applesauce position, seated with legs straight, or sitting with legs to one side. You can even encourage your child to play in the kneeling position or seated on a small stool or beanbag.

With encouragement and alternate seated options provided, children will usually naturally transition away from W sitting. However, if you are concerned about their sitting habits or development, it is always recommended to consult your pediatrician.

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But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

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A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.


An easy-to-clean high chair

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.


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Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.


A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.


A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

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Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.


A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.


A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.


Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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