Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Sudden Significance of W

Tarana took her time to sit without support. At her seventh month check-up, she was still not sitting unsupported. She was crawling and trying very hard to pull herself into a standing position but she would not sit. And then one fine day, she plopped herself down into this position:

For the next couple of weeks, she would sit in this position for short bursts of time before crawling away. But by the time she approached the age of nine months, she could comfortably sit in this position for extended periods of time. She was unable to sit in any other position without support. If you sat her down with her legs out in front, she'd either put her hands down to support herself or crawl away. Either way, she'd be back into her favourite posture within seconds.

At first, I wasn't worried. I thought the way she was sitting was a lot like the vajrasana yoga pose, that is said to be very beneficial for both the body and the mind; so I thought it was kind of cool that she was sitting like this.

But then a friend saw the picture above and said that in kids, that posture is called w-sitting (in any case, it is not really vajrasana since in that your bum is not supposed to touch the floor) and that is not always such a great thing in babies and kids. So I consulted Dr. Google and was alarmed to find that amongst other things, w-sitting can lead to orthopaedic problems and interfere with the development of refined motor skills. (Quotable quote from a friend that must be shared here: Do not consult Dr. Google. He didn't go to med school)

Somewhat freaked out, I brought this up with our regular paediatrician. He did a detailed check-up and evaluated her muscle tone, reflexes, etc; and said that there did not appear to be any problem. He suggested that we wait till her tenth month appointment and prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements. He mentioned that if there was no improvement, physiotherapy might be required.

I decided to get a second opinion. This doctor also did a detailed check-up and could find nothing wrong. But he did suggest that we get x-rays and blood tests to rule out vitamin D and calcium deficiencies conclusively. These reports have all come back completely normal. He suggested that we consider starting some form of physiotherapy to help Tarana sit properly, before the w-sitting habit became ingrained. He reassured us that it was not a big deal and they would just teach me some exercises to do with her regularly that out to sort her out.

We decided to wait a couple of weeks till we meet our regular doctor and then decide on the course of action. Meanwhile, we keep trying to plop her down with her legs in front, but she won't stay that way over a couple of seconds before manoeuvering herself back into the W. Occasionally one of her legs will come forward while the other stays curled up behind but that's about it. Meanwhile, she is now expertly cruising so it's only the sitting that seems to be a problem.

So anyway, her tenth month appointment is early next week. Let's see what the doctor has to say...


  1. Anonymous4:43 pm

    I don't think it's a really big deal. All the kids in my father's side of the family started off sitting like this (including my own two children)and they're all fine. My three-year-old switches between w-sitting and regular sitting without a problem and my seven-year-old has completely outgrown it.

  2. Ohhh! Is this why so many people have commented and pointed to Dhruv sitting like this? I was always flummoxed when ppl ranging from ancient aunties to teenagers pointed to his style of sitting.

    But he's fine now at ortho probs. Or motor developmental delays. He still sits like that occasionally, but soon shifts to a 'padmasana' or sort of more of a vajrasana. In fact his gross motor coordination is advanced...I'm the mom beaming on the playgrounds and sports fields!

    I wouldn't freak out if I were you. Dr. Google has had me having panic attacks over nothing hundreds of times. If everything else is fine...just enjoy her cuteness.

    Btw...she's gotten soooo big! OMG!

  3. Anonymous5:08 pm

    Hey Ro, my daughter used to sit excatly the same way and that continued to be her preferred position for some time. When she was crawling, it was just a more convenient way to stop and sit in that position i guess. She outgrew it herself and she is really good with her motor skills etc. Don't worry.

  4. All the same, I'm glad you're keeping an eye on it and getting it checked out. Tho' it's likely to be totally normal.

    I know that out of the 100 signs and milestones I worried about, there were a couple that were off, delayed etc, and they did mean something and pointed us to early intervention that seems to have taken care of the problem. Hope the tenth mth appt rules out any issues.

  5. Anonymous7:52 pm

    kids in the family have started out sitting that way and outgrown it with no evidence of motor skills related problems ..... Still its good you're getting it checked out.

  6. Ro, my mom says that this is a fairly common problem in babies who don't get out in the sun too often. Explore this?

  7. Just landed on your blog... Its good to have it checked out no harm done. My daughter who is now 2.5 used to sit in W for a while, and then she got excited about aalti paalti and now she sits like that. My daughter was a late crawler but early walker... basically, she pretty much skipped crawling... now she is fine.

  8. Anonymous11:51 pm

    My daughter, now 8, also was a W-sitter as a baby, who seemed to dislike sitting in any other position - she cruised and walked before she was 1. Unlike your other commenters, we did have, not quite a problem, more a 3, we noticed her walk was pigeon-toed (toes turned in, wearing on the inside of her shoe-soles), and had her evaluated. She turned out to have hip joints that turned in, but did have normal range of motion as well (i.e. the joints weren't permanently turned in) The doc's opinion was that while it might make her a fantastic ballet dancer :) what she needed was to train herself to walk straight. At 3 she was too young to do so by instruction - it needed to become learned muscle memory. The ped. Ortho suggested martial arts, so she started Taek-won-do at 3 - was the absolute baby of the class, but the teachers were very supportive, providing specific exercises to make her walk straight - now, 5 years on, her walk is straight, she's still has full range of motion in her hips (but HATES formal dance of any kind and refuses to learn :)) and is a black belt in Taek-won-do :) All this just to say, continue to keep an eye on her and have her evaluated regularly.


  9. When Little Planet was learning to sit up we would sit her down in the preferred position (with legs out in front of her) and sit kneeling behind her gently supporting her hips with our knees. Gradually, over weeks, we moved our knees away a little bit at a time but stayed behind her to support her when/if she toppled. She soon learned to balance herself. Could you try this?

  10. Hope the doc says everything is Ok.

  11. now that i remember Cub used to sit like this for a wile. but he does have a very mild hypotonia (and you can still see some signs in him), but he outgrew this stuff and is now fairly on par with other kids.

    glad you got it checked. am sure it wont turn out to be anything serious!



  12. Ro, until now I have never felt that there was absolutely anything of concern in sitting this way. Both my kids sit only int his style. Appu has outgrown this tough somewhere done the line. Aarush will not sit in any other way. And there is no problem (touch wood) with their motor skills. Appu is an amazing swimmer and Aarush started walking perfectly during his 11th month. Still its better to have this checked up. I will take it up with the ped as well.

  13. My nearly two year old nephew used to sit like this till he was almost 14 months old, but he outgrew it on his own. His parents, who live in the US, were pretty freaked out about it too but their ped said it was okay for kids to sit like this. I think the only thing they did was give him a Vit D supplement which you're doing too. Don't worry, I'm sure everything will be ok!

  14. She's cruising? Oh my baby!

    It's hard to say without seeing her Ro, but I'm guessing she'll be fine, given she's using her legs and they seem straight and strong and everything.

    You know.

  15. I think she'll get over it in time. People (well wishers!) always want to know if your baby has achieved the "milestones" in time, but each kid is different. Let them take their time.

    But good that you're getting it checked, at least you won't panic as much, when the next person points out the w-position.

  16. Anonymous7:21 pm

    Nikki was sitting like this until about 2 years, he changed it by himself. My 4.5 year old niece still prefers to sit like this though she can comfortably sit cross-legged. And one of Nikki's friends (3.5 year old) sits like this, she has no developmental problems that i know of. She is well ahead of her age group w.r.t motor skills(gross & fine).


  17. All the preliminary test results are good. So I'm sure there's nothing to worry about!

    She'll probably start sitting 'properly' by her 1sy birthday.

    All will be well.

  18. This seems to be such a 'ready-for- more-action' pose. I didn't know of W sitting till recently. I'm sure that Tarana will be fine. All the best for the 10 month check up.

  19. Apparently this was my favorite way of sitting all through babyhood and I have turned out fine (even if I say so myself :-)) - so I vote for not worrying about it too much.

  20. Preeti6:14 pm

    Hi Ro. Both my nephew and my daughter sat/sit like this, and there seems to be no permanent damage done. They both still sit like this occasionally, but then get back to the cross legged position.
    Though my sis's doc DID raise a red flag on this, so we would keep correcting her son's posture whenever he did sit in the W pose. And same with L as well. And over time, they kind of correct themselves with just a verbal direction.
    So maybe you could just try training her as such to sit with her feet out, though as many have said, it may not really lead to anything serious which is what we experienced with our family kids as well.

  21. hey
    i checked with ma who says not only brother and i but a lot of other babies sat like this and there was nothing wrong with it. that we walked and crawled on time anyway - me a littler earlier than usual, in fact. i'd not think of this as a red flag, but your doc knows best

  22. Ariel7:28 pm

    My son would always sit in this position before he 'launched' himself to crawl. He pretty much stopped doing this when he started walking at 12 months with no correction from me.

  23. Hi Rohini,
    Here's my two bit. I am now in my early 30s. I have always sat in the W-sitting position (even today,although less often).

    One of the leading orthos I consulted, once told me it was called the TV watcher's position. It is not a normal position for the human body, and so can lead to some aches and pains at an older age. Although that did not apply in my case.

    The only problem that I see, it has led to, is a mild clicking noise in one of my knees when I change positions. With regular exercises, that too has been taken care off. No reason to fret.

    Interestingly my lil one who is now nearing 3yrs sits in the same position. So, all I do is correct her by letting her know that it can cause pain later when she is older. She promptly changes her position.

    Hope this helps
    Cheers :)

  24. hats off to you for noticing it! i cant even remember if my kids sat like that!

    and anything that bugs you - get the doc to check i'd say. has saved us many a times (esply with the NHS system in the UK ;))

  25. hugs ro I am sure it will all be fine, u are keeping such a close eye anyways :D

  26. It appears to be very common ... but pls consult your doctor.

  27. Hey everyone. Thanks so much sharing your experiences and advice. I am pretty sure this is not a big deal. But I have got two doctors saying it is best not ignored so I am just going to go see an paediatric physiotherapist and take it from there...

    Many of you mentioned that your kids sat like this or that you sat like this as kids. I think the concern in Tarana's case is not that she sits like this but that she cannot sit the regular way. If she was merely mixing up different postures, it would not be a matter of concern

    [Parul] Sun exposure is not a problem since we spend the entire morning in the living room, which is east-facing. Not that it helps in current weather, of course. Lack of sunlight usually caused Vitamin D deficiency, which has been ruled out in her case

    [PH/ Preeti] We do keep propping her into the right position but she stays like that for mere seconds. In a good mood, she will merely crawl away. In a bad mood, there is a meltdown. Plus she won't sit like that without support.

    [Abha] Hypotonia huh? Just googled it. They checked her for muscle tone and there seems to be no issue there

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  29. Hi,I appreciate that you have noticed your baby that how she sit and what's the reason for sitting like this.yeah its right that according to yoga classes sitting like W is not a Vajraasan. You need not to be worried about this because every child has to face this stage like this.So keep patience.

  30. Hi, my name is Steve and I can understand why you wory when your kid w-sits. It's up to you what you want to do about it but I wanted to mention that when I was six years old I saw someone w-sitting and thought it was interesting. So I tried sitting this way and quickly realized how comfortable this position was to me. Since then I have been w-sitting every day for super long periods of time to this day. I just turned 37 years old and still w-sit every day for hours at a time with ease and comfort. As far as I know I don't have any prblems with my knees, hips, or legs. I just can't sit any other way without aches and pains but when I w-sit I get instant and complete relaxation. This is only my experience. I wouldn't worry if your child has no problems but if I would still listen to your doctor because they know best.

  31. Hi Steve. Thanks so much for weighing in on this. I went through three months of physio with her and then shifted to a new city where two paediatricians told me that I didn't need to worry. So we are done with that. She still w-sits a fair bit and I correct her when she does that but I am leaving it at that.