You may have heard your child’s SLP repeatedly tell your child “Criss-Cross Applesauce”. But why? What was likely happening was that your child was using a “W” sitting posture. This sitting position is when a child’s bottom is planted between the feet. When you look at the child’s legs, they form a “W”. Many children sit this way during play, but according to Advance Magazine for Physical Therapists, it should be corrected whenever observed.
First, this type of posture can lead to orthopedic concerns. “W” posture leads to an extreme rotation of the hips. This could lead to future hip dislocation, particularly if the child already has hip dysplasia. “W”-sitting posture can also worse pre-existing conditions, such as placing muscle groups in shortened positions.
Furthermore, according to Advance magazine, when a child utilizes a “W”-sitting posture, they are not using their trunk muscles. This means the trunk isn’t challenged to stabilize itself (think of sitting on an exercise ball versus the floor as an adult), which then means balance may be slower to develop. Additionally, with this position, a child does not need to use trunk rotation or side-to-side weight shifting, which can lead to avoidance of midline orientation. Generally, children will bring their hands together at midline to manipulate objects; however, when utilizing a “W”-sitting posture, the right hand tends to stay on the right side of the body. The same is true for the left hand. This disrupts bilateral hand use and the development of future hand preference. Additionally, children often will not cross mid-line because they do not need to shift their weight or use their trunk muscles to rotate toward that favorite toy.
Well, now for the big questions: what to do? Prevention is best, so if you see a child about to ‘W”-sit, try to prevent it. If it’s already happened, then try change the position immediately. Often, a simple “Criss-Cross Applesauce” will cue the child into changing the position. If you are frequently observing “W”-sitting posture, you may wish to consult a physical therapist for additional information.