Move and Play Paediatric Therapy

Move and Play Paediatric Therapy

There are many developmental activities that children do at a table – eating, learning to hold pencils, draw and write, reading, homework, and fun fine motor activities such craft and playdoh. To provide your child with the best chance at succeeding at these activities, it might be a good idea to make sure  your child has an ideal sitting posture first. The posture your child is sitting in can significantly impact on your child’s pencil skills, grip strength, ability to manipulate objects, their concentration, and their overall ability to be able to do the activity.

What is an optimal sitting posture for tabletop activities?

To provide your child with optimal support when they are sitting, you should aim for a 90-90-90 position.  This means there is:

  • A 90 degree angle at their ankles, and their feet are flat on the floor (or on a step or foot stool)
  • A 90 degree angle at their knees so that their thighs are fully supported on the seat of the chair
  • A 90 degree angle at their hips

In addition, the table height should allow your child’s elbows to rest comfortably on the top, usually at elbow height or just a little higher than elbow height.  If the table top is too low your child will end up hunched forwards, and too high they will end up scrunching their shoulder up high, both of which can lead to back pain or shoulder pain.

Common mistakes of sitting posture at home:

  • Sitting on an adult sized chair, at an adult table – your child’s feet will not be touching the ground, and the table height will be too high for them
  • Sitting on a booster seat – this is better than sitting just on an adult sized chair as it brings the child up and the table height is more likely to be better, but their feet remain unsupported
  • Sitting at a kids sized table that is too small – this occurs when your child has outgrown the kids sized table, but is not yet big enough for an adult sized table. At the kids table they are too big and their body is cramped up, but at the adults table there are too small.

So, what can I do at home to improve my child’s sitting posture?

Unfortunately most household items are not designed for children (eg: adult sized chairs), or are not adjustable enough to accommodate for when children grow (eg: kids table and chairs).  So you might need to make some modifications or look out for some alternative options:

  • Get your child to sit on a booster seat or some large books to bring them up to the correct height at the table (make sure it is safe for them to get up onto it)
  • Put something under their feet to rest their feet on – this can be a child’s chair, a footstool, an ottoman, some steps, or some old phone books or text books
  • Use an alternative seat at your dining table, like a Mocka high chair or a Stokke Tripp Trapp chair, which allows the seat to be brought up to the right height for your child, and the footplate can be adjusted to support your child’s feet.
  • Use an adjustable height kids table and chairs set. These allow you to set both the chair and the table at the right height for your child, and then also adjust it as your child grows.

As you can also imagine, your child might benefit from a combination of these options – maybe an adjustable height chair to sit at the family dining table for meals, and then an adjustable height kids table and chair for their craft and play activities.

Having an ideal chair and table set up for your child will make it easier for them to do those activities successfully, and which makes life easier for you as a parent?


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We reap what we sow