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Sitting position and posture

  • Feeding and eating
Two toddlers eating fruit sitting at a child's table in a nursery setting. A carer is sitting behind them.

Having the right chair and table set up can help your child:

  • feel more comfortable when sitting
  • focus on tasks
  • improve their performance when doing tasks

What children who find sitting difficult may look like

Some children and young people can find sitting difficult. This may look like:

  • slumping when sitting
  • leaning on the table or other surfaces for support
  • fidgetting or adjustting their position regularly to find a comfortable position
  • kneeling on the chair or sit on their feet
  • wrapping their feet around the legs of the chair
  • perching on the front of the chair
  • falling off chairs

This can make it a lot harder for them to focus on their meal or activity. It can also be challenging for the parent and carers. Encourage them to have movement breaks by helping them clear things away or let them get up to get a drink.

Child's posture in standard seating video

Find out why posture is important, what skills we need to sit, what good posture looks like, how to identify a good chair for your child and how to adapt a chair for your child. 

Sitting position at a table

Your child should sit with their hips, knees and ankles all bent at 90 degrees. This is also known as 90/90/90. The table should be at a comfortable height. It should be slightly above their elbows when their arm is resting on the table.

If your child is not seated correctly when eating, they may have more difficulty with swallowing which could lead to choking. It can also make mealtimes exhausting for them. They may try to avoid eating meals or end mealtime sooner than they would have.

Things to consider:

  • Their back should be straight, resting on the back of the chair.
  • Their hips should be in a straight line with their back and should be against the back of the chair.
  • Their legs should be at a right angle to their back.
  • Their knees and ankles should be bent at right angles.
  • Their feet should be firmly supported.
  • Their food or activity should be at an easy to reach distance. If they are using a laptop, the screen should be at eye level. 
  • They should be looking ahead and their head should not be titled back or down. 
  • They should not be leaning forwards too much.
Child sitting on chair with back straight, looking ahead, hips in straight line with the back against the back of the chair, legs at a right angle to the back, knees and ankles at a right angle and feet firmly supported

Equipment to help with positioning at the table

Highchair, booster seat, booster seat strapped to a chair and a junior dining chair

Specialist seating

If your child has a Breezi chair or Heathfield that requires adjustment please watch the relevant video below. If your child has more complex seating that requires adjusting please contact your child’s occupational therapist.


Last reviewed: 19 January, 2024

Information

Who can help

If your child continues to have difficulties, please call us on 0300 029 50 50 (option 2, then option 2)

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)

You can also use our advice line or ask your child's school, nursery or health professional to complete a referral form and send it to us.

If you live in Peterborough, visit Peterborough Children's Occupational Therapy.

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