So far in our ABCs of Development series, we’ve talked about primitive reflexes and about how babies learn to explore their bodies and environments by rolling. Today, we’ll move on to another topic related to babies’ development: sitting.
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As it usually goes with child development, your baby will be ready for the next big milestone achievement well before you are! Little ones move through these early stages so incredibly fast!
When should your baby be able to sit up by themselves and see the world from a whole new perspective? Generally, babies are able to sit up, unsupported, between 4 and 7 months.
First, they have to gain the head, neck, and core strength to be able to hold themselves up against that pesky gravity! You can help your child develop the muscles she needs to sit by:
-Encouraging tummy time
-Letting her grasp your fingers to pull herself up to sit after you have changed her diaper
-Supporting her — but not restricting her (more on this later) — while she sits to play
-Propping her up to sit using a Boppy Pillow or couch cushions (staying very close for safety, of course).
As you practice these things, you will gradually notice that your child’s head will be more steady and upright on her shoulders, she will sway back and forth on her base of support less, and she will be able to maintain that position for longer periods of time.
Let’s go back to not restricting your baby while supporting her in a sitting position. Babies learn to transition through all phases of development by moving their bodies and experiencing the cause and effect of those movements.
If your baby topples while sitting, it’s okay! She learned that she has protective extension reflexes to keep her safe. She learned that she will have to get up and try it again. She learned that she can’t reach out so far for that shiny, colorful toy until she gets a bit stronger.
She also learned another important lesson — how to get out of sitting!! Granted, she will get a bit more graceful at it with practice! :) As a rule of thumb, don’t force your baby to sit with support until she begins to show signs of being able to get there herself!
Once she is sitting up, you will notice that your baby will begin to explore other positions. She may pivot to the side to grab her favorite toy. She may seemingly fold herself in half by reaching way forward over her legs. She may even get her legs tucked under her and find a w-sitting position. As she becomes more comfortable and confident in the sitting position, your baby will be on a mission to move and will eventually move onto all fours and steadily progress to crawling. Watch out! Bigger things, like walking (EEK!) will be here before you know it!
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