Sitting is a huge milestone for babies and parents. It is a sign that your baby is becoming more independent and often can entertain himself for a longer period of time. Typically, sitting occurs around 6-9 months in development.
Most parents would agree that sitting is a really important skill. Once a child can sit, they are on the right track to progress their development right? Not necessarily. Sitting is a very important skill, but many times families work on sitting too much and miss the important pieces that lead up to sitting which include transition skills, such as rolling from back to stomach and stomach to back, transitioning from sitting to the floor and transitioning from the floor to sitting. Further, once children learn to sit many families no longer place their child in other positions besides sitting. This limits the child’s ability to work on their transition skills (rolling, moving in and out of sitting) because they do not have a strong desire to move out of sitting. I often have done evaluations of children who sat at 6 months, but did not progress beyond sitting because they did not have the foundational skills necessary to progress their gross motor skills. In my opinion, as a pediatric physical therapist, if a child is not sitting independently at six months old, but is rolling around the room, pulling themselves forward on his or her bally and/or pushing themselves backwards, I am happy. My goal is always to get a child to move about his environment independently so that he can learn from his environment. I want the child to be able to get the toy that is just out of reach, not play only with a toy that is handed to him or her. THIS is how a baby learns. As a pediatric physical therapist, I want kids to get into “trouble” by getting caught with her legs under the couch because she pushed herself backwards!
The purpose of this post, as with all of my posts, is to provide you with ACTION steps that you can take to progress your baby beyond sitting . . . exercises that you can do today to progress your baby’s gross motor skills and allow your child to learn from his or her environment. Whether you are worried about your baby’s development or not, these activities will help you to progress your baby’s skills and will help your baby to develop smooth, coordinated movement.
Activity 1:Transition to sitting
If you have not started yet, click here to check out my blog post, Baby Time: Is there a best way to pick up baby?
Using this method to pick up your baby will strengthen his or her lateral (side) trunk and neck muscles as well as arm and hip muscles necessary to teach your child to how to transition from the floor to sitting on her own. As your baby gets older and stronger, she will start doing more of the work and you will do less of the work!
Activity 2: Toy Placement to the SIDE not in front
When your baby is sitting, it is tempting to place his toys right in front of him so they are within reach. However, when you do this, your child is just moving in the front and back plane, not strengthening the muscles side to side. Therefore, making a very simple change, by placing toys to the side of the baby helps the baby learn to shift his weight side to side and strengthens the muscles of the trunk and hips aiding the baby in learning transitions between movements.
Place toy to the side just out of reach.
Baby gets the toy and sits up on his own. Early on put toy closer, later as your baby gets stronger, put toy farther away.
Activity 3: Don’t put your baby in sitting all the time!
It is so tempting to put your baby in sitting all the time once she learns how to sit. However, it is very important that you still put your baby on her tummy so that she can practice reaching, rolling and weight shifting in preparation for crawling. I have a rule that I created for infants called the TBS rule, click here to check out this blog post about the TBS rule, What is a baby container . . . and why is it bad? Once a baby learns how to sit, you can still apply the TBS rule, except replace the swing/seat with sitting. The goal is to allow your baby to move around before you place him or her in a static position.
Adding these simple changes can help your baby improve her movement patterns BEYOND sitting!
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