Sitting independently is a wonderful and fun new milestone for every baby. It is the first time your little one is upright and able to look around. In the sitting position, babies have both hands free to play with toys. Although there is a healthy range of ages for a child to achieve the milestone of sitting independently, a good rule of thumb is that a baby should sit independently for longer than a minute at six months of age. If your baby needs some encouragement to sit on her own, there are strategies you can use to help.
3 Helpful Tips to Encourage Your Baby to Sit Independently:
- Give them support – but not too much! Place your hands low on your baby’s trunk, or gently hold onto his hip bones with your hands. The lower you provide the support, the more your child will have to use his tummy muscles to stay upright. Lessen the support as he becomes more stable.
- Let them topple over – gently. If a baby begins to topple over, it is a parent’s natural instinct to catch the falling child. However, if done too much, this can prevent the baby from learning righting reactions and how to stop herself from falling over. If your baby starts to lose balance, use your hands to stop the fall, but still allow her to get to her back or belly. This will allow you baby to learn that next time she starts to tip over, she needs to use her hands or muscles to stop the fall. You can place blankets around the baby to create a softer ground on which to collapse. Also note that it is acceptable to use a Boppy pillow to help your child to sit occasionally. However, babies often just learn to lean on them instead of developing the muscles needed to sit on their own, so limit the use of Boppy pillows during sitting time.
- Use toys. A baby learns to prop himself on his hands at around 4 or 5 months. To encourage your baby to lift his hands off the ground, hold a toy in front of him so that he has to reach up to grab the toy. A larger toy that requires two hands to grip is ideal to use so that the baby lifts both hands. Two small toys also work.
If you find that your baby is having difficulty sitting independently, or if you find that your baby seems to “flop over” whenever you put her in a sitting position, contact one of our pediatric physical therapists. Some babies need extra help to strengthen core and back muscle to assist with sitting, which can easily be addressed by a physical therapist.