Sitting comes in stages and is not an all or none activity.
—At first, your baby will lean and seam to fall forward.
—This stage is usually quickly followed by propping on arms.
—After this, your baby will learn to lift first one and then both arms to play briefly, but will still need supervision and help to stay upright.
—Eventually, your baby will learn to hold sitting and finally be able to move in and out of sitting independently.
These stages are not always perfect and your baby may need help learning how. One of the first things I teach is a concept I named “The Mommy Chair” where you sit your baby between your legs and act as a support while your baby plays. You can start this out very early and slightly hold and allow your baby to lean back if needed to rest. As your baby improves with head and trunk control, reduce your help and challenge him or her to reach (first on the floor in front) in a variety of directions to improve his or her sitting balance.
Other ways to help your child with sitting balance:
1.) Use a laundry basket or box and sit your baby in the corner. Make sure you lean the side they are practicing on against a couch or sturdy piece of furniture OR load the box or basket with a sturdy baby proof toy. Don’t leave them unattended like this but you can sit beside your baby and interact with other children, etc.
2.) Sit your baby propped in the corner of his or her bed or playpen. Stay near to help your baby if he or she topples over and is not able to get back up.
3.) Sit your baby in the corner of a couch and a loveseat: either on the floor where two sturdy pieces of furniture meet and there is no space to fall between OR on the couch in a corner. NEVER leave your child unattended like this AND always be working with your child when he or she is in this position so that you can catch him or her if he or she loses balance or pitches forward. This is an excellent place to play pat-a-cake, etc or kneel in front and help your baby pat a book, etc.
4.) Gently tap or stroke my back or give gentle pressure to your child’s lower back. Vary what you do because the neurological system will turn off input if it is repeated over and over the same way.
5.) Start with giving a lot of support in the mommy chair or in any sitting position but decrease the hand support by moving your hands down to your baby’s hips when he or she can hold upright better. You can also move your baby away from you more to allow him or her to balance more on their own.
6.) Watch for “W” sit (legs both rotated out with soles of feet outward). This should be discouraged with verbal and physical cues like “sit right” or “fix your feet” . Eventually, your baby will hear you say the phrase and fix his or her legs without your help.
7.) Gradually increase the time in sitting. Just like tummy time, this position is hard and takes time to master. Your baby will like this more if he or she gets some breaks to rest.
8.) Having your baby reach up for bubbles, a toy, or to turn a page in a book will help him or her straighten his or her back. Play this game and watch as the back gets stronger each day.
Check out more ideas and games in my available books by clicking HERE