Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year: Part 4 – Sitting

We’re back with our second week of our series on major milestones in your baby’s first year.  Today we’re talking about sitting.  You probably won’t be surprised to learn that all those great strengthening activities and skills your baby has learned doing tummy time, back playtime, side lying and rolling are exactly how she will learn to sit independently.

Independent sitting usually occurs around seven or eight months of age.  This is when your baby will probably be able to get into a sitting position on her own, sit upright without support and shift her weight while sitting (such as leaning forward to reach a toy).  Your baby may be able to sit unassisted at around six months if placed in a sitting position, however your goals should be to allow your baby to learn how to sit by getting into her own sitting position and feel confident about it.

Major Developmental Milestones in your Baby’s First Year: Part 4 - SittingTo reach this stage of independent sitting, your baby will need to achieve several smaller milestones first.  The process includes neck control during tummy time, holding her head up when she’s being held upright, sitting with a caregiver’s support, sitting using a dynamic surface (like a boppy), sitting using her own hands for support, and sitting for short periods unassisted but with a caregiver close by for safety.  The final step is independent sitting.

Helping your baby progress through these stages is essential to her successful sitting.  Start with lots of tummy time and add in some variations, such as using a therapy ball, wedge or disc.  Then have your baby practice supported sitting on these surfaces as well as your lap.  Challenge your baby’s core strength by having to correct her positioning and balance herself when you move the support surface.  Also practice moving your baby from various lying positions into a sitting position.

Occupational therapists do not recommend sitting contraptions that support a baby in a sitting position if your baby would not otherwise be able to sit.  Instead, they encourage other methods for stabilizing your baby as a better route to independent sitting.  You can use a boppy, storage bin, baby bathtub, pack-n-play or the corner of a room (with a little added cushioning) to help your baby sit upright.

Sitting gives your baby new perspective on the world.  Playtime will take on new meaning when your baby can sit and manipulate toys in front of her.  This is also a great opportunity for older siblings to have some meaningful playtime with your baby at their own level.  Remember, fostering independent, functional sitting through strength-building and practice will produce a confident and proud sitter.

Tomorrow we’re getting back down on all fours to talk about crawling!

Sources:  MamaOT and Dinosaur Physical Therapy