Tips + Tricks: Sitting

We've talked about tummy time with your newborn, good head control with different play positions, and rolling both ways. What's the next big milestone? Sitting!

Let's first talk about the different ways to sit and the order in which they appear:

  1. Around 5 months, your little one will start sitting with some help. Typically, you can place them in a seated position, and they will place their hands in front to prop them up: "prop sit."
  2. Around 6 months, your little one might not need help maintaining a seated position, but still needs help to get into that position. At this time, they will sit with a straight back and their legs out in a big circle: "ring sit."
  3. Around 7 months, your baby can get into and out of a ring sitting position by themselves. When in sitting, they can turn their head and trunk to a toy and come back into a sitting position without falling over.
  4. Around 8 months, your baby can get into and out of sitting positions and can sit with their straight out in front "long sit"
  5. Around 9 months, your baby will add "side sit" and the occasional "w sit." Side sit is when the knees together are facing one way and the feet face the other way. W sit is when the knees are separated in front with feet turned back to their bottom. W sitting is okay when it is infrequent but should be corrected to prevent long term hip issues.

Ok, back to the beginning! What does it take for your little one to start sitting?!

  1. Postural Control
  2. Unrestricted Practice

Postural control is, put simply, the ability of your body to stay upright and balanced. This starts with the brain and how it reacts to sensory input. If someone pushes you forward, you can react by pushing back. If your eyes are open, it's easier to stand on one leg than when your eyes are closed. Your back muscles have to be just as strong as your ab muscles so one doesn't win over the other. Your brain takes in all this information and tells us where "upright" is. When your little one is learning to sit by themselves, their brains are working overtime to take in all this new information. Postural control is learned over time and gets better and better with #2, unrestricted practice.

Allowing your child time to play freely on the floor, without being in a swing or bumbo, is imperative to their learning. Practice, practice, practice makes progress! My favorite ways to encourage sitting are below starting, listed from the least restrictive to the most restricting.

  1. Sitting between a parent's legs
  2. Boppy pillow/stacked pillows
  3. A laundry basket
  4. Prop-a-pillar
  5. Sit me up chair

Providing 20 minutes of practice a day can help improve your little one's postural control to improve sitting. If they fling backwards or flop forwards, or if they are struggling to sit and are at or past the age ranges above, don't wait and see: give us a call!

-Dr. Cheyenne Allen, PT, DPT