Sitting is one of the first positions that babies learn and basically consists of learning to sit on their own. It is a natural process that begins to take shape when the neck muscles have become strong enough and the baby is already able to lift his head on his own. In most cases, this occurs after 6 months of age, but in some children it can occur earlier or later without this meaning that there is a problem, as revealed by an analysis of the La Paz Children’s Hospital.
In the first phase of sitting, it is the hip extensors that help stabilize the pelvis by keeping it perpendicular to the ground, since this will be the base that will allow the baby to later achieve trunk stability. At this time, it is common for him to still use his hands for balance and to stay seated longer.
Subsequently, what is known as “ring sitting” appears, a position in which the child remains seated with the legs flexed forming a kind of ring. However, it will not be until later, around 7 or 8 months, that the baby will be able to sit with the legs extended, with more abduction and less external rotation of the hips. At this point, most children already combine sitting in a ring and sitting with legs extended.
Little by little, the child will achieve lateral sitting, in which he can rotate his head and trunk to one side and shift his body weight to that side. In this position, the baby is able to rotate one leg out and one leg in, which gives him a greater base of support and helps him gain balance faster. However, it will not be until around the tenth month that the baby will reach a truly stable sitting position, with good control of the trunk and pelvis, complete freedom of the arms and the ability to change from one position to another.
Why is correct sitting important?
Sitting is one of the postures most used by the child from an early age. Learning to sit not only allows you to gain motor and postural control, but also gives your baby greater freedom of hands and arms to reach objects easily. It also contributes to the good muscular development of the head and trunk, preparing the little one for later crawling and walking.
The acquisition of a sitting position promotes the development of more symmetrical postures, thus preventing the risk of bone and muscle alterations or deformities. This position also improves breathing, while offering greater autonomy with a lower energy cost. Of course, it also offers the little one a better visual field, a fundamental condition for the development of their perception and their senses.
It is worth noting that just as important as achieving a sitting position is learning to sit well. It is known that inadequate postures can affect the motor and bone development of children. Such is the case of the W posture, one of the most used by babies because it offers greater stability and balance, but which, in the long run, can cause internal rotation of the hips, muscle shortening and even delays. in trunk control and balance. Also, keeping the feet in the wrong orientation can promote tibial torsion.
How to know if the baby is ready?
In most cases, sitting down occurs naturally. We will know that the baby is trying to learn to sit if she is able to sit up in her chair when she goes for a walk or, if she is on her back, she turns to face down and vice versa. Attempts to sit up on her own can also be a sure sign that the sitting process has begun.
As this is a natural process, it is important that parents do not force their children to sit up before they are ready as it could backfire and, in the worst case, cause serious bone or muscle injuries to babies. Of course, once children try to sit up on their own, it is recommended to stimulate them to facilitate the process and correct their posture from an early age.
Keys for stimulating the baby to sit up on his own
Encouraging the baby to sit up on his own will not only motivate him to achieve a sitting position sooner but will also help him to strengthen the trunk and neck muscles more easily. Here are some exercises you can do with your little one at home to help them sit up on their own faster and more safely:
Place the baby on a blanket on the floor and encourage him to do activities and move around that space. You can place some toys on them so that they have to reach for them while training their hip mobility and stretching their spine. While he’s lying down, you can also tickle him, a really fun trick to get him to stretch and get most of his muscles moving.
Use the same blanket on the floor to lay the baby on his tummy and encourage him to roll over on his own. This is a very important exercise to strengthen the hip muscles and stimulate lateral movement in the child. To add a dose of fun to the exercise you can place toys on his back so that the child is motivated to turn around to go for them.
Sit the baby on your lap, making sure to place your hand behind his back to provide support. Try taking your hand off his back for a few seconds so he can balance on his own. Before he starts to fall, hold him again to avoid injuring his spine. While you do the exercise you can sing a fun song to keep him attentive.
Once the child begins to sit up on his own, you can use toys or objects to stimulate his balance and train his arm movements. To offer him greater stability and correct his posture from an early age you can use pillows or cushions around him.
Keep in mind that each child is different and it may take longer for your baby to acquire a sitting position. However, if you notice that a long time has passed and the little one cannot sit up on his own, it is recommended to go to the pediatrician to evaluate his case since he may need specific exercises to achieve a sitting position.