BABY SITTING: A POSITION OR A MOVEMENT ?
Ella’s mother expressed concern: “She is still not sitting up.” Ella was about six months old at the time. I asked the mother, “Is she rolling?” She replied, “She can roll from her belly to her back, but not from her back to her belly.” “Well,” I said,” that needs to happen before she can sit.” Sitting is a position that results from the movement skill of rolling. Rolling usually begins on the back and ends in one of several positions: lying on the back, lying on the belly, or sitting. Sitting is the most challenging of these three options because it involves the use of an arm to push against the floor to lift the torso up off of the ground. This makes it more of an advanced skill compared with rolling onto the belly or back. However, many times we see a parent propping the baby into the sitting position, and mommy puts her hand an inch behind baby’s back so that when baby losses balance, mommy will catch her. This shows that baby is not really ready to sit yet. When baby learns to sit up by rolling and then coming into the sitting position, baby has all of the strength and balance needed to stay in this position. Also, baby is not dependent. Baby got herself into the sitting position and she can get herself out of it, too, by reversing the movements. She leans onto one forearm, puts her head down, and rolls onto her back or belly.
ROLLING TO SIT AND BABY INDEPENDENCE
There is no question that the position of sitting demands balance and some muscle strength. However, we want to develop the optimal skill in baby’s movement along with a sense of independence. Have you seen a baby sitting, flapping her arms and crying for her mother to pick her up because she does not know how to get herself out of this position? She feels trapped and frustrated. We would like baby to be able to move herself in and out of the sitting position. Of course, this reminds me of Aya…when I arrived to give her a lesson, her father greeted me at the door with the baby video monitor in hand. He invited me in and said she was upstairs. Usually she was upstairs just waking from a nap when I arrived, so I asked if she was sleeping. He proudly thrust the video monitor toward me and said, “Not since you taught her how to sit up!” There she was, sitting up in her crib, having a great time with what she had done all on her own.