MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT: EARLY STANDING

I have a 4 month old baby and I don’t feel like we have been doing a good job of allowing tummy time.  He has great head control and is starting to do much better with tummy time.  He has not great interest in rolling over yet, but has shown some signs that he may start to.  When we pick him up to put him in our lap he extends his legs and assumes a standing position which he seems to enjoy quite a bit.  I have been able to hold his hands while he maintains his standing position, is this something that I should start discouraging or is it OK as long as I allow him to dictate whether or not he wants to stand?  On several occasions he will seemingly stand from a supported squatting position.  I just worry that I am doing more harm than good.

-From a concerned father

Stellar Caterpillar Answers:  What a great question you have asked!  Thank you.  It is good to hear that your baby has strong neck muscles for head control and is learning to enjoy tummy time.  At his age, these are two of the most important motor milestones he could learn and practice.  They develop baby strength and prepare the body for motor skills to come much later such as crawling and standing.  What is important to understand is that every baby has a reflex that makes them put their feet down in the standing position when they are held over your lap.  By “reflex,” we mean that baby does not want to stand, he has no choice but to stand.

Please read the following two posts to learn more about baby reflexes:

WHAT IS A BABY REFLEX

BABY STEPPING REFLEX

 

Often, the baby smiles when put in standing on his feet while in your lap.  This is because they like being on eye level with you.  If you put him on his tummy and get down on the floor on your tummy too, he will enjoy looking at you when he lifts his head.  And this is a better choice developmentally.  Please keep in mind that baby needs to strengthen his bones as well as his muscles before he can stand.  At 4 months old it is too soon to stand.  Thanks again for your question.  There is so much to learn about their development!

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