If you’ve ever tried holding your baby up in standing, you’ve probably found Baby is able to do so with help and seems to love it.

But there are some magical and important things that happen when babies find standing completely on their own that I want you to know about!

The wonders of “baby-led” standing

It’s easy to assume babies need to be taught or helped, or that they need to practice milestones like sitting, standing, and walking.

But babies actually learn best when they discover and practice these milestones completely on their own, without help!

When you can allow your baby to find his own way up to standing, you’ll provide an automatic foundation of good body mechanics and self-confidence.

You’ll know his brain and body are ready because he’s doing it himself. If he hasn’t gotten there on his own yet, he’s still building the strength and coordination for it while he’s on his tummy, crawling on hands and knees, or kneeling.

In order to stand upright on 2 feet, we humans need leg joints we can depend on. We need enough strength in our torso to handle all of our body weight transferring down through each vertebra (the small but sturdy bones that stack up to form our spine), all the way down to the tiny bones in our feet. We need ankles that can handle this onslaught!

How does he prepare for this feat? Actually, not by practicing standing, as you might guess!

Crawling on hands and knees helps form the “socket” part of Baby’s hip joints for this very job. All the previous milestones help prepare his feet and ankles and give his torso the strength he needs.

The ironies of teaching standing

Ironically, by doing less to assist your baby in standing, you’ll help your child more. By following a truly baby-led approach, he’ll be safer.

As he progresses through his milestones, his brain is “measuring” distance from the floor. Pretty cool! More here > 

This means if he’s allowed to find his own way up to standing, his brain will have a better grasp of what’s happening if he falls. When he finds standing himself, he will know how he got there; then he can work on how to get down from there.

If he’s used to someone else doing it for him—well, that’s what he gets used to. He doesn’t have the same opportunity to gauge where he is in relation to the ground and to learn for himself what he is and isn’t capable of.

There are many more benefits to a fully baby-led approach! Read more about them here >

Early standing and why babies love it

Standing Baby up usually comes with loving intentions! You may find he takes easily to standing. So you might be surprised to learn that your baby isn’t actually standing per se—at least not intentionally.

His brain is actually triggering reflexes. When the soles of a young baby’s feet touch something, his legs will automatically straighten. He can’t not “stand.”

That urge to thrust his legs also helped him be born by reflexively pushing out of the birth canal (if your baby was C-section, he likely still felt this urge).

This means his early standing is reflexive, rather than intentional. Intentional standing is the legit motor milestone that comes later, often around (but not limited to) 7 to 11 months.

We do need to check these reflexes—they give us a lot of information about your baby’s body. But while reflexive movement does pave the way for the intentional movements you’ll be looking for later, it’s not where you want to create a habit.

Your baby is already very driven! A typically developing baby’s brain arrived already programmed with reflexes that will kick off one after another and eventually “make” him stand up. Trust that when he’s ready, he’ll do it.

Continue to part 2, What if you’ve already stood Baby, What to look for, and What to do instead >