True self-discovered, baby-led (not taught), independent sitting comes later than many people think–later than common recommendations, which are based on Baby being placed. Here’s how it can happen in a typical progression. Time spent in each element can vary greatly.
PART 1 (Hey, we gotta get to know gravity first . . . stay with me!)
Rest into Loved-One’s arms, into gravity, bonding with my support, loved.
Turn my head. Fall into gravity. Roll roll roll rollllllll….
On tummy: push happens.
Hey! Push! pushing into the earth, lifting head, supporting on forearms
Pushing up up up!
Push push push slide.
Slide in a circle, wheee!, pivot on belly
Pushing up up UP! Up high on hands
Push push push sliiiide. Slide—
Push. Slide BACKWARDS. Darn it! I want that!
Toes chit-chat with the floor. BIG TOE plays with the floor, has conversations.
My weight shifts over to one side, frees one of my arms to play.
Yeah! Hangin’ out with one knee bent out to the side. Playing. Curious.
Push backwards + one knee pops out to the side + big toe chit-chats with the floor + I want that toy = forward.
FORWARD! Got it!
Toy (or Mama, or Mama’s lunch) and one arm free with a toe-push forward, coordinating hand with eye.
PART 2 (We’re getting there…)
Pushing pushing, all around, in circles, backward, forward.
Body weight shifts onto one side, then the other.
Slip ‘n Slide!
Pushing, squishing into myself and unfolding out.
Push, weight-shift, on my side-ish, twist, and upward.
! Push and upward on my side!
On my side, on my side…
Again. Tummy, then side, then up on elbow and hip.
Again. Tummy, then side, then up on hands and hip.
Look how high I am!
Measuring, sensing, reading my distance from the floor. Back and forth. I know where I am. And how I got here.
Down. Up. Down. Up. Down into the floor. Up out of the floor. Balancing, playing, whoops!—down.
Push. On side, up on hand, on hip, hands free.
Hands free! Hahahaaa!!! I’m all the way up here with both hands free!
Oh, everyone says I’m “sitting.”
PART 3 So many options! From sitting, Baby can go down to his tummy or reach onto his hands and knees.
Some babies play in a “weeble” motion.
Down the way I came. Up the way I came. Down again. Or, up one side and down the other. Down one side and up the other.
Sit, whee go off to the side, put weight on both hands, sit on the other side, whee, spinning in a weeble circle!
And that, my friends, is the dance of independent sitting. The typical expectation is to prop-sit babies; but I support you in not propping Baby in sitting, but rather witnessing with joy as she discovers it on her own!
Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Aware Parenting Instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, and Feldenkrais® Practitioner.
© Eliza Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)
2 questions. 1) My baby doesn’t like being cradled, how can I hold him that isn’t in a propped position? 2) If he hasn’t started sitting on his own by the time he needs to start solids, what do you recommend?
Hi Kathryn, Thanks for your questions. 1) Not liking being cradled can be indicative of something else going on, which often can be a need to cry in arms and release some feelings (not CIO), or otherwise could be something digestive or a signal that gentle bodywork could be helpful. 2) Sitting for short periods of time for feeding will be okay; if your baby is generally not propped up or in devices, he’ll get plenty of floor time with free movement.
What a wonderful way of putting it into ordinary, every day words, making it accessible for us to understand the experience of sitting from the viewpoint of the child. Thanks
Eliza, great stuff, I love it! I am presenting at the PAMA-MTNA joint session in Chicago this coming Saturday and would like to ask permission to use some photos in my powerpoint presentation comparing movement development in babies to the hand’s acquiring movement habits at the keyboard. Would it be OK to use these great pics? Alan Fraser, firstname.lastname@example.org
I love this post. I wrote one very similar a couple months ago. But I love the format and point of view of this one. And the message right on!
Here’s my post: http://www.moveplaygrow.com/what-is-independent-sitting/
Just when I was about to ask, when is my baby going to learn to sit up on her own, here it is! Thanks – as always!!
You’re welcome, so happy to be of service! Enjoy witnessing your baby discovering sitting!
Hi Eliza – am I able to share this with our team of infant teachers? I would like to give them a hard copy……please let me know if that’s okay. Tessa
Yes indeed, and thanks so much for sharing!
my favouite bit: the toe having a conversation with the floor! i LOVE that, it fills me with such lovely thoughts and ideas – thank you
you’re welcome! I had fun with that bit myself 🙂
Eliza, you are a wordsmith for baby explorations and have such a patient eye with a camera. Thank you for posting this!
Really enjoyed reading this. No technical jargon, just fun language, easy to relate to. Babies are really prewired to develop at their own rate. LOVE IT. Coral
Thanks! oooh and thanks for the clue about technical jargon vs fun language, I’ll keep that in mind more often!
They are indeed; it’s such a joy to watch them develop in this way.
I like this one, Eliza! Such great pictures 🙂 So many children are propped in sitting so early! This supports me in remembering how every developmental pattern supports the next one in emerging fully. This post makes it clear how dynamic the process of coming into sitting can be.Thanks for writing!
Thanks; you’re welcome! Propping in sitting has become such a “norm” that some people lovingly don’t realize babies will actually do it on their own, unassisted. I want to bring awareness to this.
I don’t know which aspect of this post I like the most….the playful way you described the experience of exploring up to sit OR the wonderful photos that demonstrate the action. Definitely sharing!