Please also see Does Your Baby Love to Stand? Here’s What You Need to Know >
What if you’ve already stood Baby?
If you’ve already stood your baby, it’s okay! Pleaes do not worry, but here’s what you need to know. There are some things you can do.
When I work with families, there’s usually a reason Baby seems like he wants to stand, and you may have picked up on this without knowing. What we want to do is dig deeper and find out where it’s really coming from.
So if you’ve already stood your baby, begin by noticing how often it happens. Do you hold him up by hand, use a device, or both?
Once you have clarity on when and how it’s happening, start by reducing the amount of time he’s in standing.
Continue increasing the amount of time he spends in “floor time” vs being stood up. As he’s ready to explore pulling up and standing on his own, it’s fun for him to do so on you! You can become a ‘human jungle gym’ (that’s a good thing!) in place of holding him in standing.
Pro tip: if you find he gets fussy or upset as you do it less, that’s normal! He may need to “let off some steam” and have a cry in your arms with your loving attention. Taking them out of standing when it’s become a favorite go to can be like releasing a pressure valve. He may need to release some of the stimulation he’s gathered from being upright. Or, the stimulation of standing may have been masking a deeper need to release some big feelings. More on that here > https://consciousbaby.com/crying-is-a-need-too/
What to look for in your baby
I hope you know that all is well—this isn’t about judgment, but insight. This knowledge about early standing is one of those pieces of wisdom parents tell me “I wish I had known.”
But it’s not something you “should” already know innately. Common parenting advice teaches the opposite—to help your baby practice milestones. Unless you have specific training in movement, yoga, or bodywork, you may not be able to spot the tension in your baby’s response to being stood up.
So here’s how you can start detecting for yourself. When you’re holding your baby up in standing, see if you can see or feel little wriggles—tiny adjustments in his body. Parents often assume baby is “learning to hold himself up.” What’s really happening is many, many tiny falls–and many, many attempts at catching himself.
Keeping Baby upright before he can do so by himself, either by hand or in a device, is called propping.
When I work with families, here are some of the effects I see, so that you can look for these too. Remember, this is not a judgment—this is so you have the power in your hands to monitor your baby’s responses.
- Do Baby’s legs seem stiff? Is it hard to bend his legs? Does he tend to hold his foot cocked at an angle or is it relaxed?
- When he’s lying down, does he extend his arm to stop himself from rolling? This means his brain and reflexes may be working a little too hard to protect him.
- Does he fall over from sitting and not try to catch himself? This means some of his reflexes may need a little help waking up.
- Does he seem fussy after standing or before sleep? He may have taken in more stimulation than he was able to process.
- Does he become upset if he “asks” to be stood and doesn’t get it? Partly, this is a signal he’s become dependent on you to get him in and out of the position. And then partly, there are likely some deeper pent-up feelings behind the upset, and the standing has become a distraction. The gem is that those feelings have been revealed, and you’re now empowered to hold space for him and meet the original deep-down need!
If you have a gut feeling that something’s off, or baby seems delayed or like he’s giving up, please reach out. Many babies benefit from support, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong or bad about you or your baby.
What to do instead
By allowing your baby to find a standing position on his own, you’ll reduce—and typically avoid—some of the difficulties we see when babies aren’t able to access rolling or crawling.
If your instinct has been to bring Baby up to a higher ‘level’ so he can interact with you face to face, keep that instinct! Baby loves your face (and you)!
What you can do instead is switch things around so that you take yourself down to your baby’s natural level. Make the floor your go-to and join Baby down there.
If you find yourself standing your baby, you may have a hard time trying to bend his legs from there because he’s held captive by a smart reflex. What you’ll need to do is pick him up to “unhook” his feet from the surface they’re touching, then scoop under him so he’s more curled in a ball.
If family, friends, or caregivers like to stand your baby, talk with them if possible and share what you’ve learned. Aim for 90% unpropped, and don’t stress!
Enjoy your baby and, most importantly, be curious about the movements and discoveries your baby shows you, no matter how small!
For more tips on how to get started with ‘Baby-led’ motor development, read more here >