“Zahra has been practicing and yesterday she sat all by herself! Of course I had to put her in this position first, but she is so happy! She can’t take her hands off her feet or else she falls backwards. I put soft things all around her so she is safe, even though I’m still right there.”
Zahra is five-months old and has attained the developmental milestone of sitting independently. Her parents are proud and it is easy to see that Zahara is proud too. What are the building blocks for independent sitting?
First, Zahra must find a stable base of support as she sits. This foundation not only includes her sit bones but her legs and feet as they contact the ground to create a large circular base.
Secondly, her body must be stable with a balance of flexion and extension in the muscles of the pelvis, back and neck. The bowl of Zahra’s pelvis sits within her base of support. This alignment activates Zahra’s core muscles as she sits to play.
At first, babies must support their balance with their hands either on the floor or on their own legs or feet; this is called tripod sitting. Over time, with balance practice and increased motor control, babies become able to take one hand off momentarily, or stabilize while they are handling a toy with both hands.
Zahra’s mom enjoys placing favorite stuffed animals between Zahra’s feet as she gets confident with sitting balance and reaching. Zahra takes her hands off the floor and explores the toys, spending less and less time propping against a stable surface.