“Yesterday was a big day because Zahra sat all by herself! She is so happy! Of course, I had to put her in this position first. She can’t take her hands off her feet because she falls backwards. I keep her safe by putting soft pillows and blankets all around her and sitting with her while she plays.”
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 is becoming more confident with sitting balance and reaching. She reaches to grab her favorite stuffed animals when they are placed just in front of her feet. Gradually, Zahra is spending less time propping to keep her balance. This gives her more opportunities to play with both of her hands on her favorite toys.