Helping your Baby Learn to Sit and Crawl
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Your babies are starting to show that they want a little independence but aren’t quite getting there on their own. Learning to sit up helps them strengthen their neck and back muscles and is one of the steps they master before learning to crawl! Here are a few tips from BabyFirst’s Chief Educational Officer, Benjamin Todd Eller, PhD.
Some parents tend to use a chair that supports their babies’ bottoms, but this is not ideal. These chairs do not support the babies’ necks and can sometimes cause Torticollis, a condition where the neck twists to one side, causing the head to tilt. Letting a child use natural movement and using yourself as a prop to support them is always preferred.
Sit upright on the floor and place the baby between your legs facing outward. Let them lean back on your stomach and, slowly, support them to sit upright by holding their back. Once you feel that they are balancing themselves, you can move one hand away. Only move it about an inch or so back so that if they start to topple over, you can quickly catch them without any sudden movements that might frighten them. If you feel your babies have enough balance with just your one hand there, keep it there for a while, letting them enjoy this new perspective! Once you feel your babies can balance on their own, remove your second hand from behind their back. Again, only move it about an inch or so away so that you can quickly catch them if they fall over without scaring them. Knowing you are right behind them gives them the confidence to try a little harder.
If your babies show disinterest and are crying or fussy, you should stop the exercise and try again when they are ready to cooperate. Sometimes this only takes a few minutes before trying again. Try to schedule these exercises a little after they have eaten or rested so they are full and ready to play! Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t happen right away.
Once your babies learn to hold themselves upright and can maneuver their arms and legs around while sitting, it’s just a matter of time before they begin to crawl! If they struggle a bit, there are ways that you can help them along!
Similar to tummy time when they were younger, place your babies on their stomach. Always be sure to lay them on the floor and on a comfortable surface, away from stairs, sharp corners and edges. Make sure that their mouth is not pressed against the floor as this could interfere with breathing. They need to be able to balance and bring their head up and look around. If your child is not doing this, your child is not yet ready for this exercise. Once your babies are able to hold their heads up, place a soft toy or stuffed animal (no sharp or hard toys!) just out of their reach. Try sitting with your legs outstretched close to them so they can use your body as a “counter surface” to give themselves a boost. Make sure to always keep them entertained with silly noises or songs so they don’t lose interest. If your children move and are able to reach the toy, don’t take it away from them. This can cause them to feel disappointed and not want to try again. Let them have their prize and feel the accomplishment. Once they’ve played with it for a minute or two, try again, putting it a little bit further this time.
Once your babies have mastered balancing, try placing them down on the comfortable surface on their hands and knees. Give them a minute or two and if they don’t start trying to move on their own, you can try giving them a little boost from behind, just a little nudge so they don’t fall over. They have been focusing on keeping their balance, they might just need a little reminder that they can move!
Babies love to mimic you, so get down on the floor in front of them and play along! This will encourage them to keep going and before you know it … you’ll have yourself a pro crawler!