As your baby progresses through his first year, he will reach one milestone after another. In the beginning, he starts out by lying on his tummy on a soft blanket on the floor. As his neck and shoulder muscles strengthen, he will lift his head and look around. Soon, he will begin to turn from his stomach onto his back.
Around the sixth or seventh month, he will be ready to attempt sitting up. He will accomplish this in due time through his own efforts, but parents can help him reach this milestone by adding a few activities to his daily routine.
In order to sit comfortably and balance himself, the muscles in baby's back, stomach, sides and thighs need to be strengthened. Here are a few simple activities parents can practice with the baby to achieve that result.
(a) When you hold him on your lap, let him sit up using your body as a backrest.
(b) Sit him up in a corner, surrounded by pillows, so if he falls sideways, he won't be hurt. As he topples over, don't rush to straighten him up immediately. Let him attempt to sit up by himself. This strengthens his side muscles. After half a minute, help him up. It is counterproductive to allow him to get frustrated and cry.
(c) There are devices called Boppy Pillows available in the baby's and children's sections of most department stores. These are firm cushions shaped like crescent moons. If you purchase one, place it on the floor, and place the baby inside the curve of the pillow. It will support his lower back and help him stay upright.
(d) If you position a favorite toy in front of the baby when he is sitting with support, he will be encouraged to lift his arms, pick it up and play with it. As he does this, he is learning to balance himself.
(e) After he is comfortable reaching for the toy and using both hands to play with it, place the toy within reach, but further to the right or left of the baby. He will soon learn to swivel in a sitting position and maintain his balance.
(f) Try to give the baby ten to fifteen minutes of tummy time and supported-sitting time each day. Always stay nearby and try to make it a fun time for both of you. Be sure the baby is on a flat surface and in a spot where he can't fall if he moves unexpectedly.
(g) Next, you will want him to learn to sit up by himself. From his tummy position, lift him up so he's on his hands and knees. Walk his hands backward toward his body until he tumbles back onto his bottom. One leg will collapse into a sitting position, then the other. Help him get the legs adjusted comfortably. You will have to repeat this process five or six times twice a day until he learns how to do it himself.
Don't worry if you miss a few sessions, or if your baby doesn't want to cooperate with some of the methods outlined above. Every baby is different and each one will follow his own unique routine.
With or without a parent's tutoring, 90% of all babies will sit well without support for several minutes by the time they are eight months old.
Enjoy this time of relative tranquility while you can. Once your little one starts moving around, you'll wish he would sit down and stay in one place for five minutes, so you could sit down too.
The playpens that our mothers and grandmothers used to gain a little free time have a lot to recommend them.