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“Sitting” Is Not A Milestone!! A Pediatric PT’s Expert Opinion

August 27, 2016
Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric Physical Therapist's Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

Sitting is not a milestone? What on earth do you mean, crazy lady?

Are you excited about watching your newborn grow and develop through that first, amazing year? “When will they hit those important milestones of rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking?” you say to your spouse/partner every day. Get your camera ready! But try to “Live in the now!” because those fleeting moments are so priceless! Ooohhh those precious little cheeks and buns!

 Isn’t that all we talk about as new parents? You know what I mean–comparing your first child to your third child, comparing teeth and steps on their first birthdays, or working diligently on that perfect scrapbook baby book (while finishing the other kids’ books from when they were babies. Ha!)  Can I get a raise of hands from the audience?

Don’t you wish you restart that first year over and over again? Maybe not all of you share the same nostalgia about your kids as babies, but the growth I witness in babies from birth to walking is my favorite part of life as a mom and a therapist.

We are going to look at “milestones” a little differently.

But as a pediatric physical therapist, I have a few concerns about the traditional notion of “milestones.” It is so common to get referrals from pediatricians AFTER a baby has fallen behind on their milestones.  The one that troubles me the most is the 11-month-old baby that just sits…and cannot to ANYTHING else. They never rolled, learned to get in and out of sitting, or crawled. Scandalous!!Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric PT on everythingbabies.org

They never learned to how to roll, to belly crawl, to get in and out of sitting, or to crawl on hands and knees?!?  Scandalous!!

While I absolutely love all my babies no matter their age or ability, this scenario is frustrating to me. I’m thinking “Why didn’t this baby get referred to me sooner!?!”  

Now some of you, dear readers, may be thinking “What’s the big deal, EB?”

Thanks for asking! I’ll tell you and I promise it won’t go over your head or under your feet or in one ear and out the other.  I hope that this information might actually make more sense! Read on, friends!

 

Breaking news!! Sitting IS NOT a milestone!

Breaking news!! Sitting IS NOT a milestone! Click To Tweet

Whoa Bessy! Hold your horses!!

But seriously, we humans spend the majority of our lives in the sitting position! “Why the rush?” I say.  I tell this to all my (baby patients’) parents, and this is why:

So many babies these days are unnaturally and prematurely placed in a sitting position looo00ng before they are developmentally ready to sit.

This greatly contributes to poor muscle tone and strength, impaired sensory development, and abnormal spinal/postural alignment. (I will get into the medical science in another post in the near future.)

Bumbo’s, exersaucers, walkers, jumpers, and–oh-no, there’s a new one out there–“the sit-me-up floor seat,” are HORRIBLE for babies that haven’t learned to sit up from the floor on their own (a.k.a from the floor, not “propped” in sitting by well-intended caretakers.)

Yes, I know, your baby hates being on the floor and loves sitting up in their _____! (Insert baby holder here.)   To that I say something sarcastic like, “Toddlers love run into the street, but that doesn’t mean it’s GOOD for them, right?”  I fondly refer to the time babies spend in “containers” (ie car seats) and sitting devices as “zero learning time.” 

Obviously, I’m not talking about high chairs during meal time.  Stick with me here and I think you’ll start to understand what I’m getting at. ♥

 

Babies need to MOVE to LEARN!

 

Babies need to MOVE to LEARN! Click To Tweet

 

 

Sitting is not a motor skill, it’s a static position.

Think about the “skill” you are using to lounge on your comfy sofa during a Netflix binge. Will Netflix marathons become the next Olympic sport? Umm…no…not a chance. Haha!

Often, if babies learn to sit before they learn to get in and out of  sitting, they will have missed out on the strength, rotation and postural preparation needed for more important, functional skills in sitting like reaching for a toy, getting onto hands and knees, transitioning  back onto their bellies to get around on the floor, etc.

Read: “The Importance of Tummy Time”Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric PT's Opinion at everythingbabies.org

Babies cannot “interact with their environment” independently if they can’t move while they’re sitting, and they cannot access toys out of their reach.

They are very limited in the variety of learning opportunities available when they are stuck in one position. 

Have I convinced you yet? It is so much more important that we encourage tummy time and floor mobility (rolling or belly crawling) in the first six months, at least! When a baby is strong enough to push themselves up into sitting, catch themselves with their hands while sitting, and get back down to the floor from sitting…that’s when you can celebrate the “sitting” milestone.  ♥

And take lots of pictures and videos when they do, because they’ll be off and running in no time at all!

Thanks so much for reading! Have I sparked some thoughts or questions on the matter?  Leave a comment and speak your mind (because I can’t read it, ya know!) 😉

Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric PT's Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

everythingbabies.org

Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric Physical Therapist's Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric Physical Therapist’s Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric Physical Therapist's Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

Sitting Is Not A Milestone: A Pediatric Physical Therapist’s Expert Opinion on everythingbabies.org

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2 Comments

  • Reply Jennufer September 27, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Great read! As a pediatric occupational therapist (OT) I couldn’t agree more. Marketers make all the baby containers look so great but they do nothing for development.

    • Reply tallsmartandsassy@gmail.com October 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Jennufer. Wait until you see my (future) post about containers. Ha!

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