Sitting Babies up – Why we shouldn’t rush

As your baby moves out of the newborn stage, it might be tempting to prop up your baby’s seat in the pram, position them upright with cushions on their play mat, or pop them into some kind of seated device. As adults, we assume that they’ll be happier sitting up where they have a better view of you and the world around them. 

However, the argument behind not sitting babies up is that they should do as many things as possible independently and when they’re ready. Sitting up is actually a milestone that your baby will reach without your intervention (as loving and as well-meaning as it is), and here are some reasons why it’s recommended that you give them the opportunity to get there on their own:

They learn to learn

When your baby learns to do something independently, he feels empowered. Sitting up is a learning process, and with persistence and patience, he will experience not only ease of movement, but many cognitive benefits. He learns to overcome difficulties, to experiment, to be interested, and the joy that comes from his achievements. 

Vital developmental sequence

Babies don’t naturally go from lying down to sitting up. There are many steps in between, so when we prop them up, they’re missing opportunities to learn these movements. Rolling, lying on their side, twisting, scooting, pivoting, bottom shuffling…they all seem like awkward movements and your baby may not even do them for very long, but they’re all part of the process.

Sitting a baby up makes them almost immobile from the waist down, and the only way out of the position is to fall (which, as you’d imagine, doesn’t encourage a sense of security or confidence).

Helps with independent play

A baby lying on its back can freely move its limbs, so when they see something out of reach that interests them, they will learn to roll and scoot, and any other movement that will get them to whatever they’re fixated on. A seated baby, on the other hand, must rely on her adult to retrieve a toy that’s rolled away. Read our article here on how you can help your baby to play independently. 

Helps with other milestones

Babies can’t be expected to reach other milestones, such as rolling and crawling, if they’re not offered the opportunity to develop the necessary gross motor skills. They need plenty of time and freedom of movement on the floor away from contraptions like swings, infant seats, car seats, prams, bouncers, highchairs, and so on. 

Promotes self-confidence

Why are we all in a rush to get our babies to sit up? There are no benefits of early sitting, and sooner is not always better. Babies build self-confidence when they’re given the chance to do things on their own, and when they’re given trust, respect, acceptance, and the freedom to accomplish them at their own pace. 

It’s not too late…

When we sit babies up, they will start to expect us to. They like to continue doing what they already know. So, if you’ve been propping your baby up, it’s never too late to stop if you choose to. There will be an adjustment period with possibly some protests from your baby, but gradually and for short periods you can start to put them on their back again. Then, sit back, relax, and enjoy your baby as they master the skills that come naturally to them.