Monday, August 1, 2016

The Benefits to Your Baby of Playing Whilst Sitting on the Floor - or on the grass outside!

Playing whilst sitting on the floor or the grass ....

By Sue Heron Paediatric Physiotherapist and Head of Training at Tatty Bumpkin Ltd.

Life is busy and the floor may be sometimes full of hazards - but sitting on the floor gives young babies so many possibilities and is a real 'gateway' for their development. 

Is Your Baby Ready to Sit? 

Remember take things slowly and respect nature.. 
Your baby will have a very strong 'inner' drive to move and discover the world around them trust this inner drive and respect that they are unique. 
Try to create opportunities so your baby can experiment at their own pace, in their own way - rather than push them too much. Your baby's ability to sit will be built the skills they have mastered in lying. 
In her blog 'Three Things You Might Not Realize Help Baby Learn to Sit Up' Pediatric Occupational Therapist Rachel Coley suggests some simple floor time activities which will help your baby to develop their: head control, body awareness and balance - all needed for sitting.

Getting from Lying to Sitting by Yourself! 

From about 4 - 6 months babies increasingly like the challenge of sitting, it gives them a new perspective on life! 
However - be careful. Make sure your baby doesn't 'fall in love' with sitting at this stage and do make sure they're ready for a baby seat - again I direct you to Rachel's blog post where her excellent video shows you what 'ready and 'unready' look like.

At this stage your baby still needs plenty of time lying on the floor: wriggling, rolling and playing in side lying. It is through these movements that your baby learns the critical skill of getting into sitting by themselves

Babies usually learn to move from lying to sitting at around 7 months by moving up onto their hands and knees (crawl position) and then lowering themselves into sitting. You may see your baby trying to sit up from a side-lying position - pushing up through one elbow. In fact your baby will not perfect this way of moving to sitting until they are about 10-11 months old. 
As your baby pushes back into sitting from their hands and knees they will perfect a whole range of skills which they will build on in the years to come. To do this controlled sit movement, your baby will need:
  • Good upper body strength - this will be an excellent foundation for writing and self help skills such as dressing
  • Good body or 'trunk' control - good trunk control will help your little one develop a good sitting posture for life
  • Good hip control and mobility - important for good posture and future walking skills 
  • To be able to be able to shift their body sideways (over one knee) - this sideways movement will be refined and 'built on' in crawling and walking 
  • To be able to control their body against gravity as they lower their bottom to the ground
It's interesting that the arm, body and hip movements your baby needs to perfect the transition into sitting are the reverse of those they will need to move from sitting to crawling - hence this moving back into sitting is also a practice for crawling :-). 

Sitting with Room to Wriggle Body, Hips and Feet! 

When your baby first starts to sit they are likely to do so in a 'ring sitting' position i.e. with their legs forming a ring out in front of them. Initially, they will use their hands and arms to prop them selves upright.

Ring sitting is nice and stable, a good start - but it does not allow your baby to move very much. Your baby will be unable to move into crawling or twist and turn their bodies whilst n ring sitting - try it yourself! 

So... your baby needs to discover the many different ways to sit as this will allow them to develop their skills further. 

Crucially your baby will need to learn to sit with their legs NOT in the same position (asymmetrical sitting) bringing one foot in closer to their body - now they can lean forwards and bring their weight over their lower leg to move into the crawl position. 
Baby sitting asymmetrically- with one foot tucked closer to body 
These skills are usually learnt when your baby is NOT absorbed in actually handling their toys but more when they are looking for some to play with! Scatter a few toys around your baby to encourage them, to reach and so experiment with moving their sitting position slightly. 

As your baby sits on the floor - encourage them to turn to either side by gaining their attention. As they turn their head to look at your or a toy this will prompt their body to turn.   Initially your baby will turn just their head and shoulders to either side then, as they gain more control at their body and hips, they will be able to turn their body as well.
With practice and lots of chances to play on the floor, your baby will gain enough control so they can turn their whole body and pelvis over their thigh bone (the femur). This is a crucial developmental milestone which will help your baby to develop the hip control they will need for walking. 

Encourage your baby to turn their body as they sit - by putting a few toys around them
From about 8 months you may notice your baby using a side sitting position - again this is a result of their increasing trunk, pelvic and upper leg control. Most babies don't spend a great time in this position - your baby may largely using this position to move from sitting to crawling or from crawling back down to sitting. Again it encourages your baby to build up control and flexibility in their lower body and hip areas.

Exploring side sitting! 
So - just a few reasons why sitting on a flat, firm, but safe surface is so important for your baby. 

Baby seats maybe useful when you need your baby to be safe for a little while - but 

Playing on the ground or floor will give your baby skills for life!   

Love Tatty Bumpkin 


Lois Bly. 'Motor Skills Acquisition in the First Year' (1994)  
Rona Alexander et al. 'Normal Development of Functional Motor Skills - the First Year of Life. (1990). 

Baby Bumpkin Classes 

Always great fun and plenty of action - mixed with times of calmness. 

Find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Baby Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at 

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