Chloe Isaacs PT, DPT, CIMI-2 | March 19, 2024 | Physical Therapy

Baby Steps to Independent Sitting

Babies reach a point where conquering tummy time isn't enough. Their sights, and tiny, grasping hands, are set on a new horizon: independent sitting! But the journey from rolling champion to sitting superstar requires more than just sheer enthusiasm. As a pediatric physical therapist, I see the excitement and frustration that unfolds on this path. 

This blog post is your personalized blueprint for building a confident, wobbly-free sitter. We'll deconstruct the key building blocks of independent sitting, each brick essential for reaching that coveted upright milestone.

Before being able to sit independently, each child must develop the following:

1. Head and Neck Control

2. Upper body strength

3. Postural Control

4. Trunk Strength

5. Static Balance

6. Dynamic balance

7. Equal weight-bearing through lower extremities

Head and Neck Control:

There are two types of head control:

Vertical head control is the ability to hold your head up against gravity when held in an upright position. Horizontal head control is the ability to lift your head up when in tummy time, gazing horizontally. 

Static supported sitting: 

The child can maintain sitting with the caregiver's hands for support. 

Hands may be placed at chest level during the early stages. As trunk control improves, hands may be positioned at the hips. 

Dynamic supported sitting:

The child can maintain sitting while using a dynamic support surface for support. An example includes a Boppy pillow. 

Independent Prop Sitting (aka Tripod Sitting):

The child can maintain sitting independently using hands for support. 

Independent Static Sitting:

  • The child is now able to sit upright, independently for a few seconds. 

  • The child can maintain balance when turning the head or moving arms. (Continue to provide supervision.)

Independent Dynamic Sitting: 

  • The child is now able to sit independently while maintaining balance while manipulating an object. 

As your little one finally masters independent sitting, take a moment to soak in the pure joy of their accomplishment. It's a testament to all those playful tummy time sessions, wobbly attempts, and giggles of encouragement. But remember, the journey doesn't end there. New adventures await, with crawling, cruising, and eventually walking just around the corner.

If you have any concerns about your baby's progress, seeking guidance from a pediatric physical therapist can provide invaluable support. We want to be there for you and your little one to build skills for life. We're here to celebrate your baby's every milestone and ensure they have the tools and confidence to conquer every new challenge.

Schedule an evaluation today!