Is Your Baby Stuck in Sitting?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Baby Stories |

Discovering what is needed for each baby’s development:     

I visited 9-month old Erich and his mother Maryann. My purpose was to introduce any missing elements in his development that would enrich his life and share supportive techniques with Maryann.

She kindly offered a cup of tea while sharing that Erich was fussy because he hadn’t slept well.   She placed him in sitting on the floor.  I noticed that he could not come to sit up on his own.  And, he couldn’t bring himself down from sitting.  He could only play with toys within the area of his straight legs in front of him.  I considered how he might be able to reach further, to possibly get toys rather than having them placed in front of him.   I gently moved one leg back – so he was in side sitting.  When he returned to his regular sitting with the legs long in front, I gently brought the same leg back again until he adopted this way of sitting for himself.

I placed a small rattle on the floor further than he could reach, on the diagonal.  He saw it.  I picked it up, shook it briefly and put it back.  I waited.  He reached for it and while he did I supported the part of the pelvis that was lifting from the floor.  He was able to grab the rattle.  Now he discovered how to move beyond this small area in front of him.  This is one way in which he can reach beyond where he is sitting and play with toys rather than waiting for others to provide fun and stimulation.   He can make things happen!

Maryann brought my tea and joined us on the floor.  She was concerned that he doesn’t enjoy time on his belly.  We brought him down to the floor from side sitting into lying on the floor on his side. I touched him, feeling his posture.  He was primarily rounded in the spine and the ribs – in the same posture of sitting with straight legs and playing with toys down in front of him.  Even in lying on his side he had retained this posture.  (This posture doesn’t need to be corrected.  My thought is that he needs to move and position himself in a variety of ways.  As he reached for the toy that was further away on the diagonal, he turned in his body while arching – more planes and dimensions of movement – promoting balance, locomotion, resilience).

He fussed when he first came to lie on his side.  I touched him.  He felt my receptive touch, feeling his structure.  This proprioceptive touch cultivates body awareness.  It also soothed him.  He began to play with balance as I guided his bent knee to the floor.  I waited.  He rolled onto his back.  He began to fret and his mother reminded me that he is fussy today.  Maryann held him to give him a break.  He is learning so much.  Pacing is essential.  I asked if she would like to sing to him.  She brought him to smiling, singing and playing their face-to-face games and I asked mother to roll him to his side.

Maryann practiced bringing his knee to the floor along his side and keeping it there.  We waited and he rolled onto his front.  I felt his spine, letting him feel the arrangement of his posture while lying on his front.  I tapped him gently as his body softened; his breathing was free and easy.  She voiced her surprise at seeing him enjoy being on his tummy.  I shared with Maryann how to tap, soothing him and helping him to enjoy being on his front.  He began to sleep while lying on his front.

Babies use rolling to come to sit.  Rolling also serves as the connection or transition between primary developmental movements. Without knowing it, parents will often place their children in sitting before they’ve absorbed the movement repertoire to come to sit on their own.  Or, babies can get stuck, not able to move out of sitting.

I asked Maryann to sit with her legs open, creating a safe environment for him to sit and lean on her legs as he explores.  I placed the rattle on the other side of her leg.  Spontaneously, he moved the back leg behind as in side sitting reached over his mother’s leg and to grab the rattle.  This was the first movement I introduced and he discovered how to use it.  That’s developmental learning!  It’s his now.

Playing and Exploring While on his Tummy

The next session, the following week: He now spends more time rolling and lying on the floor.  Maryann reports that he prefers being on his side and his back.  She would like him to enjoy more time on his tummy.

We played with rolling from belly to back and back to belly.  When he was on his front,

I emptied the bucket with the blocks landing on the floor near him.  He began to play.  We took turns dropping the blocks, on at a time, into the bucket.  They made a loud sound.  He played on his own with the blocks.  I tapped his back, helping him to feel the floor.  I varied the games periodically, to peak his interest.  After a half an hour or so Maryann and I noted that he had spent most of the time playing on his belly.  She was happy and surprised.  He needed more stimulation with toys and games and enjoyed playing with them on his front.

There’s No Stopping Him Now…

Third session:  3 weeks later.  He is crawling, easily transitioning from lying to sitting to crawling on his belly, to crawling on his knees.  He moves in all directions and is very engaged in his world.  His movement is a true joy to behold – the beauty of the nature’s developmental design in action.  He’s a very active, lively baby.  All these movements of playing on the floor: rolling, crawling on his belly, on his hands and knees, rolling to sit, resting in varying positions, etc. prepare his balance for healthy walking.


In the midst of our busy lives as parents, seize the movements for floor time with your baby.   Notice their timing and pace.  Support them in a variety of ways: lying on their side, back and front.  Wait to see what they do in each position and situation.

~ The following techniques help your baby to maps their movement and structure.  This map will determine their movement throughout their life.  As they feel themselves and the floor, they will rest and play in positions and movements that had previously been difficult.


The technique of rhythmically tapping your baby, allows them to feel themselves and their body parts more clearly.  Also, stiffening will release and the area you tap will become ready to move.  Often, babies experience the tapping as soothing.


As you hold you baby’s lower or upper leg or arm: use your whole hand and squeeze firmly for the count of 3.  Slowly release.  Try this on yourself by squeezing one arm with the other hand.  Feel the effect after the release.  Do you have more awareness of this area?  In this way, the baby maps their movement and structure.  This map will determine their movement throughout their life.

Count baby’s fingers and toes

Let your baby see their toes and fingers as you count each one.  Sing: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!  Your baby will enjoy it.

Receptive touch

When you touch your baby with receptive touch, sensing their structure, they feel it, too.  This cultivates self-awareness.