The National Parenting Center

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Sitting Your Baby Up

Baby’s muscle control improves rapidly in the second to fourth months, moving down from neck and shoulders to include the upper back. If you pull him gently into sitting position, he can support his head and shoulders and the upper part of his spine, the remaining sag is from the waist down.

• By now, he needs to spend a lot of his waking time propped in sitting position, so he can see the world, watch what people are doing, and use his hands to play. Prop him carefully, though, if you wedge him against the cushions on the couch, he’ll soon slip, so that his back is rounded and his head pushed forward. He can’t wriggle back to get comfortable either.

• Comfortable propping needs a firm slope from the base of his spine to the top of his head. If you use an adjustable baby seat, you’ll be able to see how upright your baby wants it. Start with a gentle slope, and when he consistently cranes his head and shoulders forward, notch it up a bit.

• Don’t be tempted to put your baby in his seat on tables and working surfaces to give him a better view of you, as he cranes forward and slumps back, he could work the seat off. Keep it on the floor.

Penelope Leach, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most respected (and best-loved) developmental child psychologists. She is most widely known for her best-selling books on child development and parenting. They include Babyhood, Children First: What Society Must Do — and Is Not Doing — for Our Children Today, the classic Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five (now in a new edition for a new generation), and Your Growing Child: From Babyhood Through Adolescence.


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