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When your baby is sitting down it can give both of you a much-deserved break. Maybe you can have some lunch, a cup of tea or just 15 minutes watching your favourite program. Your baby could also have a minute themselves and have a snack, a snooze or maybe watch their favourite programme.
Babies being able to sit up for the first time is an often celebrated milestone, they can typically do this from 2 months with help and can sit unaided from around 6 months. Sitting down is often a precursor to other milestones such as crawling and even walking therefore it is encouraged.
A popular product for parents to help their children sit are baby floor seats for the home – once they can support their own necks they are able to sit in comfort in one of these. This can help tremendously with enabling a parent to finally have both hands free but they do not work their muscles as they offer too much support.
If your child was fine to sit down all day would you let them? Would you want to let them?
Does your child see you sitting down all day and is it a behaviour you want them to mimic?
The question we are looking at in this article is whether not or not is it healthy to let babies sit for long periods every day. For parents who have a child who seems to enjoy sitting down on the floor or in a floor seat it can be tempting to just let them be so you can have some time to relax and recover – but can this be exploited detrimentally? The NHS are telling us adults to sit less so surely the advice also goes for babies?
First, let’s take a look at how important learning to sit is and the benefits of trying to achieve this milestone
Is sitting an important milestone for babies?
Hitting milestones is a controversial subject as babies are known to reach them at different ages despite studies suggesting they hold some foresight into their future abilities. However, every parent should want and expect their babies to sit at some point because being able to sit means that their muscles are developing and their musculoskeletal system is developing normally.
Babies who struggle to sit by the age of 9 months may have motor delays, underdeveloped muscles or a lack of coordination and a visit to a doctor or paediatrician is recommended. Therefore, sitting is an important milestone to reassure parents that they are developing normally and should be encouraged and not ignored.
Benefits of sitting for babies
As babies develop and work towards the sitting milestone they engage all of their core muscles to get there and one of the best exercises they can do. Babies should be encouraged to learn to sit with activities such as tummy time and rolling. Perhaps most importantly, learning how to sit strengthens and works the neck and trunk muscles which are instrumental in their development and a huge benefit.
Once they are sitting the benefits are numerous. First of all is the benefit of working more on the neck and core muscles which leads to them being able to support their heads. Secondly, sitting helps with their balance which can help them with walking later on and lastly sitting frees up the babies arms which helps them to learn to reach and grab.
Sitting down on the floor uses all of the baby’s muscles to keep them from falling over which is a total body workout every time.
Considering all of these benefits, surely sitting down for long periods is a healthy thing for babies to do? The answer might surprise you.
Is it healthy for babies to be sitting for long periods of time?
Sitting is a healthy activity for a baby provided they are being engaged and encouraged to move and interact whilst they’re sitting. Sitting down and playing with good toys can be a really beneficial pastime. Practicing how to sit completely upright is yet another total body workout and the precursor of eventually standing up and then of course, walking.
But, leaving a baby to sit down stationary on the floor or worse yet, in a seat or bouncer, for long periods with nothing to do isn’t great as none of their muscles are working and they’re brains aren’t being engaged. There are so many better things they could be doing.
Leaving a child to sit in front of a TV or just eating can be a really unhealthy thing to do for long periods and can really hold them back from their natural development. Babies are designed to be full of beans, being curious and to explore so sitting down too often just isn’t great for them.
But, as parents, we completely understand that sometimes you just need a break and getting them to sit in a sea can give you that. What we would recommend is making sitting down a workout for either their bodies or their brains and for parents to get involved while they’re doing it. Also, try to avoid over using baby seats as they offer too much support so your baby doesn’t need to engage their muscles to keep them balanced.