How Independent Sitting Happens

True self-discovered, un-propped, independent sitting comes later than many people think–later than common recommendations based on Baby being propped. Here’s how it can happen in a typical progression. Time spent in each element can vary greatly.

PART 1 (Hey, we gotta get to know gravity first . . . stay with me!)


Rest into Loved-One’s arms, into gravity, bonding with my support, loved.



Turn my head. Fall into gravity. Roll roll roll rollllllll….

On tummy: push happens.
HlogPushUppers 2mo CROP SMPush?
Hey! Push! pushing into the earth, lifting head, supporting on forearms

Pushing up up up!
Kicking feet

Push push push slide.
Slide in a circle, wheee!, pivot on belly
Hlat pivot1

Pushing up up UP! Up high on handsHlog uppers high

Push push push sliiiide. Slide—Hlog uppers toy

Push. Slide BACKWARDS. Darn it! I want that!
Backwards backwards

Hlat toe5 CROP LTN

Toes chit-chat with the floor. BIG TOE plays with the floor, has conversations.

My weight shifts over to one side, frees one of my arms to play.
Yeah! Hangin’ out with one knee bent out to the side. Playing. Curious.


Hlat uppers


Backwards, still.

Push backwards + one knee pops out to the side + big toe chit-chats with the floor + I want that toy = forward.
FORWARD! Got it!

Toy (or Mama, or Mama’s lunch) and one arm free with a toe-push forward, coordinating hand with eye.Hlat fwd2 CROP

PART 2 (We’re getting there…)

Pushing pushing, all around, in circles, backward, forward.
Body weight shifts onto one side, then the other.
Slip ‘n Slide!

Pushing, squishing into myself and unfolding out.
Push, weight-shift, on my side-ish, twist, and upward.

Twist twd sit

elbow-hip twd sit

! Push and upward on my side!
On my side, on my side…
Again. Tummy, then side, then up on elbow and hip.

Again. Tummy, then side, then up on hands and hip.
Look how high I am!

Coming to sit 10mo CR SM

Measuring, sensing, reading my distance from the floor. Back and forth. I know where I am. And how I got here.

Sidesit one hand

Down. Up. Down. Up. Down into the floor. Up out of the floor. Balancing, playing, whoops!—down.

Push. On side, up on hand, on hip, hands free.
Hands free! Hahahaaa!!! I’m all the way up here with both hands free!

full sit

Oh, everyone says I’m “sitting.”

PART 3 So many options! From sitting, Baby can go down to his tummy or reach onto his hands and knees.HlogReachUppers2 CROP SM

Some babies play in a “weeble” motion.

Down the way I came. Up the way I came. Down again. Or, up one side and down the other. Down one side and up the other.

Weeble 9mo CR

Sit, whee go off to the side, put weight on both hands, sit on the other side, whee, spinning in a weeble circle!

And that, my friends, is the dance of independent sitting. The typical expectation is to prop-sit babies; but I support you in not propping Baby in sitting, but rather witnessing with joy as she discovers it on her own!

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Aware Parenting Instructor, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, and Feldenkrais® Practitioner.

© Eliza Parker 2012, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)


18 responses to “How Independent Sitting Happens

  1. I don’t know which aspect of this post I like the most….the playful way you described the experience of exploring up to sit OR the wonderful photos that demonstrate the action. Definitely sharing!

  2. Ashley Newton

    I like this one, Eliza! Such great pictures 🙂 So many children are propped in sitting so early! This supports me in remembering how every developmental pattern supports the next one in emerging fully. This post makes it clear how dynamic the process of coming into sitting can be.Thanks for writing!

    • Thanks; you’re welcome! Propping in sitting has become such a “norm” that some people lovingly don’t realize babies will actually do it on their own, unassisted. I want to bring awareness to this.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this. No technical jargon, just fun language, easy to relate to. Babies are really prewired to develop at their own rate. LOVE IT. Coral

    • Thanks! oooh and thanks for the clue about technical jargon vs fun language, I’ll keep that in mind more often!
      They are indeed; it’s such a joy to watch them develop in this way.

  4. Eliza, you are a wordsmith for baby explorations and have such a patient eye with a camera. Thank you for posting this!

  5. my favouite bit: the toe having a conversation with the floor! i LOVE that, it fills me with such lovely thoughts and ideas – thank you

  6. Hi Eliza – am I able to share this with our team of infant teachers? I would like to give them a hard copy……please let me know if that’s okay. Tessa

  7. Just when I was about to ask, when is my baby going to learn to sit up on her own, here it is! Thanks – as always!!

  8. I love this post. I wrote one very similar a couple months ago. But I love the format and point of view of this one. And the message right on!
    Here’s my post:
    Thank you

  9. Eliza, great stuff, I love it! I am presenting at the PAMA-MTNA joint session in Chicago this coming Saturday and would like to ask permission to use some photos in my powerpoint presentation comparing movement development in babies to the hand’s acquiring movement habits at the keyboard. Would it be OK to use these great pics? Alan Fraser,

  10. Thank you – I so needed to read this as everyone is asking “does she sit up yet.” About my almost 7month old. She is actually at the belly circling stage but no one seems to know about this transitional movement. It’s so hard to explain that I’m not sitting her up as everyone automatically does it!

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