Mother and Baby

Fun games to develop your tot’s sitting-up skills

When your baby first smiled, it only took a few days before they were grinning away merrily. And when your tot rolled over, they probably perfected the manoeuvre in just a couple of weeks. So why is it taking months for your little one to learn how to sit up? Well, it’s a darn tricky skill to master!

‘Your baby has a lot of stages to go through before they're ready to sit up,’ says child development expert, Sally Goddard Blythe. They've been busy developing the muscles and skills they need to eventually sit happily by themselves from the moment they were born. And while they might manage being propped up on their bum with plenty of support by around four months, sitting independently is a whole new ball game.

To ace this breakthrough move, they’ll need to develop their sense of coordination and all sorts of other complex skills, as well as grow enough muscle strength and head control, and this does take months!

Here are 8 fun games to help develop your tot's sitting skills...

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1) New sensations

As well as action songs that your tot can join in with, sing rhymes that rely on him experiencing different sensations. They'll start to anticipate those feelings, which will help develop the body awareness necessary to build the skills for sitting up.
For example, lie your baby down on a blanket and say the rhyme I Hear Thunder. During the lines ‘I hear thunder, I hear thunder,’ gently but firmly pat your baby’s body before whispering, ‘Hark don’t you? Hark don’t you?’ When it comes to ‘Pitter patter raindrops, pitter patter raindrops,’ wriggle your fingers along your tot’s body from top to bottom.
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2) Tip the balance

When your tot is sitting in a well-supported position, giving them a toy that encourages them to move their body around a little and will help them develop the skills and muscle strength they needs to balance. A sensory bottle is perfect. Fill an empty plastic bottle with anything colourful which will make a noise when shaken, such as buttons, beads or rice. Or fill a quarter-full with vegetable oil, then add food colouring and top with water, to make a sensory bubble bottle. Secure the lid with strong tape so your little one can’t get at the contents.
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3) Pit stop

Sitting in a ball pit is great for babies who are learning this skill as long as you’re right there with them: all the balls provide all-round support and give them plenty of encouragement to keep their balance and play. Make your own by putting balls in a travel cot or paddling pool.

M&B recommends: Chad Valley Pop Up Ball Pit, £11,
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4) Do the twist

Pop a pillow in a washing basket and clip the toys from your tot's baby gym all around the sides. Sit on the floor yourself with the basket between your legs so it can’t topple over, and pop your baby in a sitting position in it. They’ll be encouraged to twist their body around to reach all of the toys, which is great for their balance and coordination.
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5) Bubble up

With your baby well supported in a sitting position, blow bubbles all around them. It’ll encourage your baby to try and stay in an upright position, and they’ll have to use their core muscles and co-ordination skills to reach out to touch the bubbles without toppling over.
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6) Row, row

Lie your baby on their back and, holding their hands, gently and pull them up to a sitting position while singing a very slow rendition of Row, Row, Row your Boat.
This will help them to develop core muscles and allow them to experience the sensation of sitting up from a lying down position. They’ll need good head control and strength for this, so watch to see that they're able to keep their head in line with their spine – if they starts dropping it back or forwards, then their muscles are tiring and it’s time to stop. Make sure they're led down fully, and then comes back up to a sitting position again, rather than rocking backwards and forwards.
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7) Follow my face

Once your tot is pretty good at sitting up, hold a mirror at their face level and slowly move it from side to side. They’ll be really motivated to keep looking at that gorgeous baby they can see, and move their head and body, which is great practice for their developing sense of balance.

M&B recommends: Fisher-Price Monkey Mirror, £7.50, Boots
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8) Armed and ready

Whenever you lift your baby out of a sitting position, give them a big cuddle and cover them with loads of kisses. Your tot will soon anticipate those extra-lovely snuggles, and start lifting their arms to you when you go to lift them up – and your baby will need to work super-hard on keeping their balance as they do so!

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