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December 05, 2022

Natural Gross Motor Development - Independent Sitting

Nerdy gross motor development post ahead! Natural gross motor development has been such a game changer in my parenting that I can just go on and on about how much I enjoy watching babies learn to move. All babies whether you follow natural gross motor development or not are amazing at learning to move and fascinating to watch, but I find it particularly incredible when babies do it on their own. 

Penelope has moved through so many incredible stages in the last couple of months in her movement journey. In my last update, she was just starting to propel herself forward by creeping on her belly and climbing over small obstacles. Now, the last month has been an explosion of sitting. 

In traditional parenting and gross motor development circles, babies are often propped up to sit and therefore sit before crawling. However, without sitting them up, it's often the opposite - crawling first, then sitting. First they figure out how to get the thing they want - crawl to it - then they figure out how to free their hands for exploration - sitting. 

Natural Gross Motor Development - Stages of Sitting 

And, the thing is there are so many beautiful transitional positions that happen along the way. Sometimes we can see these positions and feel like we need to rush into help because they look a little awkward. But, every step helps a baby to develop the coordination, vestibular awareness, and control that they need to really have mastery over their body. 

Here are some of the sitting phases I noticed in Penelope over the last couple of months: 

  1. Classic Side Laying - on elbow, one hand free 
  2. Half way sit with wide leg base - still supporting on one elbow
  3. Tripod Sitting with both hands supporting
  4. Plop to butt, hold on to something - using shelf or wall to hold herself up
  5. Sitting on knees - usually by pulling up to knees and sitting back, but also pushing off the floor 
  6. Unsupported, holding on to something - sitting doesn't have to be the work anymore, but she can hold onto and play with other things
These are not an exclusive look at every single step that Penelope went to in order to start sitting on her own. But it's just so amazing to me that she has figured out in her own way, in her own time. But also, that it is so similar to many of the other babies that get to follow their own lead in learning to move!

Have you seen any of these stages in your baby? What's your favorite? 

This post is week 40 of my Montessori baby series featuring Penelope! 


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Anonymous said…
We’re getting a lot of knee sitting right now! And a bit of plopping down from standing but she doesn’t like that one 😅
Giusi said…
So is it okay if my 7 month old girl can't sit up by herself as her cousin did last year at the same age? She's working on creeping onward, and I dont feel like sitting her up, so will she learn sitting later?
Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report
Every baby will learn every skill at their own pace, try not to compare. Comparison really is the thief of joy. You could do everything the EXACT same as the cousin and they would still do things at different times.
Unknown said…
My youngest is 3, so well past these stages, but I was lucky to learn about natural gross motor development before having children, so have been amazed at each of their journeys, including a child who "jumped" on his back because he was so eager to move but not yet ready roll over (he didn't until he was 7mo), and another child who could crawl at full speed from 7mo but didn't sit until almost 11mo.

If I remember well, Moshe Feldenkrais, another Hungarian doctor from the time of Emmi Pikler, said children don't go on to the next gross motor development stage until they feel the need for it, so if crawling takes them as far they want to, why walk yet!

One thing I've noticed is that my children have never had serious accidents under my care, but they have had worse falls when under the care of people who don't think children are really capable and so don't trust their judgement.
John said…
Wow, it sounds like Penelope has made some amazing progress in her gross motor development! It's amazing to see how babies figure out movement on their own and how they can go through the stages in their own time. It's fascinating to see the different steps they take and how they adapt to their environment.

Pikler and RIE philosophies both emphasizes the importance of allowing infants to develop at their own pace and without interference from adults. This means giving babies the opportunity to learn how to sit up on their own, without constantly being propped up or held by their parents. Ultimately, the key to supporting a baby's development in this way is to be patient and to let them take the lead. Babies will learn how to sit up on their own when they are ready, and by giving them the time and space to do so, parents can help them reach this milestone in a way that is respectful and nurturing.

It's so wonderful that you've been able to document the different stages Penelope has taken in sitting up. Watching my children at this age I remember how rewarding it was as a parent to watch their journey and support them along the way. Thank you for sharing with us your experience!