As adults, we take the simple act of sitting for granted. But for a baby sitting properly requires a lot of balance and coordination. Much like the butterfly must struggle from the cocoon to strengthen its wings, some struggle is natural. But how much is too much? Answering that question invited a deep dive into two systems with my friend, expert pediatric development specialist Rachelle Lee, OT. Rachelle works at both Johns Hopkins All Children’s and the new Because You Can therapy center. She is a national trainer for Therasuit. The good news here is there are a few simple ways to unlock a struggling baby’s inner genius.
Baby Sitting Properly = Strong Brain & Nerve System
I’ve previously written that infant development experts look at two main neurological systems to determine if a baby is developing on schedule. The first is the vestibular, or “balance,” system. The second is the proprioceptive, or “where are my body parts?” system. Both systems have a lot of overlap in the specialized part of the brain that regulates muscle coordination and balance. Why are these two systems important? Because they are literally the foundation for a healthy body and brain.
Most pediatricians are going to assess if your baby can sit or pull to stand. But specialists notice the little things, like does your baby sit upright or need to prop himself up on his hands? Does he excitedly slap his own legs, or remain still most of the time? Is the amount of leg slapping in that Goldilocks zone of too little, just right, or is it excessive? These all give us clues about whether the brain is sensory seeking or sensory defensive. Rachelle and her son Drew give good examples of all of these in the video.