This blog idea came from a bedtime visit of baby whispering to 8 month Tilly who had got stuck in sitting in her cot.
A breech baby born by caesarean, Tilly had progressed along beautifully and was now pulling to stand. Tilly has a strong personality and is not a baby who likes being shown what to do! Just like many of the babies I see for help with sleep.
Sleep training and stuck in sitting
The sleep training was progressing very well … until the final bit. Sitting down in the cot from standing, she tried … and tried … and tried to get herself comfy and move onto her front. But she couldn’t. She was stuck in sitting and couldn’t get to sleep. She repeatedly woke herself up and was getting very cross. I suggested to her mum to gently move her legs out from under her. Tilly was not very impressed with our attempts to help her. No, she wanted to do it all by herself! Does this sound familiar? It was becoming very apparent that Tilly hadn’t had much floor time on her front at all. Because she’d been a breech baby she preferred to sit. So that’s what her parents did. And she sat and sat and was sitting all day long. Except for being in the sling for her day naps but again she was sitting. And when she wasn’t sitting or in the sling she was in bed co-sleeping with her mama. So her parents had no idea about this developmental problem that Tilly had developed.
Avoid putting baby into sitting in floor play
Once you put a baby into sitting position on the floor they just don’t want to do tummy time. So what you need to do is avoid putting them into sitting when you do floor time. Always put your baby into laying down either on their back or their tummy, just NOT SITTING. They may whinge and whine and moan but you don’t give in. You are doing them a big favour, they just don’t realise it. Remember that not everything we like is good for us.
Researching the problem
When I came home from my visit I started researching this developmental problem and it was HUGE. So many babies are getting stuck in a sitting position in the middle of the night. It is a very normal developmental issue and will go away by itself. The danger is when you intervene and start trying to manage it you will cause a new sleep association. And that’s when trouble starts.
There is a very well known sleep book written by ‘her who shall remain nameless’, initials TH. Recommending laying them down in the cot 40 times if you need to. Now the problem with that is, it ends up in a situation like the Jack in the box and by the 40th occasion you’ve got a very angry child! So I say DON’T LAY THEM BACK DOWN AGAIN EVER.
What should you do instead
In the short term practice Parental Magic Presence™ and allow the baby to come down themselves. The issue is if we always correct them ourselves by laying them down no 1 we have a very angry baby by the 40th occasion of laying down and no 2 we are creating learned helplessness so our baby never learns to do it themselves.
How to help the baby stuck in sitting
And during the day what needs to happen is a lot more tummy time and floor time during the day rather than sitting. Most of these babies do not have great core muscles so they sit to reach objects and end up bottom shuffling.
Baby needs to spend a week practicing this skill prior to learning how to get himself off to sleep in the prone position without help. The mother needs to do it repeatedly during playtime when the baby is happy and as a distraction, she needs to use enticing toys or things he’s not usually allowed to play with like the TV remote control or a box of tissues for example. The baby will hate it at first because the unstable feeling may frighten him but the toy will hopefully distract him like a kitten! The mother in this YouTube video does it extremely well and it’s obvious her baby is well practised.
Have a look at this YouTube video this has some great exercises on how to teach baby to navigate moving from sitting to prone and avoid getting stuck. YAY!