Early Speech Therapy Activities for Babies: How Sitting Up Can Help

Sitting as Speech Therapy Activity

Image source: Infographicsmania.com

For years I worked in a library and every New Year’s, I would see a gaggle of people flocking to the fitness DVDs to get started on their weight loss resolutions. Did you know there are “Candlelight Yoga” and “Sit and Get Fit” DVDs? Sound too good to be true? Well a scientific study was just released that suggests that sitting has more benefits than you might think – for infants anyway, definitely not for us. In fact, infants who sit sooner and sit often may have increased cognitive abilities, which may suggest that their early language development also benefits. So if you can encourage your little one to pull himself up into a sitting position, it may (possibly) reduce the chance that he’ll need speech therapy activities later in life. At the very least, he can get a little extra boost up in life – literally.

The Study

The study was published in Developmental Psychology. It was conducted by researchers from North Dakota State University, Fargo, and Texas A&M. Rebecca J. Woods and Teresa Wilcox conducted three experiments. The first two explored how infants that are 5 1/2 months and 6 1/2 months old are able to differentiate objects. In the third experiment, 5 1/2-month-old infants were fully assisted to sit up, and then given various objects to play with.

The Results

The first two experiments revealed that infants of those ages do not use patterns for the purpose of differentiating objects when left to their own devices. However, when an infant is 6 1/2 months old, he can learn to differentiate objects with patterns when given the opportunity to explore them. The third experiment revealed that the infants who were assisted to sit up and maintain a sitting position were able to differentiate objects.


So what does all that mean and why is object differentiation important? Well, for starters, it speaks to the infants’ abilities to explore and learn from the world around them. When a baby’s sitting is delayed, other areas of development may also be delayed. Think about it: when you do speech therapy activities with your child, you probably use props quite often, as do speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Props help the child learn and grow, and in the case of sensory stimulation, they are particularly important.

The researchers also pointed out that the 6 1/2-month-olds in the study had an advantage over the 5 1/2-month-olds because they were more able to sit unassisted. However, the study suggests that whether an infant sits on his own or whether you support him, sitting and playing lends itself to cognitive development. When an infant sits and doesn’t have to focus on balancing to stay upright, he is able to grasp and manipulate objects. Think of sitting while playing as very, very early speech therapy activities.

Speech Therapy Activities for Sitting

Kids usually start sitting up by about 6 to 8 months. To encourage your little one to sit up, set his favorite toy in front of him, just out of reach. If he needs more encouragement, move the toy back and forth to encourage him to move to get it.

As well, help him sit with full support. Get him into a sitting position and hold him there so that he gets comfortable with it. Try to limit his time in his swing or similar device because the more he moves on his own, the stronger his muscles will become. Remember to put plenty of fun objects on the floor around him for him to explore as he sits.

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