When your baby is able to sit by themselves and are happily rolling side to side then they are probably ready to learn to sit up. This technique will teach them how to transition in and out of sitting. We start off by practicing the movement with them, this will show them how to shift their weight, what muscles to use and put the steps into sequence. As they get stronger they will need less hands-on and you might only start the movement for them.  It is important that you practice this from each side (side-lying start position) even if your child has a favorite side to roll to. I often recommend to parents whose goal is for their baby’s to be able to sit up and lie down by themselves, to do this after each nappy change.


  1. Encourage baby to roll to their side  e.g. right
  2. Place your right hand under their right shoulder
  3. Place your left hand just above their hip
  4. Gently pull down on their left hip whilst giving support to their trunk with your right hand
  5. Give them time to try and place their right hand on the floor and push up (straighten their arm)

Success- Sitting!



A toddler learning to feed themselves is a messy experience. But how they are sitting can directly affect how easy it is for them to learn to feed themselves rather than spilling it on the table or floor! this can also be applied to other fine motor skills such as learning to write and draw.

For your child to learn to feed themselves they need to coordinate and master a combination of different skills. To feed themselves for example a piece of apple they need to control their eyes to look at it, move their head into position, maintain their sitting balance, coordinate firing of their arm and hand muscles to reach out, open and close their fingers and apply the correct pressure to hold onto it ……. and this is only picking it up.

Now I want you to think of what it feels like sitting on a kitchen stool with your feet dangling and no back support, if you were asked to write in your neatest handwriting would you be able?<

How can a highchair help?

High chair image

The key is having a stable trunk (back and tummy). This provides support to the head and arms to coordinate movement in a smooth and controlled way. A supported head helps us move our eyes with greater ea
se to look in the direction we want and it helps us when we are learning to control our mouth for activities like chewing and swallowing (which is all new for your baby and toddler).  A stable trunk helps us with the fine movement we require in our hands and fingers to manipulate objects such as food and toys.

Trunks stability is influenced by having our back supported, feet flat on a stable base,  knees should be positioned at around 90° degrees. If we can move the height of our tray or choose a table that allows our elbows to rest on i,t this will further help our finger and hand control.   Unfortunately toddlers grow very quickly and if you plan to use the same highchair from when you first plan to introduce solids at 6 months, you will most likely still want to be able to use it when they are  1- 2 years old. Therefore try and choose a highchair that can grow with your child or apply these principles when progressing them on to a table and chair set.

What to features to look for in your highchair ?

  • Adjustable seat height
  • Adjustable foot plate (to help keep the feet flat and knees at 90° degrees)
  • Adjustable table/ tray height- and if it is removable it can be an added bonus if you want to use it at the table for family meal times.
  • Curved tray to wrap around their body and adjustable depth (distance from child’s chest)
  • Harness or safety straps to prevent falls
  • Easy to clean
  • Lip on table to prevent sliding of plates/ pens etc.



You can help your baby develop and grow by the way you swaddle them.

Swaddling a new born is a great way to calm and relax your baby.  Swaddling works by controlling the startle reflex which is when their arms and legs “fly out” when they hear a loud noise or experience a sudden movement. This can often wake a baby and make it harder for them to settle back to sleep. Tight prolonged swaddling with their arms and legs wrapped against their bodies can delay the normal development of bringing their hands to mouth and developing deep hip joints. Properly formed hip joints are important to enable your baby to learn to stand and walk on pain-free joints. I often hear parents say “my baby doesn’t like to be swaddled” this is occasionally the case but most babies do like it. It is normally down to how it is done if the arms are tight down at their sides or their arms are pinned across their chest then you are likely to find they do not like this.  By swaddling them with their hands up by their faces mimics how they have been in utero. We have seen the ultrasound scans with our babies sucking their thumbs, hands against their faces or tucked under their chin. This is why if we restrict their arms away from their face they are often unhappy.  In the first few weeks of life they have so many new experiences that they are learning to adjust to, so let’s try and make it as similar to home (their old familiar place – in utero) as it can be when they are sleeping.

Steps to swaddling

  1. lay wrap with point at one end – like a diamond
  2. fold the top corner down around 1/3 of the wrap
  3. lay baby on the wrap with fold line at the level of their ear lobes
  4. tuck one hand into the “pocket” created from folding down the corner, pull the end across to the opposite side of their body and tuck under
  5. repeat with their other hand as in step 5
  6. fold up the bottom of the wrap

Ensure when wrapping ends across the body that you do not pull it tight around the hips. We want to avoid holding the legs down and together as this prevents them developing strong hip joints. It is also important to wean swaddling when your baby has started to roll, so their hands are free to help them roll back onto their backs. 




Our practice philosophy is to promote strength and development through play and exercise. We provide a holistic and comprehensive approach that is backed by clinical experience. We can create a tailored individual program to be implemented at home, childcare or school to help meet your child and family’s goals.

Copyright by Auckland Childrens Physio 2020. All rights reserved.