Home Health & Food Forcing babies into sitting position can cause brain spine injury, paediatricians warn mothers

Forcing babies into sitting position can cause brain spine injury, paediatricians warn mothers

by James Davies


Angela Onwuzoo

Paediatricians have warned mothers against sitting their babies when they are unable to control their head and neck, cautioning that babies that are not mature enough to sit could have spinal cord injury and come down with brain damage when forced to sit.

According to the experts, it is dangerous to sit babies that are just only two months old, noting that their brains are usually not fully developed for such a task.

According to the experts, the best time for babies to sit down is between three to four months when their neck is fully controlled.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an exclusive interview, a Consultant Paediatric Haematologist and Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Prof. Edamisan Temiye said child development is a process that is controlled by the brain.

Prof. Temiye stated that if a baby is unable to control the neck to hold the head straight by three months of age, there is a problem, which he said has to do with the brain.

The paediatrician urged mothers who are forcing their babies to sit at the age of two months to desist from the act, warning that a baby that was born normal could become abnormal from injuries sustained from a fall.

Prof. Temiye explained, “When babies are born, they can’t control their head yet and when you carry them the neck falls back. They start learning how to control the neck around two and half months to three months. Most times, by three months, the head is steady and well-controlled around four months.

“So, it is when the head is well-controlled that a baby can sit. If the head of a baby is not well-controlled and you are forcing the baby to sit, the baby can be injured because the head will be flopping and can cause injuries.

“Again, the muscles there are not strong enough and the brain will not respond to what you are doing. It is dangerous to start sitting a baby at two months.

“So, ideally a baby should start sitting when the head is straight and when the head is fully controlled.

“That is also when the baby should be supported to sit and that is usually around three to four months of age. Between four and five months if the baby is sitting with support, there is no problem.”

According to Temiye, by six months, a baby should be able to sit usually without support; start freeing the hands to start dragging things.

The paediatrician reiterated that the baby must be able to control the neck first before forcing the baby to sit.

“Now, if the baby does not sit straight without support, the baby will not crawl. If a baby at the age of four months cannot control the neck, there is a problem with the baby. By three months, the head should be straight. If by nine months the baby is not crawling, there is a problem.

“The ability to do all these things has to do with the brain. A child’s development is controlled by the brain. If a baby by three months of age is unable to control the neck to hold the head straight, there is a problem.

“It means the brain is not developing as it should. Assault on the brain could cause cerebral palsy. From three months, a baby should start controlling the head.

“So, it is dangerous to sit a baby whose head is not straight. The baby may fall the wrong way and have a muscle injury. If the baby falls back, it can put a strain on the spinal cord and it can cause spinal cord injury.

“The baby can also fall and hit his or her head against anything and damage the brain. And the baby that was born normal becomes abnormal from there,” he said.

He urged parents whose babies have not started crawling at the age of nine months to see a doctor.

Researchers in a 2017 study published in PubMed Central journal titled, ‘Behavioral Flexibility in Learning to Sit’, said learning to sit entails upright balance control.

According to them, sitting is much more than merely maintaining posture.

“Adaptive, functional sitting requires behavioural flexibility. By observing infants’ balance control on a non-horizontal, sloping surface that allowed for continuous and individualised gradations of difficulty, we discovered that infants acquire impressive flexibility—the ability to adapt their posture to novel variations in the support surface—as they learn to sit,” the researchers said.

Also, a Paediatric Physical Therapist, Dr. Rebecca Talmud, who is based in Washington DC, said on an online health platform, Healthline, that when children are placed in a seated position too early or for long periods, it may interfere with their development of skills.

“When your baby is just learning how to sit with support, you may want to sit with them between your legs so you’re supporting them on all sides. You may also use pillows as props, but don’t leave your baby unattended when propped,” she said.

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