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Is it harmful to try to make an infant stand too soon?
Q: My son is 7 weeks and his daddy already tried to make him sit up, stand, and even walk. I’ve heard that standing too soon on his legs will make them bow or something like that. Is this dangerous for him to do?
Brandi Savannah
A: Brandi, it’s nice that your baby’s daddy enjoys playing with him. Here are some tips about the development of young babies and some good ways to play with your baby at this age.

Experts say that babies’ development proceeds from head to toe. This means that in the first couple months of life, babies’ development focuses mostly around their head; then hand control around 3-4 months; sitting up around 5-6 months; crawling around 7-9 months; then walking around 10-13 months. The key is that you should play with your baby in a way that fits with his age and development. While it’s okay to occasionally try things for the next developmental stage, it doesn’t make sense to try to leap way ahead of your baby’s development.

Your 7-week-old baby will be most interested in looking at, hearing, and touching things. Good ways to play with your baby now are making faces and sounds at him to get him to smile, imitating his facial expressions and sounds, holding him, rocking him, talking and singing to him. In addition to peoples’ faces, your baby might be interested in looking at rattles and mobiles. Soon, he’ll be trying to reach out for things, so you can start playing games like putting a soft baby toy in front of him so he can bat it or grab it with his hand. You can play with him when you’re holding him, when he’s lying on his back, or you can put him on his tummy to see if he’ll try to pick up his head to see you or to see toys.

If your baby’s daddy is trying to make your baby sit up, stand and walk now, it just won’t work because your baby isn’t ready yet—your baby has to develop his eye coordination, neck strength, hand coordination, and body strength first. If he’s holding your baby so he won’t fall and just doing it once in a while, it probably won’t harm your baby or give him bow legs. But that’s not what your baby enjoys at this age. It’s best to encourage your baby’s daddy to play the right way for your baby’s development. When he does, he’ll find that he’s rewarded by huge smiles and gurgling.

You might want to see whether you and your baby’s father can take a parenting course together. These classes give parents lots of information about your baby’s development and the best ways to play with and take care of your baby. Parents also say these classes are a good way to get to know other parents with babies around the same age. You can find out about available parenting classes by calling your local public health department, library, school district, community college, or child care resource and referral agency.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician