Developing Motor Skills
Q: At what age do children develop the skill of sitting cross-legged?
A: The motor skills of young children differ very much according to genetic inheritance patterns and also according to the cultural patterns of the household. Parents need to know, for example, that walking has a "wide window" in terms of age at which this motor skill can appear. Some infants start to walk even as early as 6 or 7 months. Others begin to walk at 16 or 17 months. Both are within normal range of development for walking.
The onset of many gross motor skills depends on genetics. However, cultural practices can and do influence early child development of some motor skills. In some cultures, tiny children learn to squat very early. They develop strong thigh muscles so that they are not sitting directly on a cold or dirty surface. Sitting cross-legged is also a gross motor skill that is facilitated in many cultures. A child growing up in a family will model the behavior of adults who sit the same way.
This skill is something each child may be more or less motivated to try, depending on how much the family takes pleasure in gymnastics and how ready a little one is in terms of body coordination skills. When a child learns to sit cross -legged will depend on how strong her muscles are, and on whether he is slim enough or still full of roly-poly baby-fat and finds this position too difficult.
Enjoy the skills your little one has or tries. Some will be able to turn cartwheels early, while others will be clumsy, running and falling during the first years of life. Each child has his own motor development timetable.
Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., is a professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University. She is the author of Secure Relationships: Nurturing Infant-Toddler Attachments in Early Care Settings.