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Some babies can stand at four months old

But, how?

Snorri Magnússon runs baby swimming courses in Iceland. Here is four-month-old Eva standing on his hand.
Snorri Magnússon runs baby swimming courses in Iceland. Here is four-month-old Eva standing on his hand.
Image: Ungbarnasund Snorra

THE LONG-HELD wisdom has been that babies can start standing without support at around 10 months old, but a swimming class in Iceland reckons babies can start much sooner.

Professor Hermundur Sigmundsson at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Psychology has this week published article in Frontiers of Psychology on the work carried out in Iceland by Snorri Magnússon.

Magnússon teaches a baby swimming course in Iceland. Babies in the programme do various exercises, including standing in-hand and on a corkboard.

The babies are given the opportunity to stand as part of a 12-week baby swimming course, with twice weekly one hour sessions.

“The results are sensational compared to what we normally expect of children at this age,” says Sigmundsson.

Of the 12 children who participated in the course that the researchers studied, 11 managed to stand on their own for more than 15 seconds by the end of the sessions. The 12th baby also managed to stand for a good 8 seconds. Instructor Magnússon says this is a common experience.

“On average, the children were 4.3 months old when they learned to stand without support. The youngest was only 3.6 months old,” says Sigmundsson. He points out that once the babies learn to stand, they don’t forget how.

But, how?

The study suggests that practice seems to work for even the youngest among us. These children are practicing how to stand, so they get good at it – very fast and very young.

“Children can do more than we think,” says Sigmundsson.

This corresponds to other studies Sigmundsson has conducted on mathematical skills. You get good at exactly what you practice, like algebra or equations, not mathematics in general.

However, the study’s authors warn, it has some limitations. Because of the small sample size the correlations “should be interpreted cautiously”.

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