Baby milestones: sitting up

Sitting up gives your baby a different view of the world. It’s a crucial stage in the journey to crawling and walking.

When does sitting up happen?

Your baby will be able to sit propped up or supported by cushions from birth. But he has to learn to be able to hold his head up before he can sit up independently.

 

Sitting up could happen anytime between 4-7 months, but it's most likely to happen at around 6 months.

 

How does baby learn to do it?

The whole sitting up process starts with him learning to support his head to strengthen his neck muscles.

 

Next, when lying on his tummy he'll start doing mini-push ups, lifting his upper body up with his arms so he can hold his chest off the ground.

 

He'll then start to roll over, which builds abdominal strength.

 

As his upper body gets stronger, he’ll begin to figure out how to keep his balance, by using one or both arms to support himself in a tripod position.

 

He may also start rocking backwards and forwards when he’s on his hands and knees to push himself into a seated position.

 

When he first starts sitting he'll be unstable, so make sure he’s safe and supervised. At first, getting himself into and out of a sitting position isn't always a smooth process and he may topple over. But he'll learn quickly. With practice, he'll soon be able to sit without mummy’s support.

 

What can you do to help?

Putting your baby on his stomach for some tummy time and encouraging him to look up will help. Some babies don't like being put on their tummy, so start as soon as possible, even if only for a few minutes several times a day. Baby should be awake and you need to be in the room to supervise.

 

Other things you can do include:

  • propping him up safely in the corner of a chair or sofa to get him used to sitting for a short time
  • gently pulling him up into a seated position – maybe singing an appropriate nursery rhyme as you do it

 

Once he’s at the rolling over stage he's ready to begin trying to sit.

 

On the floor, so there’s no danger of falling from height, encourage him to sit for a few seconds when you put him in a sitting position. Try putting him in the tripod position first so his hands can support some of his weight.

 

Holding a favourite toy a few inches above his head when he’s in the crawl position may encourage him to sit up

 

He'll be wobbly to start with and it's likely he'll end up slumping to one side. So make sure he's on a soft surface or propped up by pillows. Or sit on the floor with him between your legs, to cushion any falls. He'll soon start to begin to develop his balance.

 

Babies who are new to sitting may get tired of it quickly and they won’t hold back in letting you know this, so watch for when he's had enough.

 

What's next?

Now he's stronger he'll be grabbing for everything. He’ll be happy to sit and play and pass things from hand to hand. His strength in his lower body will continue to increase, which means that the next stage – crawling – will come soon.

 

See more development milestones in the first year

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