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How To Encourage Baby To Sit Up

When should a baby sit up?

Babies reach an important developmental milestone when they can sit up on their own. While most babies learn how to sit up by nine months of age, it is possible to take longer to master the skills. Learn what strategies parents and caregivers can use to teach their baby to sit up. We also discuss the developmental timeline and when it is best to consult a doctor.

How To Encourage Baby To Sit Up

What happens before they sit up

A baby's first milestone is sitting up. The baby must first develop upper body strength and the ability of holding their head up on its own.

These milestones will be reached before a baby can learn to stand up on its own.

  • 2 Months: Babies can look around and hold their head up for a short time.
  • 4 Months: They can keep their heads steady and without any support.
  • 6 Months: They are able to sit up with some assistance.

A baby might be able to sit up by 4-6 month, while at 6 months they may not require any assistance. A baby should be able to sit comfortably by 9 months. Keep in mind that each baby is different. This skill may be developed by some babies earlier than others.


How can I help?

Here are some tips and tricks to encourage your baby to learn how to sit up on their own or with just a little help! 

Encourage tummy time

Tummy time is spent on the baby's belly and supervised playtime. This encourages the baby to lift their head to see around. They also develop neck strength and upper body strength, which are important for sitting without support.

Tummy time can be started in the first weeks of a baby's life and last for just a few minutes each morning. It is possible for a baby to not enjoy it at first. They will eventually have more fun and the play sessions may last longer.

Practice assisted sitting

At around 4 months old, when a baby is able to hold their head straight, caregivers or parents might consider putting the baby on their lap. Holding your baby upright whether they are on your lap or you are holding them will help get their body used to being in an upright position. If they are in your lap gently rock the baby back and forth, encouraging them to align their upper bodies with their lower. You may notice that the baby still has occasional head wobbles. Be sure to hold your baby close so you can provide any support needed.

Sit on the floor with a mat

As they learn to sit up, support them by sitting on the ground with their legs together. This support assists the baby in developing the motor control and coordination necessary to sit straight and remain upright. For support, place pillows around a baby after they are seated. If a baby falls face-first onto a pillow, it is important that you stay close to them. We recommend putting down a safe play mat with soft pillows and blankets around them. Let your baby try and sit up on their own without your guiding or helping them. When using this process always make sure you are supervising your baby to make sure they are practicing sitting up safely. 

Put your hand on their back

If your baby is 7-9 month, you can place them on the ground and hold their back straight while reading to them. This improves their muscle control, coordination, and strength. When practicing this method you don’t want to make it a chore. It will naturally occur over time that your baby will learn to sit up by themselves. It will happen naturally but these tips will help guide your child in the right direction. 

Use a toy

To help encourage your baby to sit up, consider using a toy as an incentive. Place a toy at your child's feet when they are in the tripod pose to get their attention. Once you have their attention bring the toy at eye level. Your baby should attempt to reach for the toy while sitting up. If they can reach for it they may be able to stay sitting up. If your baby isn’t quite ready for that yet just start by placing a toy in front of your child by their feet and have them try and reach it without falling forward.


It takes time to learn how to sit straight up. They will be able to sit with the help of a caregiver or parent and maybe a pillow. As their strength increases, the baby may be able to sit in a triangular position and use one hand to prop himself up. A baby can sit up without assistance if they practice enough.

How To Encourage Baby To Sit Up

How to know if your baby is close to sitting up?

If your baby is close to sitting up, one of the signs is that your baby will become less wobbly when they are attempting to sit up on their own. As they are learning to sit up and get the hang of it they may fall over and sway the first few times. Another sign is neck or head stability. When your baby is able to support their own head when they are being picked up it's a sign your baby is gaining strength. This strength they gain in their neck means they soon may be ready to start the process of sitting up. However, neck strength isn’t the only thing they will need to begin sitting up. Core strength is also important in aiding your baby's ability to sit up. If they are sitting in what some call the tripod position pay attention to how they are leaning. If they aren't leaning forward in this position and keep their back straight they are much closer to sitting up than you think! 

What not to do

When trying to get your baby to sit up one thing you will not want to do is place them in a chair or couch alone. This can cause a huge safety hazard and injure your baby. While we know you may want your child to sit up quickly so you don’t miss any of their milestones you want to make sure it happens naturally. Allow your child to guide you in their process of sitting up. They will show you signs they are gaining strength and can sit up on their own. 


What’s next?

A baby begins to roll around 6 months and may be able to support themselves on their legs when being held. Your baby should be able to stand and hold onto furniture or a handle at 9 months. At this age, they should be able to crawl and lift themselves up on furniture. Babies should begin to take steps at around one year old. They should hold onto furniture or a handle and learn to stand on their own.

Is late development a cause for concern?

Around the end of 5 months your baby should be able to sit up on their own. However, don’t freak out just yet. Every baby develops at a different rate, so the above age is only an estimate. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a baby who cannot sit upright without assistance by six months of age is not necessarily cause for concern. However, it is a good idea and a good idea to speak with a child's healthcare provider.

If the baby becomes stiff or floppy when placed in a sitting position, the AAP recommends that you consult your doctor. To determine if there are any developmental delays, the doctor will perform a physical exam.

How to talk to a doctor

If you are concerned about your baby's development delay, consult a doctor. During routine exams, doctors also evaluate the development of patients. A healthcare provider may recommend occupational therapy or physical therapy to help the baby reach their developmental milestones.


Summary

A baby can start sitting at 4-6 Months, and can continue to sit until 9 months. These are only estimates as every baby is unique. As babies learn to sit straight, caregivers and parents can offer support. Talk to your pediatrician if you are concerned about your baby's development. It is a good idea for parents to inform their doctor if a baby can't sit up straight after 6 months.

 

Sources:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/MotorDelay/Pages/default.aspx#/activity/situp

https://elitebaby.us/collections/toys-1

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/MilestoneMomentsEng508.pdf

https://helpmegrowmn.org/HMG/HelpfulRes/Articles/BabyMilestones/index.html

https://elitebaby.us/blogs/news/how-to-help-baby-crawl

https://elitebaby.us/blogs/news/benefit-of-tummy-time