When do babies sit up? When baby sits up is different for each baby. Find out how and when baby develops the ability to sit… and what comes next.
Babies are incredibly self-reliant. Yes, they need you for lots of things, but they are also capable of doing many things on their own, like learning to sit up (among other milestones). When your baby sits up depends a lot on your baby and how their motor skills are progressing. Read on for more specific guidelines about when babies sit up… and what comes next!
When Do Babies Sit Up?
As soon as your baby can hold their head up (around 3 to 4 months), it’s safe to sit your baby up with assistance (like in your lap). However, many parents choose to allow their baby to reach that milestone on their own, when they are ready.
As your baby learns to sit up on their own, they’ll likely use the tripod sit (or assisted sitting). The tripod sit is where a baby uses one or both arms to prop themselves up like a tripod. Just as a baby uses their neck muscles to hold their head up when they are a newborn, and their shoulder muscles when pushing up from a tummy position or rolling from front to back, a baby strengthens the next set of muscles—the lower back—with learning to sit. Using an arm to hold themselves up allows them to strengthen these muscles while staying safe.
Each baby is different, but typically babies learn to sit up unassisted between 5 and 7 months, though some babies take as long as 9 months to fully get it. It sometimes seems like your baby will never stop needing an arm to hold themselves up and then all of a sudden they are sitting up perfectly!
During this time, your baby is also learning how to balance—an important skill to develop before learning to walk. Balance isn’t just physical, though, it’s also neuromuscular, meaning your baby needs to be mentally ready to sit up, too.
How Can I Help My Baby Sit Up on Their Own?
You can help baby along in this milestone. Just don’t forget: It’s a good idea to make sure their surrounding space is safe and to also be close by in case they fall.
Sitting requires some already-developed sets of muscles, like neck and shoulder muscles. Mom and dad can help their baby sit by giving them opportunities to exercise those muscles. Though some parents choose to do tummy time before baby can get into that position on their own, many parents choose not to. Instead, they let their baby do tummy time after they can roll into the tummy position on their own. Either way, your baby will strengthen the right muscles with the movements they can do.
2. Place toys just out of reach
You can help your baby develop these muscles by placing toys just out of reach. You can also use a mobile tripod, like this baby gym. When your baby reaches for items on a tripod or baby gym, they are building their abdominal muscles and trunk strength (which are needed for going from assisted to unassisted sitting).
3. Use a baby carrier
Another way that parents can help their baby build those muscles is to wear them in a baby carrier. Babywearing helps baby develop neck and shoulder strength, too.
4. Be patient
Don’t rush the process. Be patient and let your baby go at their own pace. This allows the baby to develop their muscles properly.
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Do I Need a Baby Seat?
A baby seat isn’t necessary. In fact, baby seats, like the Bumbo, force baby into a position he is not ready for, which may interfere with normal muscular-skeletal development. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, physical therapists agree that sitting baby in these kinds of seats forces bad posture since they don’t yet have the strength to sit up properly. Another concern is that babies can fall out of these seats because of their lack of core strength.
In this same article, Mary Weck, the clinical coordinator of Physical Therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, addresses concerns of the Bumbo, noting:
“Studies show tummy time is good at stabilizing the visual field of the environment. Research also shows respirations and reflux are better when the infant is prone rather than upright, as long as the baby is in the proper prone position. One reason the chairs tip over is that babies need to move. This chair holds them from getting the vestibular motion they need to give them control of their eyes and other sensory issues. All the benefits you get from moving are inhibited in a chair.”
What If My Baby Does Not Sit?
At what point should you be worried if your baby isn’t sitting up? If your baby isn’t sitting up by 9 months, mention it to your pediatrician. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong, but it is something to be aware of and watch closely. If your baby has hit other developmental milestones within a normal range, then they are likely to begin sitting soon. If your baby was born prematurely, however, they may need a little extra time. You can discuss with your pediatrician what time frame is normal for your baby.
All babies develop differently…
When we asked the moms on our Facebook page when their babies first sat up, each mom gave different answers, even when they had more than one baby. Here are some of their responses:
- “My first three boys all sat around 6 months, my 4th boy however (was) much more laid back and in no hurry, didn’t sit himself up until 10 months.” – Lindsey C.
- “My little guy was sitting by himself by 4 months. He was born at 41 weeks, weighing in at 8 lbs. and had a lot of strength to begin with. I’m curious to see how it differs from my second little one, due in March!” – Rochelle S.
- “Both of my boys liked to sit and prop themselves up with their arms by about 5 months, and by the end of that month they were each sitting unassisted to hold toys and teethers. I used to put blankets behind them in case they toppled over!” – Nancy W. C.
- “4 1/2 months! He’s been adjusted since 8 hours old, never used a bumbo, walker, exersauser, or anything that restricted his movements. I think all those things combined helped.” – Carole F.
- “5 months unassisted with full control. She was also pulling herself up to stand at this age as well. Actually, standing before sitting.” – Brittany M. R.
- “My oldest baby was 7 months, youngest was 5 months. Every child IS truly different.” – Hannah H.
What Comes After Baby Sits Up?
After your baby reaches the sitting milestone, things move pretty quickly. All-fours crawling is right around the corner! Your baby has strengthened their back and core and has started developing balance. Soon your baby will push forward onto their hands from a sitting position and may begin rocking back and forth before taking off.
Now’s the time to think about baby proofing, which is best done by getting down on all fours and looking at the room from your baby’s perspective.
How About You?
When did your baby sit up? How did the timing affect other developmental milestones?