How to Teach Baby to Sit Up

Your Growing Baby: Learning to Sit Up

Your little one’s first year is full of many exciting milestones, including sitting up. As a mom, you don’t want to miss a moment, and you probably even want to help her meet each milestone. You can help teach your little one to sit up, but just remember that babies meet each various milestone at their own pace.

Age Range for Sitting Up

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You won’t find a specific age when babies sit up, because doctors give most milestones a range of a few months. Every baby is different, and some might be quick to sit up while others might take their time. Usually, if a baby is slow in one area, like motor skills, it’s because he's busy working on another area, maybe verbal skills or social skills.

Your little one will probably start sitting up with your help between 4 and 6 months. This might mean you hold him up, sit him in your lap or a Bumbo seat, or prop him up against a Boppy pillow or other pillows.

Between 6 and 9 months, your little one should start to sit on his own. You might start by placing him in a sitting position, and then removing your hands so he can sit by himself. Even once you’re little guy can sit by himself, stay close. Babies lose balance easily as they learn this new skill.

You’ll probably still have to help your little one get into a sitting position for a bit, but he should be able to do it by himself by 12 months.

Encouraging Sitting

Once you notice your baby has good head control and a strong trunk, you can start helping her sit. A good sign to watch for is when she can lift her head and chest off the ground when she’s lying on her tummy, and even prop herself on her elbows.

Start by sitting her up and keeping your hands lower on her trunk. As you feel her become more stable, lower your hands even farther down her trunk. This requires her to use more tummy muscles to keep herself up. You can also prop her against something to encourage her to sit, but don’t rely on this too much. She’ll take the easy way out and just lean against the prop rather than use her muscles.

If you see your little one falling over, don't rush in to pick her up, just ease her fall instead. Allow her to still “fall” onto her back or belly, but gently. This move helps her realize that she should use her hands or stomach muscles to stay balanced when she starts to topple. Place some pillows or soft blankets around her to ease your mind about her falling, if it helps.

Soon your baby will start propping herself on her hands as she sits. This is known as the tripod position. When she's reached this point, dangle her favorite toy in front of her. This encourages her to reach up with at least one of her hands to grab the toy. As she gets even stronger, use a bigger toy or two small ones so she has to use both hands.

Other Milestones

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Your baby is full of new developments at this age. In addition to sitting, he’s probably a little wiggle-worm rolling all over the place. He might put his full weight on his legs when you help him stand, and move objects from hand to hand.

Milestones are more than just motor skills, though. He can now see farther, and tracks moving objects. He probably responds to his name and starts to understand when you tell him “no.” Of course, this doesn’t mean he’ll always obey when he hears that little word. Your little one is probably also babbling more and using more sounds to express both joy and frustration.

You’ll see him exploring more with his hands and, unfortunately, his mouth. He’ll struggle to reach objects that are farther away, and he may be fascinated with looking in the mirror. Take some time and make some different faces at him too, then have fun watching his responses to those faces.

Concerns About Late Bloomers

Even if your little one is on the later end of the age range for sitting up, she’s probably okay, as long as she’s moving forward in her development. If you are concerned, it never hurts to give your pediatrician a call.

Do talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s development if she seems very stiff or has tight muscles, if she seems extremely floppy or if she can’t sit, even with help, by six months.