When Do Babies Start to Stand?

Mobility Milestones: Standing

Most babies can stand unassisted by their first birthday, but you can expect a lot of pre-standing milestones in the meantime. Some babies can stand supported and gently bounce in place using knee flexion by 6 months old, and develop the ability to pull themselves up using stationary objects like couches and chairs between 6 and 9 months old. Like walking, standing falls on a spectrum of "baby steps," with each one contributing to eventual full mobility.

If your baby doesn't stand without a little help by 12 months, don't make an emergency appointment with your pediatrician. Some babies play it close to the chest (literally) and take a little extra time in the crawling phase, while others transition directly from crawling to cruising or walking.

Standing in Stages

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Every graduation on the mobility spectrum builds off that which came before it, and it all starts with babies stretching themselves out from the fetal position they stayed in while in gestation.

At 3 to 4 months, expect your baby to make the first steps toward crawling by stretching his arms and legs out during tummy time. Tummy time engages the core muscles used for stability during standing, and lays the groundwork for holding his upper body upright.

By 4 to 7 months you can expect your baby to more or less sit up while using her hands for balance. Some babies can roll over at this stage, while others progress to other milestones and roll over when they get around to it.

By 5 to 6 months your baby has built enough leg and core strength to bear weight on his feet when you gently pull him up by his arms. He might also bounce when you do this, showing development in his quadriceps, hamstrings and stabilizer muscles.

Between 6 and 9 months, all that upper-body work starts to pay off for your little "bodybuilder." You'll now see her work toward pulling herself up using a stable object like a couch or chair for support. She might even stand for a few seconds before plopping down on her rear. These little falls won't hurt—between baby fat and a diaper, she has enough padding to cushion the blow—just clear the area where she might fall of toys and other objects.

Be Your Baby's Personal Trainer

You can help move your baby along to the standing milestone by helping him "up the intensity" during day-to-day activities. For example:

  • Put your baby in his crib for some play time at 6 months and he'll naturally learn to use the railings to hold his balance, which leads to supported standing and cruising.
  • Place a toy or two just out of reach just after your baby starts using the couch to stand. She'll focus on the toy and use extra effort to grab it, which helps build stability.
  • Help your baby stand and bounce by holding his hands; the bouncing contributes greatly to leg strength and coordination.
  • Use stairs to help your baby learn how to push herself up. Stairs are right at baby level and just perfect for the push-stand movement.
  • Introduce a push toy after your baby can stand without help. Although you should avoid walkers (per warnings from the American Association of Pediatricians), push toys pose less of safety risk.

When to See a Doctor

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Schedule an appoint with your pediatrician if your baby can't sit up, roll over on his side or crawl by 12 months. Again, there's no need for alarm if he isn't standing; babies develop at different rates and, if he's sitting up, scooting or attempting to crawl by rocking back and forth on his hands and knees, he's on his way there. However, if he still lacks the core strength, gross motor skills and coordination for fundamental mobility, you should get an evaluation.

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