Learning to Sit
Seeing your baby sit upright on their own is a great milestone to witness. It means they’re building coordination, motor skills and physical strength – but it also means they’re getting more curious!
When your baby starts to sit up on their own, you will find they quickly start looking around for other things to do, and it’s one of the steps leading up to them learning to crawl. It’s an exciting development and there are a few things to look out for so you can ensure you’re supporting them to achieve this.
When will my baby start sitting up on their own?
This can vary quite a bit between babies, but you can generally expect to see your baby attempting to try and sit up on their own anywhere between 4 and 9 months old. That’s quite a big gap in age – and it’s important to know that if your baby starts to sit any time between these stages, it’s perfectly normal – whether earlier at the 4 month mark or later at the 9 month mark.
What’s important when you see your baby starting to attempt to sit on their own is that they have achieved another important milestone, which is being able to support their head and have neck control. This is normally around the 3 month mark.
What are the stages of learning to sit?
As your baby grows stronger and develops their motor skills and muscle coordination, you will start to see them test out what they can do. You’ll probably also notice them start to get frustrated when they can’t do it straight away!
Some of the stages of learning to sit that you will notice your baby doing include:
1. Tummy Time Push Up – Your baby should have a lot of tummy time to help build his or her tummy muscles and develop back and arm strength. As your baby builds their strength, you will notice them using their arms to push their head and torso up off the floor and looking around. This is a good sign that they are building the muscles needed to sit.
2. Propping Up – Your baby might try and prop themselves upright, in a semi-sitting position, against furniture or their toys. You will probably go into their room in the morning and find them leaning against their crib bed. Again, this is a good sign that they’re developing well and becoming more curious about what they can do and their surroundings.
3. Wobbly Sit – Once your baby has started to master the above, you will see them attempting to sit upright on their own – at first they will probably only be able to manage to do this for a couple of seconds before wobbling and laying back down and that’s perfectly normal. They are building their balance skills, which are different to their physical development.
4. Tripod Sit – Before sitting upright completely on their own, most babies will adopt the ‘tripod pose’ – this is where they sit up right mostly, but use their arms out in front of them to hold themselves up. You will probably see your baby do this repeatedly as they continue to build the balance they need, and sit upright on their own for prolonged periods.
Some babies might do all of these stages, some might only do one or two, every baby is different and if you don’t notice these particular stages, that’s natural! What’s important is that you do notice your baby becoming more curious as they grow, and starting to see what they can with their body.
How can I help my baby learn to sit on their own?
The important thing is to let your baby learn and develop at their own natural pace, that they enjoy the experience and learn the new skills on their own. This is important as it aids them in progressing to other development stages naturally. That said there are some great ways to support your baby with each of their development milestones, learning to sit included.
Some exercises and activities you can try with your baby to help them learn to sit include:
1. Plenty of Tummy Time – from around 3 months old you can encourage your baby to start learning more about their mobility and developing strength and movement through plenty of tummy time. When on their tummy, babies will experiment more with their arms and legs and pushing themselves up.
2. Get supportive– one your baby is comfortable holding their head and supporting their neck, then you can try them out in a supportive baby chair that sits them upright. This can get them used to being in an upright position and gives them the chance to practice balancing while being supportive. You could also try sitting them in a corner of a chair or your sofa, again so they get used to being upright, but are also supported as they learn to balance.
3. Make them comfortable– place cushions and pillows around your baby as you see them going through the wobbly stage of trying to sit, this will make sure they are safe and comfortable if they do fall down and encourage them to keep trying.
4. Encourage them – smile and verbally encourage your baby to keep trying. A little bit of encouragement from you can go a long way in supporting them to achieve their developmental milestones.
What should I do if my baby doesn’t start to sit up on their own?
As mentioned above, it’s important to know that not all babies will achieve their developmental milestones at the same time, and in the same way.
The majority of baby’s master sitting upright on their own by the 7-month mark, but if by 9 months your baby isn’t there yet, your doctor will probably not be too concerned. It is worth if by 9-10 months your baby is still not sitting up, or you notice they are having problems mastering balance, the n speak with your doctor or midwife who can reassure you and carry out further tests as needed.
Keeping your baby safe
Once your baby has mastered sitting upright on their own, it’s important to remember to keep them safe as they start exploring what’s around them:
1. Never leave your baby un-attended – this is especially important if you are letting your baby practice sitting up on a chair or sofa. They could easily lose balance and fall, so make sure you are close by and ready to keep them safe if needed.
2. Make the room baby-safe – once they have mastered sitting up your baby will start moving around and looking to see what they can get their hands into! Move any dangerous objects out of arms reach – including electrical equipment like DVD players or games consoles that are often kept low down.
3. In the car – although your baby is strong enough to sit up on their own, they are not ready yet for a forward facing car seat. Make sure you keep them safe while driving with a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years old – but check specific weight and height safety guidelines too.
As with all development milestones, long as your baby is engaged, active and trying out their new modes of movement, they will develop the muscles, strength and coordination to progress through crawling to running – before you even know it!