When do babies sit up?

Wow, look at that! Your baby is growing and making developmental leaps right before your eyes. It can seem like just a minute ago that they were just a helpless little infant and now they’re getting more and more mobile and independent. And, soon enough, your baby will reach the stage when they can sit up on their own. Find out when babies start sitting up first with support and eventually alone and unassisted. Plus, discover how you can help your baby learn to sit up, and what comes next.

When Do Babies Start Sitting Up?

Your baby may be able to sit up with your support when positioned upright sometime between 6 months and 8 months of age. Then, around 8 or 9 months, your baby will likely learn to sit up without any support. Keep in mind that every baby is different and develops at their own pace, so your little one may develop these abilities a little earlier or later than this.

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What Are the Signs Your Baby Is Almost Ready to Sit Up?

When you place your baby in a seated position on the floor, for example, you may see them trying to tripod, which is when they lean forward while extending their arms to balance their upper body. This is one of the first signs that they’ll soon be able to sit up.

While in this tripod position, your baby is working on their balance. Soon they may be able to hold themselves in a sitting posture when you place them upright with support, and eventually all on their own.

Newborn Care: Using Tummy Time to Increase Your Baby's Strength

How Can You Help Your Baby Learn to Sit Up?

For babies to sit up unassisted, they’ll need to develop strength and balance in their trunk, back, head, and neck.

Here are some of the things showing how to help your baby sit up:

  • Once your baby has enough head control, start encouraging them to raise their head and neck off the ground during tummy time by using a rattle or a colorful toy to get his attention. Tummy time is great for strengthening the back and neck muscles, which will be needed for sitting unassisted.

  • If, during tummy time, you start to see that your baby is strong enough to raise their chest, too, you can start to practice sitting up. Hold your baby up in a seated position, support their back with a pillow, or prop them up in a corner of the sofa. This will help them learn to maintain their balance in this new position.

  • Your baby may start to tripod from a seated position, meaning they will lean forward while extending their arms out front to support their upper body. To encourage your baby to tripod, place a bright toy in front of them so they lean forward to get closer to it.

Eventually, your little one will be able to maneuver themselves into a sitting posture without help from you and without the need to tripod. They may place their arms by their sides to support themselves. By about 9 months old, your baby may be able to play for an extended period while sitting upright on the floor. They’ll likely be able to pivot their torso to reach for toys.

In Summary

Daily tummy time with your close supervision helps your baby strengthen their back and neck muscles, strength that’s needed to sit up without support. Encourage them to look up and raise their head, neck, and chest during tummy time sessions by dangling toys or making funny faces and sounds. Eventually, your baby will be able to sit with back support; then they’ll use their hands to balance; and before long, your baby will be able to sit unassisted.

 

Can a 4-Month-Old Baby Sit Up?

A 4-month-old will most likely not be able to sit up. This skill is usually developed later, typically between 6 and 8 months of age when they have the necessary muscle control and strength as well as the ability to maintain their balance.

Should a 6-Month-Old Baby Be Sitting?

A 6-month-old may already be sitting, but for many babies, it can take a little longer. Most babies are able sit up with support by 8 months of age, while sitting up unassisted takes a little longer.

Don’t be disappointed if your baby isn’t able to sit up just yet at 6 months old. Your baby is still very young, and building the necessary strength and coordination takes time.

Since every baby is different and develops at a different pace, your baby may take a little longer to develop the skill of sitting up. Keep practicing daily tummy time and your baby will get there soon enough!

RELATED ARTICLE

Baby Development
When Do Babies Start Crawling?

Do Babies Crawl or Sit Up First?

Your baby will likely learn to sit up before being able to crawl.

The strength and balance needed to sit up with and without support is typically developed between 6 and 8 months of age, whereas the skill to crawl is typically developed between 7 and 10 months of age. Know that some babies skip the crawling stage altogether, finding other ways to get around like slithering along on their tummy or scooting along on their bottom!

Remember that each baby is different, and that your baby may develop certain skills a little sooner or later than what we’ve described here.

Before your baby learns to crawl, you may see the following skills and behavior:

  • Showing improved head control

  • Arching their neck upward to look around during tummy time

  • Grabbing their feet or objects near them while lying on his back

  • Rolling over on their own

  • Leaning over (like a tripod) while sitting

  • Sitting up unassisted—rolling onto their stomach from a seated position and then back again.

All this development mentioned above helps strengthen your baby’s muscles, which will be very important for eventually learning to stand and then take their first steps.

In Summary

Babies typically learn to sit up before they can crawl. The earliest your baby is likely to be able to start sitting up is about 6 months of age. Crawling typically happens between 7 and 10 months of age.

 

Safety Tips to Follow Before Babies Start Sitting Up

Around the time your baby is learning to sit up, it’s a good idea to have already finished or have made good progress on child-proofing your home because being able to sit up is a sure sign that your baby is getting more mobile.

Here are some safety tips that will be of particular importance to you as your baby learns how to sit up:

  • Before your baby can sit up, be sure to lower the mattress of the crib to a level where they can’t fall out by leaning against the side or pulling themselves over the rails.

  • Check the stability of larger pieces of furniture and floor lamps. Furniture like bookcases, drawers, and TV stands should be secured to the wall, as they may become unstable and tip over if your baby pulls herself up to sit or stand while holding onto them. You may need to put certain items away for now, like floor lamps or decorative objects on the floor, if you suspect your baby or toddler could pull them onto himself by accident.

  • Install cabinet and drawer locks on any low cupboards that store unsafe items like breakables, knives, chemicals, cleaning supplies, and medicines. Install locks on any drawers without built-in catches as well, to prevent the entire drawer sliding out onto your baby if they pull on it.

FAQS AT A GLANCE

For babies to start sitting, they need to develop strength and balance. You can help by encouraging them to raise their head and neck during tummy time. Tummy time is great for strengthening the back and neck muscles, which will be needed for sitting unassisted.

The skills babies need to sit up are developed between 6 and 8 months. These skills involve muscle control and strength as well as the ability to maintain their balance. At 3 months old, your baby would not have developed these skills and it may be too soon to sit them up.

A 4-month-old will most likely not be able to sit up. This skill is usually developed later, typically between 6 and 8 months of age. These skills involve muscle control and strength and the ability to maintain their balance.

At the age of 6 months old, babies usually develop the skills needed to sit up. You can begin to help your baby sit up at around this age. You can help by encouraging them to raise their head and neck during tummy time.

The Bottom Line

Sitting up is just one of the many development milestones you’ll see your baby achieve in the first year. Help your baby develop this skill by encouraging plenty of tummy time.

Don’t worry if your baby isn’t sitting up unassisted at 6 months old! The range for this development milestone is between 6 and 8 months of age, and every baby develops at their own pace.

Before you know it, your baby will be able to sit up with support and then a little later sit up unassisted. Then in the blink of an eye they’ll be standing, cruising, walking, and running!

Still, if you feel there may be a delay in this aspect of your little one’s development, speak to your baby’s healthcare provider for expert personalized advice.

  • Book: Caring for your baby and young child, birth to age 5, Seventh Edition Paperback – 2019 by American Academy of Pediatrics (Author)
  • Book: Guide to Your Baby’s First Years, Second Edition Paperback – 2020 by Mayo Clinic, Walter J. Cook, M.D. Kelsey M. Klaas, M.D. (Authors)
  • Cleveland Clinic: Cabinet & Window Locks
  • Healthy Children: Movement: Babies 8 to 12 Months