Most babies learn to sit up on their own sometime between age 6 and 8 months. Sitting up requires a lot of upper body strength and coordination. Once your baby’s neck and back muscles are strong enough, sometime around 3-6 months, he will be able to roll over by himself and sit up with some support from mom. Your baby will likely learn to sit up with assistance first and gradually start to do it on his own.
Sitting up with support
Before your baby can sit up he needs to have a strong upper body and good control of his head and neck. When your baby is born his head and neck muscles are weak. He will need your help to support his neck when he is being held. As he gets a little older and starts spending more time on his tummy, his upper body starts getting stronger. He may be able to start sitting up if you prop him in the corner of a couch by the time he is just a few months old, but he will be floppy and may not be able to stay in this position for long before toppling over. Still, sitting up with support is good for him and will help him to learn to use his muscles as well as develop a sense of balance.
Sitting up without support
Once your baby’s muscles are strong and he has had a little practice lifting up his head and chest off the ground, he will be able to start sitting up without support. He may need your help at first to get into a sitting position. When you first place him in a sitting position he may flop over and use his arms for support. He will probably practice sitting in this tripod position for a while before his back muscles get strong enough for him to sit upright without losing his balance. Eventually he will learn how to balance by himself and sit up without support. When he first starts sitting up by himself he may only stay sitting for 20-30 seconds before he flops over, but with practice he will get stronger and be able to sit by himself for longer periods of time. Later, as he gets good at rolling over and scooting around, you will be able to place him on his tummy and he will be able to get into a sitting position all by himself.
Tips for helping your baby learn to sit up
- Place him in the corner of a couch to practice sitting with support. If he has trouble staying balance you can use pillows to help support him. Stay close by so you can make sure he doesn’t topple over.
- Sit on the floor cross-legged with your baby sitting in the middle. Let him prop himself against your tummy as he sits up. This will help him to practice balancing and develop a strong neck and back.
- Use a boppy pillow. Boppy pillows are great for all kinds of developmental activities. You can place the boppy pillow around him as he sits. It will provide extra support and help him to keep his balance while he is learning how to sit.
- Avoid letting your baby spend a lot of time in a swing or car seat. Swings are really great for calming baby, but the more time your baby can spend moving around and developing his muscle strength, the better. Playing on the floor is very important for your baby’s development not only with sitting up but also with other milestones like crawling and walking.
When should I start to worry about my baby not sitting up?
Most babies can sit up independently by the time they are 8 months. At around 6 months, your baby may start sitting in a tripod position, but may not be able to sit upright without flopping over. If your baby is six months and hasn’t started to sit up with support or seems to be floppy, you should bring this up when you see your doctor.