When Should Babies Start Sitting Up? We Asked a Pediatrician

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The first year of your baby’s life is filled with exciting milestones, especially when they start to become more mobile.

Sitting up without support, for example, is an important step in child development because it paves the way for other major milestones including starting solids, crawling, standing, and walking, according to Ali Alhassani, MD, pediatrician and the head of clinical at Summer Health. “It also lets the baby be more independent and allows them to explore their environment in new ways.”

While there will be plenty of toppling over during the learning process, it’s all a good sign that the muscles in baby’s trunk are strengthening, and before you know it they’ll be grabbing everything within reach. Keep reading to learn when babies sit up on average, how to help the process, and when is considered “late” or time to chat to your pediatrician.

When Do Babies Sit Up?

Babies normally learn to sit up between 4 to 7 months old, according to Dr. Alhassani. If you place your baby in a seated position, they may try to “tripod,” which is just a fun name for when the infant uses their arm to balance the upper body. This is a good sign that they’re working toward sitting up on their own.

“In order to accomplish the task, the baby’s gross motor skills come into play and they must strengthen their muscles in their neck, shoulders, back, and hips,” he adds. Motor skills like the ability to hold their neck up and maintain balance can be developed through exercises like tummy time.

How Can I Encourage My Baby to Sit Up?

The best practice to improve your baby’s head control (a crucial part of sitting up) is tummy time. So grab a tummy-time mat and let your little one get to work. “When the baby is on their stomach, parents should talk and interact with them to encourage the baby to look around,” Dr. Alhassani says. “This fosters the child’s development by strengthening their neck, shoulders, back, and hips.” To help with balance, Dr. Alhassani recommends parents place their babies in the corners of chairs or couches so they can feel what it is like to sit without having to hold themselves up. “They will be safely supported, but it is important to not leave your child alone while practicing this,” he adds.

My Baby Still Hasn’t Sat Up. When Is Considered “Late”?

Every infant is different and develops on their own timeline. But if your baby isn’t sitting up independently by 9 months old, Dr. Alhassani recommends discussing it with your pediatrician.

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