Following the baby’s development is something magical: every time he learns a new movement, a new gesture, which may seem very simple, the parents’ excitement is indescribable. This whole process has a name: milestones, so-called by specialists to refer to the decisive phases of motor development for each age group.

However, parents need to know that although there is an appropriate age for the performance of each activity, each baby is unique and has its own rhythm, which explains why some may take more or less time to sit, crawl, stand up or even skip some stages. Therefore, it is fundamental that your child has constant paediatric monitoring to identify possible motor problems.

As your baby grows, he or she becomes more awake to the world and attentive to external stimuli. Alongside the innate desire to explore, motor development creates the necessary conditions for a baby to start moving independently: the back and neck muscles become stronger and stronger and can support the weight of the head and balance the trunk.

At the same time, the baby gains control over the movement of his arms and legs, which also gives him more motor balance and control over his body movements. Soon your baby begins to sit up, then crawl, then stand up, and finally take his first steps.

When will the baby sit up?

Most children start to roll their bodies from side to side at around 4 months. Before this, at around 3 months, he can lift his head and shoulders by leaning on his forearms. Gradually, if you lay him on his tummy, he starts to rise with the support of his hands and arms and turns his head to roll over and back to the starting position. Several skills/stimuli contribute to such a rapid evolution of the baby in the first year of life:

The gradual control of the head, the attempt to grasp the feet to sit up, the willingness to pick up toys, the ability to grasp and transfer objects from one hand to the other, to keep the trunk straight and turn around, the development of social skills, all come together so that the baby can sit up, with support, at around 6 months of age. The progressive motor development, greatly enhanced by play and the desire to reach for objects means that most babies can sit up unaided and without support and remain balanced at around 8 months of age.

The progressive motor development, greatly enhanced by play and the desire to reach for objects means that most babies can sit up unaided and without the support and remain balanced at around 8 months of age.
CREDIT: YURI SHIROTA / UNSPLASH

When do babies sit up?

Sitting up with support: By the time your baby is 4 to 5 months old, they’ll probably be able to hold their head steady and sit up with support. To help your baby learn to sit, put them in your lap and let them lean back on you (or support them with your hands) when you’re sitting together on the floor. Or, you can prop your baby up with pillows. (Some C-shaped breastfeeding pillows work well for this purpose.)

The slightest movement could make your baby topple over, so keep close to your little one when they’re sitting propped up. Once they’re sitting supported, babies soon learn to “tripod,” which means leaning forward on their hands to balance.

Sitting up on their own: By 6 to 8 months old, most babies can sit up without support or help from you, and without leaning on their hands for balance. They may wobble a bit, but they will have learned how to sit independently.

They may not be able to get smoothly from lying down to sitting up (and vice-versa) just yet. Even babies who’ve mastered sitting will topple over eventually, often because they lose interest in being upright and don’t know how to change positions.

How to stimulate your baby to sit up?

A good way of stimulating your baby to sit upright is to hold him by the arms and pull him forwards, without too much force. Place baby on a flat, soft, and firm surface so that he is more secure when playing sitting up. Cushions are welcome at first but should gradually be put aside. Arrange the toys in front of him and increase the distance regularly so that he projects his trunk back and forth, thus exercising balance. Playing and spending time with your baby is the best way to contribute to and stimulate their development.

  • Place your baby face down on the floor and call his attention with a toy so that he raises his head, exercising his neck muscles and head control;
  • Stimulate their curiosity with toys adapted to each of your baby’s developmental stages and interests. At this stage, multi-coloured and noise-producing toys are very popular;
  • When your baby can sit up for a while, even if supported, place their favourite toys some distance away to encourage them to stretch their arms and throne to reach them;
  • Organise the space so that he can play safely;
  • Say words of encouragement and celebrate together each new achievement, even those that seem very small!

The ages mentioned are indicative. It is good to remember that each child develops at their own pace without this meaning that there is any delay in their development. Premature children, for example, may take longer to acquire certain skills but, even so, there are no rules. If, for any reason, you are worried about your baby’s skills, consult your paediatrician.

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BabyCenter. 2022. When do babies sit up? | BabyCenter. [online] Available at: <https://www.babycenter.com/baby/baby-development/baby-milestones-sitting_6505> [Accessed 31 August 2022].

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