When Can Babies Sit Up By Themselves?

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 she was just a helpless little infant and now she’s getting more and more mobile and more independent. And, soon enough, your baby will reach the stage when babies are able to sit up all on their own. Find out when your baby might start sitting up first with your 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 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 his own pace, so your little one may develop these abilities a little earlier or later than this.

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 her trying to tripod, which is when she leans forward while extending her arms to balance her upper body. This is one of the first signs that she’ll soon be able to sit up.

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

How Can You Help Your Baby Learn to Sit Up?

For your baby to be able to sit up on her own, she’ll need to develop strength and balance in her trunk, back, head, and neck.

Here are some of the things you can do to help your baby learn how to sit:

  • Once your baby has enough head control, start encouraging him to raise his 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 her chest, too, you can start to practice sitting up. Hold your baby up in a seated position, support her back with a pillow, or prop her up in a corner of the sofa. This will help her learn to maintain her balance in this new position.

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

Eventually, your little one will be able to maneuver herself into a sitting posture without help from you and without the need to tripod. She may place her arms by her sides to support herself.

By about 9 months old, your baby may be able to play for an extended period while sitting upright on the floor. She’ll likely be able to pivot her torso to reach for toys.

In Summary

Daily tummy time with your close supervision helps your baby strengthen her back and neck muscles, strength that’s needed to sit up without support. Encourage her to look up and raise her 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 she’ll use her 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 on, typically between 6 and 8 months of age when she has the necessary muscle control and strength as well as the ability to maintain her balance.

Should a 6-Month-Old Baby Be Able to Sit Up?

A 6-month-old may be able to sit up, 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!

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 his neck upward to look around during tummy time

  • Grabbing his feet or objects near him while lying on his back

  • Rolling over on his own

  • Leaning over (like a tripod) while sitting

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

All of this development mentioned above helps strengthen his muscles, which will be very important for eventually learning to stand and then take his 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 she can’t fall out by leaning against the side or pulling herself 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 he pulls on it.

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 can’t sit 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 his 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 she’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.

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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