When Can Baby Sit Up, Plus 10 Ways To Help Them Reach This Milestone
Medically reviewed by Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP
Your baby will master many milestones during their first year of life, including sitting up on their own. But many parents often wonder, “When can baby sit up?”
In this article, you’ll discover when your baby might be ready to sit up, the signs and stages of sitting up, and 10 ways to help your little one master this fun and important milestone!
Table Of Contents
- When Can Baby Sit Up?
- The Meaning Of Sitting Up
- Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Sit Up
- The Stages Of Sitting Up
- When Can Baby Sit Up: 10 Ways To Help
- Staying Safe When Sitting Up
When Can Baby Sit Up?
Holding their head up, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing, and walking are all big milestones that will take place in your baby’s first year of life.
That said, each baby is uniquely made, so pinpointing an exact age when your baby will sit up is a little tricky.
On average, babies start trying to sit up around four to five months old. This is sitting up with some help. At this age, your baby should have strong neck support and be able to hold their head up well.
The six- or seven-month mark is the sweet spot for sitting up for most babies.
The Meaning Of Sitting Up
Sitting up unassisted is a major milestone in your little one’s development. It’s a small but significant step toward greater independence and gives your baby a new vantage point of their world.
Accomplishing this feat is a sign that their gross motor skills are developing as they should be and that your child is developing strength in their neck, shoulders, stomach, back, and hips.
For most babies, the ability to sit up on their own is a sign that they’re probably ready to start transitioning from breast milk or formula to solid foods. They need to be able to sit upright and support their head and neck to prevent choking when eating solids.
Once your little one is sitting up, they might start crawling soon. In fact, some babies may already be scooting on all fours before sitting. But don't be alarmed if your baby skips the crawling stage altogether, as some babies may go straight to walking.
You can start preparing your baby for this important breakthrough very soon after they’re born. How can you tell when they’ll soon be ready to sit up by themselves? It’s usually not hard to tell. Let’s take a look below.
Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Sit Up
Your baby will give you some clues to let you know when they’re ready to start trying to sit up.
First, they’ll show you that they have good head control. This means they’re able to hold their head up on their own (and they’re out of the “bobblehead” stage).
Next, your baby will start doing push-ups during tummy time, or at least that’s what it will look like. After a few tries, they might even push themselves into a seated position.
They may also try to lift their head and shoulders while on their back, almost like they’re doing crunches, to try to get a better view of their surroundings.
Lastly, another telltale sign that your baby is ready to sit up is when they’re able to roll from belly to back and then from back to belly.
Mastering all of these milestones builds up the muscles that are needed to support your little one when they finally sit up on their own.
The Stages Of Sitting Up
Your little one goes through different stages of sitting up before they master the skill.
In this stage, your baby is sitting up, but staying in an upright position totally depends on support from you or other objects propping them up.
They’re not really sitting by themselves at all, if we’re being honest, but hey, we all have to start somewhere!
What’s happening here is simply opening up your child’s brain to the concept that there is such a thing as a seated position.
In this stage, your baby begins to figure out how to keep themselves upright without constant support. This is a matter of developing strength and control over their trunk muscles.
Stay close by to “spot” them at this stage because they’ll wobble over a lot. They may simply topple over on purpose when they don’t want to sit up anymore because they don’t know how to transition out of the position.
During the tripod sit, your baby uses both of their arms to steady their body weight. Their arms and body mimic the kickstands on a tripod (and it’s adorable!).
In this position, your baby will rock and sway. Surround them with lots of pillows and blankets because they tend to topple over quite a bit in this position.
This stage may last for a few months, but that’s OK! It’s preparing them for the next one.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! This stage is when your baby is no longer rocking and swaying, but sitting up confidently without having to use their arms for support.
When your baby can sit up on their own, it opens new doors of opportunity. Your little one can now explore and discover their world from a whole different perspective.
In this stage, your child has figured out how to make the transition from a lying down or crawling position to a sitting position, doesn’t need to prop themselves up, and can transition back out of a sitting position smoothly.
The months-long process is now complete: your baby has truly learned to sit up. The next stop on the developmental train is crawling; more on that later!
When Can Baby Sit Up: 10 Ways To Help
1) Strengthen Their Muscles
Help your baby sit up by strengthening and building their muscles.
Obviously, we don’t mean to take your baby to the gym and work on getting impressive gains (although baby workout clothes would probably be adorable).
Although your baby’s muscles will get stronger and more supple naturally with time, there are still some “exercises” you can help them through that will aid the process.
To do this, lay your baby on their back and hold their hands. Gently pull them up into the sitting position. Repeat several times.
Be sure to make this fun and engaging for your baby. When you pull them up, make a silly face or give them a kiss!
These simple exercises will help your little one develop their muscles and get used to the motion of sitting up, but to them, it will just seem like playtime with mom or dad.
If only you could have as much fun at the gym!
2) Use An Infant Seat
An infant seat (like a Boppy chair) will help your baby sit up. It gives them the support they need while strengthening their muscles.
Place your baby in an infant seat for playtime a few times per day so their body can get familiar with this position.
Don’t use an infant seat until your baby has developed the ability to support their head and trunk. You want them to be sitting in the middle of the seat, not slumped forward or to the side.
It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t leave your baby in an infant seat unsupervised or place an infant seat on a high surface, like a table.
Since a good infant seat limits your baby’s range of motion, you shouldn’t use time in an infant seat as a substitute for some of the other more motion-intensive methods of getting your baby ready to sit up.
Think of the infant seat as giving your baby a preview of the new vantage point of their surroundings they’ll be able to enjoy once they can sit up.
3) Take A Stroll
For a change of scenery, take your baby for a stroll. Sit your baby up in their stroller and make sure they’re strapped in correctly.
Point out things you see as you walk so your baby will turn and lean their head. This prepares their muscles and helps their body adjust to the sitting-up position.
It might also allow connections to form in your baby’s developing mind so they associate the sitting position with new and interesting experiences and are more motivated to sit up themselves.
Enjoy those walks with the stroller. Once your baby is sitting, crawling, toddling, and walking on their own will come before you know it!
4) Sit With Your Baby
This is a simple but sweet activity of bonding with your baby. Prop your baby up in your lap in the sitting position. Use this time to sing some songs or read them a book.
You can start any time after your baby can hold their head up steadily on their own (usually about four months).
Try gently rocking back and forth as you sing to encourage your baby to keep their upper and lower body aligned. Hold them close so you’re in position to steady any head wobbles.
Once your baby reaches seven or eight months, you can let them sit on the floor instead of your lap, although you can keep them between your legs to provide support. Hold their back up straight while reading to them.
It’s all about getting your baby used to the sitting position and getting them used to using their muscles and motor skills to stay there. And, of course, for you, it’s a time to make sweet memories.
5) Use A Pillow
Help your baby reach this milestone by using a pillow as a prop.
If your little one is sitting in the tripod position, they can easily topple over. The same can happen when they’re able to sit up unassisted for a few seconds.
Surround your baby with comfy pillows or blankets for a bit of extra support.
Of course, you shouldn’t leave your baby propped up with pillows unsupervised for all of the same reasons that you don’t want to fill their crib with pillows and blankets when they sleep.
You also shouldn’t sit your baby up on a bed, couch, or armchair without surrounding support. Making sure they have a soft place to land if they wobble over is great, but it’s just as important that they’re supported while they’re still working on their muscle strength and control.
6) Play Ball
Roll a ball back and forth with your baby (you’ll need an extra pair of hands for this one!).
Have someone sit across from you while your baby sits propped up in your lap. Help your baby roll the ball to the other person.
Their muscles will get stronger as they lean forward to push the ball, which will come in handy once they get the hang of sitting up!
7) Allow Independent Play
Motivation is an important factor for anyone who’s in the process of learning a new skill.
As much as you want to always play with your baby, they need some supervised independent play. If they’re in the tripod position, place a toy in front of your little one and let them try reaching for it.
You might also try placing toys in an elevated position to encourage them to reach out. Place them in a sitting position near vertically elevated toys — supporting their back — and make sure they look up to notice the enticing objects.
8) Take Advantage Of Tummy Time
Tummy time is a great activity to strengthen your baby’s neck, back, and core muscles. Unfortunately, some babies are not fans of tummy time. But with practice, they’ll eventually get used to it.
Lay your baby on their belly on their comfortable Newton Baby Crib Mattress. While your little one is playing, place a couple of toys in front of them so they can practice reaching.
You can begin supervised tummy time with full-term babies in the first week, as long as the umbilical cord stump has fallen off.
For newborns, it’s likely tummy time won’t last more than a couple of minutes before they start to cry. That’s OK! Just be consistent with daily practice.
Your baby will be sitting up in the blink of an eye when they do this a couple of times per day!
9) Practice Makes Progress
Try not to give up or get frustrated if your baby is still not sitting up at six or seven months. Remember all babies are different!
Keep working with your little one by trying the activities above. Your baby may need a little more time to really build up their muscles.
Although experts say that it’s typical for most babies to be able to sit up with help by about six months of age, if they’re showing signs of progress but not quite there by that point, don’t be concerned.
Continue giving them opportunities to practice the skills required for sitting up and increase their confidence and awareness of their bodies.
10) Give Your Baby Time
We recommend giving your little one nine months to fully master this milestone. If at that time you have concerns about your baby’s development, reach out to your pediatrician.
There are specific things to watch out for as you help your baby practice sitting up that could be signs of developmental delay. We’ll talk about these more later in the article.
However, simply lagging slightly behind the average age in achieving the sitting-up milestone shouldn’t cause you serious alarm.
All of the timeline guidance we give in this article assumes that your baby was born full-term. For babies born even a few weeks prematurely, it’s not uncommon for there to be a corresponding lag in them reaching developmental milestones.
Signs Of A Developmental Delay
Taking a long time to learn to sit up could be a sign of a delay in the development of your baby’s gross motor skills.
As we mentioned before, the usual timelines given for sitting up and other developmental milestones assume your baby was born full-term. It’s not uncommon for premature babies to need an extra month or two. Your doctor can help you predict an adjusted timeline.
Experts generally recommend that if your baby can’t sit up, even with support, by nine months, you should consult a pediatrician.
Many motor skill delays can be resolved through physical therapy.
While every baby develops and grows at their own pace, there are a few things to keep an eye on. If you notice any of the following signs, reach out to your baby’s doctor right away:
- Stiff muscles
- Doesn’t have strong head control
- Can’t bring objects to their mouth
- Only uses one hand
If you have any other concerns that raise a red flag in your mind, don’t hesitate to make a quick call to the pediatrician.
Staying Safe When Sitting Up
Once your baby gets the whole sitting-up thing down pat, it might be time to adjust the crib height.
If your little one can sit up and the crib mattress is positioned too high, it could quickly become a dangerous situation. For example, they could pull themselves up and topple over the side of the crib.
Additionally, have your Extra Crib Mattress Covers handy since your baby will move around a lot more in their crib now!
Another idea is to keep the area around their crib or playing spot safe. Just because they’re able to sit stationary doesn’t mean they won’t move around.
Even though you put your baby down on a blanket to play in the living room or backyard, it doesn’t mean they’ll stay confined to the four corners of the blanket. To keep your little one safe while allowing them to sit up, consider putting them in a play yard instead of directly on the floor.
The Newton Baby Travel Crib & Play Yard is ideal for exactly this! Our premium play yard boasts the largest surface area available (2x larger than the competition!) for an extended lifetime of use and tons of room for better sleep and play.
As we mentioned, after your little one is sitting up unassisted, the next important milestone will be crawling. Some babies progress from sitting to crawling very quickly, while others may take a few months. Either way, it will probably feel like it’s happening before you know it!
Now is a good time to start babyproofing if you haven’t done so already. This means covering outlets, making sure cords are out of the way, and keeping sharp objects covered or away.
You’ll love watching your baby explore their world once they become mobile, but you’ll want to have peace of mind while they do it.
When it comes to babyproofing, it can be helpful to assess one room at a time. Although there are some things you’ll probably need to do throughout the house, like installing outlet covers, different rooms present different potential hazards.
Sitting Up And Sleeping Well
When can your baby sit up? Remember that all babies are uniquely made and hit milestones at different ages. The sweet spot for babies to start sitting up on their own is around six or seven months, but it could take up to nine months.
Try using our 10 ways to help your baby sit up on their own. Once your little one does sit up unassisted, keep the area around them safe. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, reach out to their doctor right away.
When your baby masters certain milestones, their body will be exhausted by the end of the day. Your little one needs somewhere safe and comfortable to lay their head down at night.
Celebrate your baby hitting this milestone by giving them the gift of a good night’s sleep with our breathable Crib Mattress!