When Will My Baby Sit Up?
Every baby develops at their own pace and there are even some milestones that not every baby will achieve at all, such as crawling. Learning to sit up is an important stage in development though as they get stronger and develop better coordination and balance. Sitting up for the first time is an exciting development for your baby as it really marks the first signs of independent movement for them.
The Road to Sitting Up
Your baby has been preparing for the moment they sit up even before they were born. As with most of the physical milestones covered in this area of the site, your baby first needs to strengthen and gain control of the muscles that they will need to master the movement. As adults we're aware that every move we make involves a signal travelling from our brain to the part of our body we want to move. It may happen subconsciously and instantly, but this skill of translating thought to movement is something that has to be developed from birth. Your baby's brain needs to mature enough to make this possible. So, before your baby can attempt to sit up, a complex collection of other skills need to be developed first. What can be seen in the physical development of most babies is that body control starts from the top down. Head and neck control come first followed by torso and back and then legs. So before your baby is ready to sit up, they'll have to learn to start supporting their own head comfortably.
How You Can Encourage Your Baby's Sitting Skills
You may be wondering how to tell when your baby is ready to start sitting up. You'll see a few signs from day to day that show an increasing confidence and body control. For example, when you place baby on their front, they may start to straighten their arms and arch their back to push themselves up. At this stage you could start to think about encouraging your baby's ability to sit. A great way is to try sitting behind your baby with your legs either side of their legs and playing together with toys in front of you. Not only will you provide support, but also this closeness and interaction is beneficial for you both. At other times you could try sitting your baby up by using cushions to prop all around them. Be mindful that they are not able to sit up independently yet and could topple in any direction, so ensure plenty of padding. A play nest can be beneficial at this stage. These are inflatable rings with toys attached for baby to explore. Your baby can be nestled in the middle and enjoy play whilst surrounded by a soft surface.
As your baby practises their skills, you will soon notice they are able to sit up more and more confidently on their own. This is usually seen between four and seven months. Don't forget, though, that they are still practising and could lose their balance at any time, so be careful to ensure their surroundings are safe.
What Comes Next?
Once sitting up, your baby may begin to take steps towards crawling. Not every baby crawls before walking but most do. As they are sitting, you may notice them starting to stretch towards objects just out of reach. To begin with, this might just result in a slump to the side, but sooner or later it could develop into making those first attempts to crawl.
All babies develop at very different rates and if your baby hasn't reached the same milestones as other people's babies the chances are there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are concerned that your child is very late in reaching one or a number of milestones then it is sensible to seek further professional advice from either your health visitor or GP. We have more information on the variable rates of development in babies here.