How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down? 6 Top Tips!

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 09/28/21 •  11 min read

They’ve mastered lifting their head during tummy time…!

They’ve mastered rolling over from back to front and front to back…!

They now respond to their name too…!

So the next milestone baby has to master is learning how to sit up from lying down to establish their next level of independence in their developmental journey!

And that’s exactly what today’s article is going to break down for you! How to teach baby to sit up from lying down STEP-BY-STEP!

We all love it when our babies learn and master a new developmental skill

Training your little one to move in a controlled way from the lying-down position to sitting up is a gradual process, but it’s an important skill that needs to be practised just like any other! 

So what are the best ways and activities to help baby learn how to sit up from lying down?

When Should Baby Be Able To Sit Up From Lying Down?

Some babies will master being able to sit up from lying down as young as 7 months of age.

BUT the majority will not be able to until they are around 11 months of age.

REMEMBER: Baby development follows a sequence that can occur within quite a varied time frame… This is definitely the case when it comes to your baby being able to sit up from lying down so don’t worry if your little one hasn’t learnt how to sit up from lying down just yet!

The 5 Stages Of Teaching A Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down

Sitting is a huge milestone for your child as it allows them to see the world from a different perspective and is the gateway to becoming more mobile.

Their ability to sit up creates opportunities to learn a whole new range of movements, such as lying down from sitting, crawling and sitting up from lying down. This means they have more control over what they can do and see.

How to teach baby to sit up from lying down, starts from the moment baby is born and comes in stages that require a lot of practice to build up the appropriate muscles.

1. Supporting Their Own Head

At around 4 months old you will start to notice that your baby can now support the weight of their own head. This is a huge milestone as it is the first sign that baby’s muscles are developing and strengthening as they should!

2. Tummy Time

Tummy time is also hugely important in the lead up to sitting as it strengthens the baby’s upper body, shoulder, neck and core. You may even notice your baby lifting their head and turning it from side to side pushing up on their arms to support their upper body. 

If your baby is struggling with tummy time, check out my post Baby Hates Tummy Time to learn how to navigate this tricky situation.

3. Reaching And Rolling

Next, your baby will start reaching out for toys and eventually, they’ll learn to roll over!

These are both VITAL movements to master in order for your little one to be able to sit properly and move from sitting up to lying down and back.

To learn more about how to teach baby to roll over, check out my post: When Do Babies Roll Over? to learn more.

4. Propping Up And Learning To Balance

Once your baby is supporting their own head, pushing up while on their tummy and rolling over, you can start helping your baby to learn to balance in the sitting position. 

5. Tripod Sitting

To begin with, your baby will use their hand or hands to support themselves when in the sitting position. 

This is perfectly normal until their back and core become strong enough to support them on their own!

Gradually your baby will rely less on their hands for support and will learn to balance and reach for toys in a sitting position successfully. 

Only now will they have reached the final stage of sitting independently!

(It’s a long journey I know…. but it’s worth it in the end!)

6. Moving Into Sitting To Other Positions

Once your baby is strong enough to support themselves in the sitting position and has developed the core, shoulder, arm and back muscles to move about when lying on their front or back, the next stage is learning how to teach baby to sit up from lying down.

How Can I Encourage My Baby To Sit Up?

Learning to sit takes practice and your little one may topple a few times in the process. By knowing what your baby is capable of and what signs to look for, you can encourage your baby to sit up by doing the following:

1. Provide Support

The best way you can do this is by propping them up in the corner of a sofa or between your legs and placing a toy close by.

This position allows your baby to practice the tripod sit by putting out a hand to support themselves and to push themselves back up into the sitting position. 

2. Stay Close And Create A Soft Landing Place

Even if baby is well supported, you MUST keep an eye on your baby at all times when they are learning to sit and ensure that they have a soft place to fall by surrounding them with pillows or cushions.

Babies can easily get spooked if they take an unexpected tumble and this can slow their development of learning to sit independently and ultimately, learning to sit up from lying down.

3. Place Toys For Reaching

Start by placing toys close enough for your little one to reach easily then gradually move them a little further away and to the sides to encourage them to turn from side to side.

4. Don’t Stop Tummy Time

Just because your little one is on the road to independent sitting does NOT mean that tummy time can be reduced. 

Time spent on baby’s tummy is still hugely important and will help with crawling and being able to move from the lying-down position on their front up to sitting.

5. Have Time On Their Backs Too

Time spent on their backs is important too, especially when under play gyms where they have to reach for dangly toys. This strengthens their upper body and arms which are vital to helping baby sit up from lying down!

6. Use A Support Or Boppy Pillow When They’re Ready

If you are going to use a support or Boppy Pillow you should ensure that your baby is developmentally ready to do so. 

Putting your baby in a sitting position for long periods of time before they are ready is not good for their development. 

HOWEVER, once they have the strength these support seats can be perfect for sitting practice.

TOP TIP: Never leave your baby unattended when they are learning to sit, especially if you have them propped up on soft cushions or pillows that they may fall into.

What Muscles Need To Be Developed For Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down?

These are the main areas of muscles that need to be developed for baby to be able to sit up from lying down.

How Does Lying On Their Back Or Front Affect A Baby Learning To Sit Up?

Lying your baby on their back or front are both important activities to include in baby’s day.

These positions help babies learn to sit independently by strengthening their neck, shoulder, upper body, chest and arm muscles – all of which need to be strong in order for your child to sit on their own. 

These muscles are also needed for them to be able to support themselves when they want to sit up from lying down or lie down from sitting!

4 Amazing Activities To Practise With Baby To Teach Them To Sit Up From Lying Down Independently

Learning how to teach baby to sit up from lying down can seem daunting at first, but here are 4 fantastic activities to get you started on this developmental journey!

1. Tummy Time

How? For a few minutes at a time, lay your baby on their tummy on an activity mat or in front of a tummy time mirror or place a toy just out of reach.

Why Do I Like It? Tummy time is without doubt an essential part of your baby’s physical development. It is the foundation on which all of your baby’s physical progress will be built, including sitting.

Muscles Developed? Neck, shoulder, arm and upper body.

How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down_ Tummy Time

2. Toy Reaching

How? Place a toy just out of reach for your baby to lean forwards or sideways to grab. As they lean over, they will put out a hand to balance them in a tripod sitting position and will then push off on that hand to sit up straight again.

Why Do I Like It? This activity teaches your baby balance but also teaches your baby to use their arm to push them up into a sitting position. This is part of the action required to move from their tummy to sitting.

Muscles Developed? Upper torso and arms.

How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down_ Toy Reach

3. Mock Sitting

How? Place your baby on your lap and let them use your body like a backrest. Offer your baby different and interesting toys or books to play and look at to keep your baby entertained while they are practising sitting.

Why Do I Like It? This is a lovely way to help your baby learn to sit as you get to play intimately with them and it is very bonding too.

Muscles Developed? Back muscles.

How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down_ Mock Sitting

4. Rolling Over

How? Spending time on their backs will lead to your baby learning to roll over. Place toys just out of their reach to encourage them to roll onto their side and then help them make the final move onto their tummy. You should practise on both sides.

Why Do I Like It? Learning to roll over from their back to their tummy will put your baby on the road to transitioning from lying down to sitting up.

Muscles Developed? Core, neck and back muscles.

Read This: When Do Babies Roll Over to learn more about how to help baby master this vital skill!

How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down_ Rolling Over

When To See A Doctor

As with all things baby development related, there are no hard and fast rules as to when they achieve certain milestones. 

However, most babies will have learned to sit by the time they are 6 months old and be able to sit up from lying down by 9 months old. 

If your baby is not showing signs of sitting independently by this age, you should consult a medical professional to identify or rule out any gross motor skill delays.

How To Teach Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down Recap

When it comes to teaching your baby to sit up from lying down you need to do the groundwork to help baby learn to sit confidently FIRST.

Getting muscles and balance ready for sitting starts long before your baby is actually able to do so and that is why it is important that you ensure your baby engages in the foundation activities of tummy time, lying on their back and rolling over.

Once their muscles are strong enough, you can move on to propping them up and helping them to develop a sense of balance while sitting as well as continuing to strengthen their muscles.

Once sitting confidently is established, you can move on to teaching them to move up to a sitting position from a lying-down position which again takes practise and requires some help from you as demonstrated in this video:

These exercises will help your baby to learn how to shift their weight in order to move from lying to sitting.

REMEMBER: Practice makes perfect! So do this exercise often, particularly when you are changing their nappy or just playing on the floor together!

What To Do Next

A great next step is to learn about how to teach your little one to lie down from sitting up (the opposite of what we’ve discussed today) so be sure to check out this post: How To Teach A Baby To Lay Down From Sitting to learn more!

I hope you have enjoyed learning about the fundamental principles of how to teach baby to sit up from lying down and if you know of any other parents who would benefit from reading it, please share it around! 

As always, if you have any further questions about how to teach baby to sit up from lying down or if you have any blog post recommendations for me, drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know!

So until next time, with love and support, Happy Parenting!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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