When Do Babies Sit Up From Lying Down? How Can We Help?

Author Image By Paula McLaren BA (Hons) Early Years Development & Learning •  Updated: 03/22/23 •  Baby » Baby Development

We all love it when our babies learn and master a new developmental skill… And learning how to sit up from lying down is a gross motor skill required to progress along their developmental journey.

So, when do babies sit up from lying down? And how can we support them in achieving this milestone?

When Do Babies Sit Up From Lying Down?

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

These are the main muscles that need to be developed for baby to be able to sit up from lying down are their:

How Do You Help Baby Learn To Sit Up From Lying Down?

Your baby’s ability to sit up creates opportunities to learn a whole new range of movements, such as lying down from sitting, balancing, crawling, and eventually walking.

And knowing WHEN do babies sit up from lying down and HOW do babies learn to sit up from lying down are two important factors in establishing this developmental skill.

Learning to sit takes patience and practice and your little one may topple a few times in the process. But, you can encourage your baby to sit up from lying down by doing the following:

When Do Babies Sit Up From Lying Down - How Can I Encourage My Baby To Sit Up From Lying Down

1. Provide Support For Baby

The best way you can help your baby learn to sit up from lying down is to prop them up in the corner of a sofa or between your legs and place 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 your baby is well supported, you MUST keep an eye on them 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 as they will be hesitant to want to stay in that position again in case they fall again.

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. Sensory rattles and soft toys are wonderful as they usually make noise and are brightly coloured to capture baby’s attention.

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

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.

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

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.

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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 to use these support seats, used under supervision, boppy pillows can be perfect for sitting practice and help develop the muscles needed for your baby to sit up from lying down.

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Sit Up From Lying Down Exercise

Knowing when do babies sit up from lying down can seem like a daunting task to teach your baby… but here are 4 fantastic activities to get you started developing the appropriate muscles required to achieve this action:

  1. Tummy time. Tummy time is a very important exercise for young babies as it helps to develop the muscles needed to sit up, roll over and eventually start crawling and walking. Whilst also helping babies refine their motor skills and preventing Flat Head Syndrome (positional plagiocephaly).
  2. Toy and rattle reaching. Toy reaching is a fantastic activity to refine your baby’s balancing skills and improve the muscle strength in their upper torso, core and arms as they lean, reach and grab toys around them. Beautifully simple, your baby will be enticed to reach toys beyond their grasp with noise, rattles and lots of encouragement from you.
  3. Mock sitting. Mock sitting is a super simple but very effective activity to help your baby learn to sit up by themselves. Supported by your body, baby will refine their balancing skills and back muscle strength required to sit up independently in no time. This is also a wonderful bonding activity for you both too.
  4. Rolling over. Helping baby learn to roll over (either on the floor or on you as shown in the video below) is a great activity to strengthen their core, back and neck muscles that are required to sit up from lying down. Babies will also love the freedom of movement as they begin to explore their bodies and the world around them from different perspectives.

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

As I mentioned earlier, lying baby on their back and front are both important activities to include in your baby’s day.

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

When To See A Doctor About Physical Development Delays

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.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren - The founder of Teething to Tantrums has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny and Childcare Expert since 1982. Her qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) plus the highly prestigious Norland Diploma, recognized as the best early years practitioner qualification in the world. During her 40+ years of experience, she has worked as a night nanny (specializing in solving sleep issues), run a very successful daycare center in London, and raised almost 100 children, including her son, to be kind, healthy, and happy individuals with her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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