When Do Babies Start Sitting Up? Baby’s 1st Major Milestone!

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 03/01/22 •  11 min read  •  Baby » Baby Development

Babies hit so many milestones in their first few months!

From their first smile, their first spontaneous roll and the beginnings of their personalities starting to shine…

It’s only a matter of time until they are up and about!

After all… sitting up is one of the first big physical milestones your baby will reach and it will change the way in which they view and interact with their world!

When Can Babies Sit Up On Their Own?

Sadly, babies do not just suddenly decide to sit up on their own… 

They spend a lot of time in the early months building up the necessary muscle strength and balance to achieve the act of sitting up alone.

But by 9 months they will be sitting independently! 

They may still need a little help to get out of sitting positions though…

What Are The Stages Of Learning To Sit Independently?

The process of learning to sit starts as soon as your baby is born but it is a very gradual process…

Your baby needs to strengthen their neck muscles in order to be able to hold their head up… 

And then they need to build up the strength in their upper body, arms and abdominal muscles and balance!

So what can we expect from our sitting baby at different months?

The-4-Stages-Of-Learning-To-Sit-Up

Learning To Sit Up At 2 Months

By 2 months old, your baby will be able to hold their head up for short periods of time and look around while lying on their tummy.

Learning To Sit Up At 4 Months

At around 4 months, your baby will be able to hold their head upright and steady for longer periods of time without support. 

Your baby will also do mini push-ups during tummy time which will help to strengthen their upper body in preparation for sitting.

Learning To Sit Up At 6 Months

By 6 months baby will be able to sit upright using their hands for support, with a straight back and their head up. 

They may be able to sit independently for short periods of time but will generally need some sort of support from you.

Learning To Sit Up Between 7 and 9 Months

Coming up to 9 months old, your baby will be able to sit without support and lean and reach for toys easily without falling over. 

What Are The Best Exercises To Teach Baby To Sit Up?

Babies need to exercise their arms, abdominal muscles, backs, and legs since they use all of these to get into a sitting position or support themselves when sitting.

There are lots of things that you can do to help teach your baby to sit up by exercising these crucial muscles!

9 Exercises To Teach Baby To Sit Up Independently

1. Tummy Time

The best early exercise for your baby to help them to learn to sit is to practise tummy time. 

There is no better way for your little one to strengthen those all-important upper body muscles than by spending time on their tummy!

If your little one is struggling with tummy time, check out my post Baby Hates Tummy Time to get them loving it again!

2. Supporting Them As They Explore The World

As well as tummy time, a great way to help baby develop their muscles is to hold your baby in an upright position (with your hand supporting their upper back and neck) and walk around the room so they can twist, bend and generally look around!

3. Playing On Your Lap

Placing baby facing outwards on your lap in a sitting position to show them a toy or baby book that they can play with and reach for is a great sitting exercise. 

It will help them to exercise their upper body and develop some balance in preparation to sit up independently.

4. Propping

There are some great pillows out there that you can use to prop your baby on once they have adequate strength in their upper body and neck. 

This Infantino Prop Pillow is a great way to help your baby to learn to sit. 

Its high back offers lots of support and the bright colours make it interesting for your baby to be around.

Infantino Prop-A-Pillar Tummy Time & Seated Support Pillow


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5. Placing Toys Just Out Of Reach

When your baby is propped up, sitting on your lap or between your legs, place toys to one side slightly out of reach. 

This sitting exercise will allow your little one to develop their balance as they reach forward. 

Make sure you are ready to catch them if they have a little wobble!

6. Sitting Baby Between Your Legs

Sitting your baby between your legs and helping them play in a sitting position is also a great and safe way to practise sitting.

Be sure to place your hands near the hips rather than under their arms when supporting them as this will ensure they tilt from their base rather than their chest!

7. Use Sitting Toys (they’re not what you think)

Once your baby is on the cusp of sitting independently you can begin to use sitting toys. 

A sitting toy is NOT one that you put your baby in to sit in a position that they are not developmentally ready for. 

Sitting toys are ones that your baby can play and engaged with while propped in a sitting position such as this LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table!

This toy can be used flat on the floor and as they grow, it can be used on its legs so it has wonderful longevity. This is simply a wonderful toy for your little one to play with whilst in a sitting position.

LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table


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8. Practise Balancing

Once your baby is well on their way to sitting, place them on a soft play mat in a sitting position. 

Let them wobble and put their hands out to support them. 

After all… a little wobbling helps them to learn how to balance while sitting.

Just be on hand to ensure they don’t take a big tumble as this may scare them from trying to sit unaided for longer.

9. Pulling Baby To Sit

Once your baby has developed enough strength in their neck muscles and upper body (usually around 6 months of age) you can start pulling your baby to sit by holding their hands and pulling them gently into a sitting position from lying down. 

You can then lower them down again and repeat them a couple of times. 

This is a great way to strengthen your baby’s core muscles!

Here’s a wonderful video from Dr. Jena Bradley showing you How To Teach Baby To Sit Up!

What Milestones Come After Sitting Up?

Once your baby has learnt to sit independently it will not be long before they move on to learning to get in and out of the sitting position, followed by learning to crawl, pulling to stand and eventually walking by their first birthday!

Phew!

That’s a lot to master!

So When Do Babies 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.

I have written a whole post about when do babies sit up from lying down, so be sure to click here to read the full article…

But in case, you just want a quick rundown of how to help your baby reach this milestone, here you go!

  1. Provide plenty of support for baby
  2. Stay close and create a soft landing place
  3. Place toys for reaching
  4. Don’t stop tummy time
  5. Have time on their backs too
  6. Use support or boppy pillows when they’re ready

How To Teach A Baby To Lay Down From Sitting

I have also written a dedicated post all about teaching your baby to lay down from sitting, so click here to check it out!

But for a quick 4 step rundown…

  1. Make sure they have plenty of playtime on their tummy
  2. Encourage baby to move from sitting to lying down on a soft surface while reaching for a toy
  3. Avoid putting baby in bouncy seats, pods and swings for daytime sitting
  4. Practice moving from sitting to lying down several times a day

When Do Babies Start Sitting Up FAQs

Here are some common questions I get asked about when do babies start sitting up and sitting development, so I hope they may answer any thoughts you have!

Of course, if you have a question about when babies sit up that I haven’t answered, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I will get back to you as soon as I can with any advice and help!

Why Can’t My Baby Sit Up By Themselves By 12 Months?

All babies develop at their own rate, but if your baby is not sitting by 12 months of age and you have been offering all the support and opportunities for your baby to learn to sit… 

It does not necessarily mean there is anything to worry about….

But you should seek medical advice to rule out any developmental issues.

What Are The Reasons Why My Baby Can’t Sit Up?

Babies may not learn to sit as expected if they have not been given the opportunities to strengthen the right muscles. 

Also, they may not be sitting because there is an underlying developmental issue. 

If you are at all concerned about your baby’s development or feel they are not progressing as expected then you should seek medical advice.

Do Baby Bouncers Help Baby Learn To Sit?

Baby bouncers will not help your baby to learn to sit.

The best way for a baby to learn to sit is by practising the exercise I mentioned above without artificial support from a bouncer.

After Learning To Sit Up, When Will Baby Start Crawling?

Crawling will normally follow on very quickly once your baby has learnt to sit up on their own!

I’ve written a dedicated post all about When Do Babies Start Crawling, so be sure to give it a read to know what to expect and learn how to prepare your house!

Final Note

Sitting up is a tough skill for your baby to master. 

Babies develop at their own rates, so please do not panic if your baby has not reached their sitting milestone when compare to their peers. 

You know your baby best, so…

Trust your instincts and do what you believe is right.

I hope you have enjoyed this post about when do babies start sitting up and as I mentioned earlier…

If you have any further questions about your baby’s sitting journey, be sure to email me at [email protected] and I will get back to you with as much help and information as I can! 

As always, thank you for reading and until next time, with love and support, Happy Parenting!

Paula McLaren

Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare 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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