During your baby’s first year, his milestones rush by at a rapid pace. However, of all the early milestones, sitting up is an especially exciting one both for you and your baby, since it opens a brand new world of exploration and play. Not only that, but it makes mealtimes easier and gives your little one the opportunity to view the world around them in a totally different way. Some babies are able to sit from 6-months of age as long as they have some help to get into position. For most babies, sitting independently is something they master between seven and nine months.
How Do I Know if my Baby is Ready to Sit?
Although there’s no definite way of knowing whether your baby is suddenly going to sit independently, there are a few signs to look out for. Firstly, if they can control their head well, and their bodily motions are becoming more purposeful and controlled, this is a good indicator that your baby may be sitting up soon.
Babies getting ready for independent sitting will also probably push themselves up if they’re lying face down. They may also have learned how to roll themselves over.
If you put your baby into an upright position, they may begin by sitting up for brief periods. You should ensure your little one has adequate support at this stage though, to guard against falls.
Babies getting closer to sitting independently, around the age of 7-9 months, will probably already be able to roll over in both directions. A few will be scooting backwards and forwards, preparing to crawl. Others may be experimenting with pushing themselves up into a tripod position – sitting upright supporting with one hand (or two hands) on the floor.
Before learning how to get into a sitting position independently, babies usually first learn how to hold themselves upright when placed in a sitting position. With practice, though, they’ll grow in confidence and strength, and soon, they’ll be sitting up independently!
How Do I Help my Baby Learn how to Sit?
The best way for your little one to learn how to sit independently is to get lots of practice, so make sure you give your baby the chance to practice sitting upright as much as possible. This will help them to gain more strength that will allow them to sit on their own. When your baby sits independently, he will need to control his weight, shifting it from right to left, and from back to front. As a result, lots of practice and strength is needed to get the balance right.
You can help your little one learn how to sit independently by trying the following:
- Give your baby lots of practice. Remain nearby, but allow them to experiment and explore their body movements and different approaches.
- Spending more time on the floor can help your little one to become more independent. Some people think that seat positioners are a good way to practice independent sitting, but actually, floor play a couple of times a day using age-appropriate toys is more effective.
- Put your baby in a seated position on your knee or on the floor between your legs. You can sing songs, play movement games or read books in this position.
- Once your little one has more independence, place padding or pillows around them and supervise as they practice sitting on the floor. Never put your baby on a high surface.
Is There a Connection Between Sitting and Tummy Time?
Although it may not be immediately obvious, spending time on his tummy is a vital building block to prepare your baby to sit independently. Not all babies like to play on their tummy for extended periods, so begin with just a couple of minutes one or two times daily. Choose times when your baby has rested well and make sure his diaper is clean. Get down on the floor on your stomach too. This puts you at your baby’s eye level. If your little one can see your face, he may be more motivated to remain in that position for a longer period of time. Another option is putting a soft baby mirror on the floor in front of your baby so he can look at his own face. Once your baby is used to playing in that position, it’s possible to increase the length of time they spend having tummy time.
Is it Safe to Use a Baby Seat?
There are several different brands of baby seat available for sale that can be used from the time your baby is capable of holding his head up independently. However, it’s important to be aware that if babies are put into a sitting position for too long or at too early an age, it could negatively impact on their skills development. Although your baby will be sitting upright, in fact, he won’t be developing the vital head and trunk control that allows them to sit independently with ease. These skills are best developed by practicing body movements without a special seat. With that in mind, it’s probably best to wait until your little one is nearer their sitting milestone before you introduce a baby seat. Waiting until 6-8 months is the optimal time to start putting your baby in one of these seats.
How Can I Keep my Baby Safe When Learning to Sit?
If your little one is only just beginning to learn how to sit supported, it’s a good idea to place them between your legs in a seated position so you can support them on every side. If you like, pillows are helpful props, but make sure you never leave your little one unattended if propped upright in this way.
Although your little one isn’t cruising about yet, sitting independently is a key sign that it’s time to start thinking about babyproofing your home ready for him to become more mobile. You should take the following action quickly before your baby finds his feet:
- Put outlet covers on all sockets in the rooms your baby uses.
- Secure areas and other items properly. You can use toilet locks, cabinet locks, baby gates and furniture anchors for this purpose.
- Make sure any poisonous substances and choking hazards are out of your baby’s reach.
- Once your baby can sit, lower their crib mattress to the lowest setting. Once your baby reaches this milestone, pulling himself up won’t be far behind and babies practice motor skills at any time, even if they should be asleep!
- Make sure you always fasten the safety belt on sitting devices and highchairs. Independent sitting requires lots of strength so your little one might need some additional support provided by the straps, particularly if seated for a longer period of time. Never place a seat on a high surface or close to water either.
My Baby Isn’t Sitting – Should I be Worried?
Many parents worry that their baby isn’t developing at the right pace. However, in many cases, there’s nothing to be concerned about. If your little one isn’t sitting independently by 9-months of age, talk to your pediatrician. If your baby can’t sit upright supported when reaching this age, you should also consult your pediatrician. Although all babies reach their milestones differently, this could indicate a gross motor skills development delay.
There are a few other signs of motor delay to look out for including:
- Tight or stiff muscles
- Only reaches with one hand
- Floppy movements
- Lack of head control
- Doesn’t reach out or bring objects to their mouth
If you’re worried about any aspect of your child’s development, talk to your nurse or doctor first. They can refer you, if necessary, to the right services for young children and infants.
My Baby is Sitting up! What Happens Next?
Once your baby can sit independently, you have more milestones to look forward to! These vary between babies, but as your little one approaches his first birthday he will probably start to pull himself up into a standing position, begin crawling and creeping on the floor, cruising around furniture and taking his first steps with support before finally walking on his own.
Once your little one is sitting, it’s time to foster his independence even more. Start practicing how to get from the floor into a sitting position. Practicing this helps to strengthen the core muscles while helping your baby to gain more confidence in their newly learned position. Toys which engage play in that position are useful now. Good toy choices for this stage of development include:
- Ring stackers
- Activity cubes
- Shape sorters
- Soft blocks
Now your baby can sit up he is more autonomous. Soon, he’ll start to experiment by lunging forward. This may happen as early as 6-7 months and he may be crawling by ten months. Make sure you’re ready and get your home child-proofed as soon as you can! Your little one is on his way to becoming a toddler!