Babies achieve an important milestone in their developmental process when they learn to sit on their own without any support, trying to get a feel of the world around them. They acquire the skill of sitting when they have mastered the art of rolling over in both directions, also being able to hold their head up in an upright position. Only after being able to sit conveniently, an infant will be able to crawl and finally stand on his own feet.
Most babies begin learning to sit up when they are four to seven months of age as their motor skills start developing gradually. In the third and fourth months, the head and neck muscles start gathering strength, helping the baby to raise his head and hold it in that position during tummy time .
In between five and six months, your baby usually starts to sit up with your help, holding his head in an upright position, keeping the back straight. He may even be able to sit for a second or so without taking any assistance from you, before toppling down after a while .
As their muscles get stronger with every advancing month, they will be able to sit unsupported for a longer time. By the time they are eight months of age, babies attempt sitting up on their own by thrusting pressure on their arms while lying on their stomach as their back muscles get stronger and balancing ability improves [2,3]. However, most infants have to be brought to a sitting posture till the time they are eleven months old .
Babies who spend most of their time lying in their cot or crib without much physical activity develop this sitting milestone during their ninth month.
Allow sufficient tummy time: Being on the tummy for a longer time is essential for any motor development, be it rolling over, crawling or sitting. Allow your kid to stay on his stomach when he is awake so that his back, neck and head muscles get stronger, helping him to push himself up and come to a sitting position.
Make him practice: Bring your baby to a sitting position either by placing him on your lap or letting him incline his back on some pillows (preferably a nursing pillow) and cushions. You can also help your child sit with ease by putting his legs apart in a V-shaped posture so that he may be able to balance and stabilize his movements without falling on the other side. Repeat this exercise several times a day so that his muscles get used to the movement, helping him to do the action in a smooth way [1, 5].
Use sitting apparatus: Make your baby’s experience of learning to sit more entertaining and interesting by introducing certain apparatus like a floor seat or a baby chair after he is proficient in getting into a sitting position. However, using such apparatus too often is not recommended as it supports the kid from all sides not allowing him to do any balancing on his own, thereby slowing his muscular development . While taking your six or seven-month-old baby out, use a stroller rather than carrying him.
Providing toys to help baby sit up: When encouraging your baby to sit or helping him master his balancing skill, you can hang attractive toys above his play mat or crib or bring the toy near him and gradually raise it to the level of his eyes. This gesture will make your baby move his body up, balancing himself using his arms to catch the toy [1, 4]. Keeping a toy near his feet when he is in a sitting posture helps in improving his sense of balance as he will bend himself to pick up the toy and play with it while sitting.
Teach him with his reflection: A smart and creative way to teach him to sit from a lying position is by placing a hand mirror at a height. As babies love looking at their reflection, your kid will get amused to see his own image at the other end, therefore raising his head to grab at it.
It is safe to get a rear-facing car seat for your baby if he is below two years of age. In a study cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, children under two years of age have lesser probability of getting hurt in road accidents if seated in a rear-facing car seat . It is advisable to make them sit in forward-facing car seats when they have advanced motor movements and can sit unassisted with ease .
Babies vary from one another in reaching any developmental milestone. However, if your baby does not make any attempt to sit up by the ninth month or has delayed motor movements, then bring the matter to the notice of your pediatrician.
Published on April 27th 2015 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 24th September 2015.