As parents, we are always excited to witness our baby’s milestones – the first time he smiles, the first time he crawls, sits and eventually walks. But what if your child is stalled and he’s not able to sit on his own yet? When can baby sit up on his own anyway, and when should you worry if baby is not yet sitting up?
We have so many questions surrounding this milestone. Luckily, we were able to talk to a developmental paediatrician about this topic.
When can baby sit up on his own
Most babies develop the ability to sit by their 6th month. But his sitting may not be as stable yet and he would need some support – either from mummy or with the help of some baby seat devices.
yBetween 4 to 9 months, your baby is gradually trying to work on this milestone. Before he is able to sit, he still needs to learn to control his head and neck muscles.
By 7 to 9 months, your baby usually makes his way to reaching the independent sitting milestone. This means that they are able to sit independently with little or no support.
You can tell if your child has mastered how to sit if he can do it without hesitation and if along with sitting, he also exhibits other gross motor skills like moving to a crawling position.
A reminder about development milestones
As your baby grows, you will notice how she develops. For each age and stage, your baby will learn to do something new and to move her body and limbs in a different way. For instance, newborns learn to do tummy time and support their neck after a couple of months. By 4 to 6 months, she learns how to do the “tripod sit.”
Babies are expected to learn how to sit up around 5 to 9 months. They also start crawling between 6 to 10 months. Afterwards, parents are already on the lookout for the first time baby stands and take his first step.
However, we need to remember that this timeline is not set in stone. Remember, babies develop at their own pace.
According to Dr Michiko Caruncho, a development paediatrician from Makati Medical Center, child development is not really a specific age or specific month. It is a range. Some babies are slow, and some babies are fast when it comes to reaching a physical milestone. That includes sitting.
Why you should work on tummy time first
To help your baby reach the sitting milestone at the recommended age range, he needs to develop and strengthen the muscles that help with this skill. One way to help your infant to do this is through tummy time.
This form of baby exercise helps prevent plagiocephaly, a condition wherein one side of the infant’s head is abnormally flattened or misshapen.
According to Dr Caruncho, tummy time is very important during your baby’s first few days, weeks and months because it strengthens a lot of the muscles needed for sitting and other movements – the baby’s neck, the muscles in the arm, their core and shoulders.
Moreover, it trains your baby to support his weight when it’s time to crawl or roll over. Ideally, at 3 to 4 months, your baby should already be able to support his head. You can put him on your lap, lying on his tummy and you will notice that he is more stable and can move his head easily.
According to the paediatrician, it has been shown that babies who don’t get consistent tummy time is medyo delayed with their head control.
Tips to help baby sit on his own
Practise makes perfect. Giving baby lots of opportunity to work on sitting and strengthening his muscles can help him learn how to sit. Here are some ways you can try at home:
- Trial and error. Once your baby can already support his head and his arms (can roll over or do mini push ups), you can help him practise sitting with your support. Let him lie on his side first and watch him lift his body up.
- Give baby the floor. Put some of baby’s toys on the floor and let baby play (just make sure that it is clean and there are no choking hazards lying around).
- Sit on the floor and put baby in between your legs, your trunk supporting his body. You can read to him, sing nursery rhymes or play games while in this position. Let your partner help too! He can talk to baby while you have baby between your legs.
- Provide extra support. Once your baby learns to sit, try to prop him up with a pillow. A little padding on the floor or surrounding your baby can help too so that the baby will be safe in case he falls on his belly.
There’s nothing wrong with helping your baby learn how to sit, but make sure that he is physically ready to do it. How would you know?
According to Dr Caruncho, you’ll notice when you try to sit baby on your lap. When his back is still hunched, it means that his muscles is not yet strong enough, and maybe you need to stick to stay with tummy time and lying baby on his side for now.
Letting baby play on the floor during her active moments will help her learn to sit and crawl faster than if she is always left on her crib. The doctor also does not recommend the use of baby walkers as it can actually delay baby’s development and put her at risk for accidents.
What’s next after sitting?
Once your baby has learned how to sit, next on his milestones agenda is to learn how to crawl. Again, babies develop at their own pace and their own ways. Some babies learn how to stand before they can crawl. However, this is the normal development timeline after baby learns how to sit:
- Trying to stand up
- Holding onto furniture and cruising
- Taking his first step with support
- Walking on his own
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When to worry if baby is not sitting up
Aside from “When can baby learn how to sit up?” Parents also ask, “When should I worry if my child is not sitting up?”
According to Dr Caruncho, if your baby is not able to sit on her own by 8 to 9 months, that’s the time that you should consult with your pediatrician to have your baby assessed if there is a delay in her motor skills. Some of the warning signs include:
- Her muscles seem tight
- Baby is lethargic, does not have a lot of energy
- Only using one hand to reach for objects
- Head control is unstable
- Rarely puts her hand or objects in her mouth
Moreover, Dr Caruncho said that you should also look at possible causes for delay in motor development. Don’t just focus on one area. Also consider if your baby was born premature (preemies are usually a bit delayed in their motor skills).
If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s paediatrician.
Safety tips on teaching baby how to sit
If you’re keen on helping your baby reach this milestone, make sure that you’re doing it safely. Here are some things to remember when training your bub how to sit:
- Baby proof your home before you start. Cover the electrical outlets that your baby may reach as she explores.
- Put all hazardous items aside. Make sure that your baby cannot get her hands on any small items that may be choking hazards.
- When your baby has learned how to sit, adjust her crib so that it will be lower and she will still be secure even if she’s sitting down or standing up.
Image source: iStock
Translated with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.