How to help your baby sit up

Baby sitting up in cot

by Maeve Campbell |

When your baby learns to sit up on their own, it's a milestone worth remembering. What a difference it makes for your little one, who will have a whole new perspective on the world, and there are a few ways you can help your baby sit up using a few exercises.

The way you communicate and play will change, as he'll have his own sense of agency, with the newfound ability to support himself upright. It takes time, and every baby is different, but once his neck and back muscles are strong enough, and he's figured out how not to topple over, he'll be doing it on his own. Next thing you know he'll be crawling, standing and even walking.

What age do babies sit up?

Typically, babies learn to sit up on their own between the ages of 4 and 7 months.

Your baby will already have mastered rolling over and holding his head up at this stage. So, you can expect him to sit up for a couple of minutes without support, by the time he's 8 months old. After a couple of minutes, any baby is bound to topple over as they will lose interest in being upright. Babies develop at different rates for a multitude of reasons, so don't be tempted to compare yourself too much to friends' little ones - focus on your little angel and his own unique milestones instead.

How do babies learn to sit up?

Propping him against some cushions is perfectly feasible from below 4 months old, but unassisted sitting can't begin until he's mastered head control. Then, at 4 months old, your baby's neck and head muscles will begin strengthening rapidly.

  • First, he'll first learn to raise his head while lying on his stomach.

  • After that, he'll be figuring out how to prop himself up on his arms and hold his chest off the floor, like a sort of baby push-up.

  • Gradually, over the next 3 months, he may be able to sit for a matter of seconds without assistance, but you should surround him with pillows at this point in case he topples.

  • Eventually, he'll be sitting upright on his own, by about 8 months.

How can I help my baby sit up?

While all babies will sit up at their own pace, there are a few exercises you can do to help your tot along the way. Your first job is to encourage him to start raising his head, while he's face down on his tummy. Play a game where you get down on his level and then prompt him to mirror you and look up to the sky. This will help strengthen his neck muscles and develop head control, which is key for sitting up.

Using a bright toy that makes a noise, or a mirror is also a good way to make sure that his hearing and vision are on the right track. Once he becomes a fairly confident sitter, you can place toys and objects just out of reach, to hold his attention as he learns to balance using his arms.

What do I do if my baby doesn't sit up?

If your baby isn't able to hold his head up steadily by the time he's about 4 months old and hasn't started learning to prop himself up on his arms soon after, or is unable to sit unsupported by 9 months, it's probably wise to check in with his doctor. If there is an issue with head control, it's worth addressing now, as this will form the foundations for crawling, standing and eventually walking.

Something to keep in mind - premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than full-term babies.

So what's next?

Your little one is much more autonomous now that he can sit up, so he'll be experimenting with lunging forward pretty soon. This movement could happen as early as 6 or 7 months and he could be fully crawling by 10 months. To make sure you're prepared for this possibility, it's important to consider child-proofing the house as soon as possible.

Something to bear in mind is that paediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is sitting with minimal support before starting him on solid foods.

Find out more about when babies stand.

Seats to help baby sit up

If you think your baby might be struggling to get the hang of sitting up by themselves, a chair or floor seat could be a useful tool. These seats sit on the floor, and they're a great place to sit your baby safely while supporting their back. Many of them also include fun toys to make sitting a rather fun experience for you baby. These seats will help your little one get used to sitting in that position without the risk of them toppling over.

We've rounded up three of the best that might be just what you're looking for.

Bumbo Hemlock Floor Seat

bumbo-seat

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This is a really popular floor seat amongst parents and it's suitable for babies who can support their own heads from aged 4 months +. It should only be used on the floor as it won't balance anywhere else!

Infantino Music & Lights 3-in-1 Discovery Seat and Booster

infantino booster seat
Amazon

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In the market for something a bit more fun? This booster has all the bells and whistles to keep your little one entertained while they're practising their seated position, making it a great sensory experience.

Nuby Sit-Me-Up Baby Seat

cushioned seat
Amazon

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Here's an option that's a bit softer for your baby making it almost like a structured pillow seat. The inside is inflatable so you can easily take it with you on your travels.

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