10 Ways To Support A Baby Sitting Up And 3 Precautions To Take

Written by Rohit Garoo Experience: 9 years
Last Updated on

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Travel back a few months into the past. Your baby wouldn’t move unless you helped her. She wouldn’t keep her head straight, nor have a strong back. But now, the little one is even attempting to sit without support! While she tries to reach this milestone, as a parent you can help attune her body to the new development.

MomJunction shares with you a complete guide on how you can teach your baby to sit.

When Do Babies Sit Up?

Babies can hold their head unsupported and roll on their tummy at the age of four months (1). This capability paves the way for the muscles to develop ample strength to lift the body and make your baby sit. By the time she reaches the age of six months, she should be able to hold her body in a sitting position (2). Some babies may do it in the later months, and it is quite normal.

Moving towards the milestone:

3-4 months: Your baby’s muscles are supple but are developing the strength to support her neck. She will raise her neck while on the tummy and push the elbows down to the ground to lift the body. These simple movements are the stepping stones to make muscles strong enough for her to sit.

5-6 months: Your little one will now have enough strength to push her body high enough from the surface to be able to sit on her own. She is not perfect though since her muscles hold the sitting position only for some time. She may lean forward while sitting and place her hands down for support, thus forming the tripod position. It will help the baby hold the body in the sitting position for a longer duration without causing her to fall forward.

7-9 months: By the time she is seven months old, she can sit upright on her own. Her neck and back muscles are stronger. This is the time you can place her in a high chair to feed her. Her development still continues, and once she is nine months old, she will be able to push herself to the sitting position from the lying down position without support (3). She will switch positions and turn and twist while sitting to reach an object.

Your baby will perfect at sitting once she completes one year of her life (4). You will not have to support her when she tries to make an effort to sit. By this age, her muscles are developed enough to walk. Therefore, sitting should come effortlessly.

Do Babies Crawl Or Sit First?

Your baby will learn to sit by the sixth month of her life while she may begin to crawl by the ninth month (5). Sitting and tummy time pave way for crawling since they strengthen your baby’s muscles to push her body weight.

[ Read: How To Teach Your Baby To Crawl ]

How To Teach The Baby To Sit Up

Your baby will be able to sit on her own only after her muscles support her to do so. Therefore, you cannot teach a baby to sit up before the developmental period. However, you can accustom her muscles to the position so that sitting comes more easily when her body is ready for it.

Here are tips to encourage your baby to attempt the sitting position with more ease.

1. Encourage tummy time and exploration:

The first step towards a perfect sitting posture starts from the ability to hold the head steady. The best way to achieve this is by strengthening her neck and back muscles during tummy time. Place your baby face down on her belly and put her favorite toys in front of her. Encourage her to look at these toys by slightly lifting the head on her own. Once she learns to sit, repeat the activity. This will help her learn to support and shift her body weight around while sitting. Hide her toys and make her follow them with her eyes, while she is on her tummy. This will make her lift her body.

2. Move the baby yourself:

One way to acquaint the baby with the movement is to do that for her by moving her through the different positions

Hold the baby and roll her gently while placed on a soft surface like a mattress. It will help the baby develop a sense of orientation to do the movement herself.

3. Have mock sitting:

Once your baby is in the sixth month, you can teach her to sit through mock sitting sessions. The best way to do this is by using your body as a backrest for your little one. Sit down on a bed or soft rug and place your baby’s favorite toys in front of her. Make her sit securely in your lap by resting her back on you and let her play with her toys. It will strengthen the back muscles and accustom the baby to the feeling of sitting.

4. Use her curiosity as a tool:

By ninth month, she will be able to get into a sitting position. Now it is time to encourage her to stay in that position as much as possible. Place the objects of interest within her arm’s reach in a way she can access them while sitting. You can also sit next to your baby and play the basic passing-the-ball game with her.

5. Focus on strengthening her muscles:

Any movement of the body involves the use of muscles. Stronger muscles mean your baby is more likely to learn sitting faster. Massage her regularly and use basic active games to strengthen her muscles. Additionally, activities like crawling, rolling and tummy time are all natural means of making the baby’s muscles strong. Encourage her to indulge in them as much as possible so that he can learn sitting sooner and better.

[ Read: When Do Babies Roll Over ]

Exercises And Activities To Help Baby Sit Up

Here are some simple yet wonderful games and activities that you can use to teach your baby to sit better:

1. Find the rattle

Age for playing: Four months

Activity: A simple tummy time activity. Place your baby on her tummy and bring a rattling toy within her field of vision. Once she moves her head towards the direction of the sound, move the rattle a little backward so that she has to twist her back a bit to move her head.

Benefits: Works on her neck muscles, obliques and lower back muscles. She may use her arms to move her body thus also using her shoulder muscles in the process.

2. Assisted crunches

Age for playing: Four months old (when she can support her head)

Activity: Place your baby on your legs with her feet facing towards you. Hold her arms and gently pull her up and down in a movement that resembles abdominal crunches. Be sure you move her up and down very gently. To add some rhythm to the activity, say a rhyme while lifting her.

Benefits: The activity will work on lower back and abdomen muscles that are needed to help her learn to sit.

3. Roll over

Age to play: Six months

Activity: Place your baby on her back. Bring a toy in front of her and slowly move it to her side in a way that she can maintain her gaze. Once it moves to the side, prompt her to reach out for it. By this age, most babies can roll over. Therefore, she will attempt to roll over to have a better view of the object. When she does so, encourage her. Repeat the activity regularly, especially when he is alert and playful.

Benefits: Strengthens back and oblique muscles that will help her assume the sitting position faster.

4. Bicycling

Age to play: Six months

Activity: Make your baby lie on a soft surface. Once is comfortably lying down hold her legs gently and raise them up. Slowly start moving them in a pedaling cycle action. Make some funny sounds and noises to keep your little one interested. Give a break of few seconds after five cycling actions.

Benefits: Strengthens lower back muscles.

5. Assisted squats

Age to play: Eight months

Activity: Place your baby in sitting position. Hold her hands and gently lift her up to the standing position. Repeat it three to four times and then give a few seconds break before resuming the activity.

Benefits: Makes the back, abdomen and thigh muscles stronger. By eight months, babies can sit independently and make their first attempts to stand.

Caution: Your baby’s body is delicate. Take up these activities only if you are sure that you are not hurting her. Do not overdo them. Also, you need to take precautions for the safety of your baby.

[ Read: When Do Babies Walk ]

Precautions To Take When Helping Your Baby Sit

You would definitely be excited to teach your baby how to sit but keep in mind some precautions:

1. Respect the baby’s natural developmental process:

You would never feed solid food to your baby before she attains a certain age. The same way you should never force your baby to sit before she reaches an appropriate developmental milestone in her life. Like we mentioned earlier, babies learn to roll on their tummies by the age of four months, and any chance of sitting will arise only after this point in her life. Moreover, her body is best suited to sit only after she completes six months. Therefore, goading her to sit before this age will yield unsatisfactory results, and also harm her development.

2. Do not use bumbos, exersaucers or cushions:

Bumbos are plastic molds with a carved seat at its center. Its purpose is to help prop your baby in the sitting position and make her stay that way for a longer duration. Exersaucers look similar to walkers but are stationary. They may or may not have an elastic band seat, called as jumper.

[Read : Mee Mee Baby Walker]

Bumbos and exersaucers do not provide any incremental benefit to the baby. In fact, they may be harmful to her. Bumbos put the baby in an uncomfortable sitting position that can strain the baby’s back and hamper her development. Bumbos are also a safety hazard since there have been cases of babies toppling over while seated in it (6).

Pediatric physical therapists oppose the use of exersaucers as they can lead to poor posture and in severe cases physical deformities (7). Cushions and pillows are again support items that prop the baby at one place and restrict exploration. As mentioned in the previous point, it is always good to respect the baby’s natural development and let her learn to sit naturally. The good old floor is the best place for her to learn sitting.

3. Always be on the watch:

Babies are not adept at sitting until they complete a couple of years in their life. This means even after she begins sitting independently, you must be careful that she does not topple and injure herself. Always keep a watchful eye and baby-proof your house for added safety.

Sitting in W-position: You should be watchful about not only the hazards but also her sitting posture. W-position is one such sitting style that may harm your baby’s physical development. It is usually found in babies older than 11 months. In a W-position, the baby’s bottom will touch the floor while she will fan out her legs outward to form a W. This innocent-looking seating position is actually detrimental to your baby’s healthy physical development. Long term W-sitting can cause muscle tightness, hip strain and stress on joints (8). If you spot your infant doing so, adjust her legs into a cross-leg position or Q position, where legs are placed on one side.

What If The Baby Does Not Sit?

Some babies could be slow in their development but what if your baby shows zero ability to sit even after nine months? Keep these things in mind:

  • If your baby is premature, then she will be naturally slow in her growth and development (9). She may miss the mark on developmental milestones and achieve them later when compared to babies born after natural gestation term.
  • Babies who acquire serious infections or diseases early in their life are bound to have slow development (10). This could delay their ability to display physical skills such as rolling, crawling and sitting. If your baby is now completely free of the disease, she will be on course with her development albeit slowly.

[ Read : When Do Babies Start Talking ]

Physical Development Red Flags To Notice

If your baby is neither premature nor suffered from a serious bout of infection but is still unable to sit, then you must first look for other physical development red flags like the following:

  • The baby displays an inability to lift her head when placed on her belly after attaining five months of age. Her face simply slams down, and she does not seem to move it upward.
  • She is unable to roll even after completing six months. Needs support even for basic movements.
  • Does not crawl after nine months.
  • Unable to crawl and stand with support after completing one year of her life.
  • Does not walk or run after completing 18 months.

Consult A Pediatrician

If your baby shows the above symptoms, consult a pediatrician. Usually, the inability to sit is accompanied by other developmental issues that can be best interpreted by a medical practitioner. It is always good to maintain a log of your baby’s developmental milestones and discuss it with your pediatrician periodically.

Remember, an inability to sit should not create panic or alarm you as long as your baby is meeting the other milestones of her age. Do not be in a hurry, do not force her to sit. If not in this month, she would sit in the subsequent months.

How did you teach your baby to sit? Or did she do it by herself? Share your experience by leaving a comment with us below.

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Rohit Garoo is a writer-turned-editor with over 9 years of experience in content writing, editing, and content marketing. He did his bachelors in Science at St. Xavier's College, Hyderabad, and masters in Business Administration at Osmania University.

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