When Will My Baby Learn to Sit Up?

Baby sitting on a blanket

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Babies seem so helpless at birth, but as the weeks pass, it's hard to believe how much they learn and develop in such a short period. In about a year's time, the newborn that needed to be held with their head and neck supported will become a walking, talking toddler. It's pretty amazing!

During the early months of life, your baby will learn to hold their head up and spend a lot of time in a sphinx-like position. And while there's not much cuter than a wide-eyed baby pushing themselves up to take the world in, you might wonder when your baby will learn to sit up. It's coming sooner than you think—babies usually start sitting unsupported somewhere around 7 to 9 months old.

Why Sitting Up Is Important for Babies

Sitting up is an exciting developmental milestone. Gross motor skills build upon one another, allowing for the next milestones to happen. Sitting upright and unsupported is a crucial step in eventually learning to walk.

There are other benefits to sitting as well. Babies need to be able to sit up unsupported to safely start eating solid foods. And when a baby can rest in this new position, their hands are free to explore objects and learn about the world.

Babies typically sit up unassisted by around 7 to 9 months old. All babies are different, so there is some variation as to exactly when each baby will learn to sit up. "Some babies will sit unsupported as early as 4 months," notes Verywell Family Review Board member Alisa Baer, MD, a board-certified pediatrician and cofounder of The Car Seat Lady.

Your baby will learn to sit before learning to crawl, but it is also possible for babies to bypass crawling completely, while remaining on track developmentally. "The muscle control and motor skills required for crawling are more advanced than those required for sitting," explains Dr. Baer. "But, many babies are skipping the crawling stage and going from sitting to walking for reasons we aren’t completely sure about."

Signs Baby May Be Ready to Sit Up

When your baby has met other milestones, sitting up may be right around the corner. Prior to learning to sit, your baby will need to have good head control and learn to push themselves up, and rollover.

To truly master sitting up, babies should be able to get themselves into the position from lying down, and they should not require the support of pillows or other objects.

If your baby rests upright when you position them in a tripod sit, they will likely be able to sit independently soon, notes Verywell Family Review Board member Lindsey Garbi, MD, a double board-certified pediatrician, neonatologist, and an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "If placed in the seated position too early, they are likely to fall over because they lack the muscle strength to hold themselves up."

How to Help Baby Sit Up

Since each gross motor milestone builds upon the one before it, providing ongoing opportunities for your baby to develop core strength is the best way to help them on their way to sitting.

Staring in the early weeks of life, you can place your baby on their stomach for short periods of tummy time. Doing tummy time regularly and for increasing lengths of time will help your baby develop the core and neck strength strength needed to eventually sit unsupported.

Once your baby can hold their head up without support (often around 3 months), Dr. Baer suggests sitting the baby on your lap facing you and then rocking slowly back and forth while encouraging the baby to keep their upper body aligned with their lower body.

As your baby gets closer to being able to sit independently you can try putting them in a tripod position. To to this, sit them on their bottom with their feet together. Let the baby's torso lean slightly forward so that their hands reach the floor, supporting them.

When to Be Concerned

All babies are different. Some may sit as early as 4 months while other may take until 9 months or longer to meet this milestone. If your baby is not sitting independently by 9 months, let your pediatrician know. "This should prompt a referral to early intervention," notes Dr. Baer.

If your baby seems more floppy or more stiff than you’d expect, this is also something to mention to the pediatrician. "Low muscle tone (floppiness) and high muscle tone (stiffness) can both affect the baby’s ability to reach their milestones like holding their head up, sitting, crawling, or walking," explains Dr. Baer.

Safety Considerations

When babies first begin to sit independently, they are still apt to lose their balance and topple now and then. They are top heavy, so they may likely fall head first when they do fall. "If practicing sitting on a hard floor, be sure an adult is nearby to catch the baby if they start to topple," advises Dr. Baer. "You can also put cushions around the baby or practice on a softer surface, like a carpet or foam mat."

Babies should only practice sitting on the floor. The one exception is sitting your baby in a space that is specifically designed for a baby to sit in. If you use a high chair, baby seat, or another sitting device, strap them in properly. "Head injuries from babies falling off elevated surfaces like a countertop or coffee table are very common in this age group," notes Dr. Baer. "We also see babies falling from devices when the straps aren’t used as they should be."

The Importance of Babyproofing

Once your baby learns to sit up unsupported, you don't have long until they become mobile. Whether cruising or crawling, a mobile baby can easily get into dangerous situations. Get prepared by babyproofing soon after your baby starts sitting.

"Watch for sharp corners or things on a ledge that can be reached and pulled over," says Dr. Garbi. "Also cover or remove outlets, sharp objects, or small things that can be put in the mouth."

Securing large furniture and TVs is a very important part of babyproofing that may even save your child's life. "Tip-overs are a very preventable source of serious injury and death for kids in the toddler stage," emphasizes Dr. Baer.

A Word From Verywell

Sitting is an important developmental milestone for your baby. Gross motor skills build in a continuum, so learning to sit will eventually lead to learn learning to walk, run, and jump.

Babies usually learn to sit unsupported by 7 to 9 months of age. You can support your baby in learning to sit by offering tummy time and providing plenty of time for them to explore every day.

If your baby does not sit unsupported by 9 months, or if you have any concerns about your baby's development, reach out to your pediatrician.

11 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Movement Milestones: Babies 4 to 7 Months. American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated March 2021.

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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.