Motor Milestones: Learning to sit independently

Watching your baby begin to develop independence can be exhilarating. Your baby enjoys this process too since he is able to explore with a different perspective the world that surrounds him.

One way your baby begins to gain independence is learning to sit on his own, but this does not happen overnight. First, a series of steps and motor skills are required for him to master this milestone.

Being able to sit upright means your baby’s neck and back muscles are strong enough to carry their weight in an upright position and he has gained control of his head.

According to Pediatrician Melissa Goldstein M.D. a baby’s development starts from the head down. At 4 months old babies are able to sit down with support from a caretaker or furniture. By 5-6 months old most can sit by themselves in a tripod position in which they position their hands on the floor in front of themselves for reinforcement. At 7 months old they will probably sit on their own for some seconds with no support and free hands to explore and grab objects around themselves. At this point they might even be able to sit up from lying down on their tummy by pushing themselves up from the surface with their hands. Finally, by the age of 8 or 9 months they are likely to sit steadily on their own for some time.

Sitting independently is a big milestone for babies, and the development of this skill can occur at different rates. Some may sit up quite quickly and others may take a little more time but here are some tips that can help your little one develop this skill.

  • Prep your baby for successful sitting by making sure he lies on his tummy and strengthens his muscles by moving and stretching before turning 4 months old.
  • Lay your baby face down showing him a toy that he finds interesting and motivate him to come up or reach for it.
  • When you see his muscles are strong enough, sit your baby in a supportive chair making sure you are supervising him or sit him on your lap where you know he will be safe and play with him.
  • When your baby is ready he will be able to sit on his own for a few seconds. When this occurs sit him on the floor and provide pillows nearby for cushioning just in case he tumbles over. You can also place toys in front of him so he is free to explore and have fun!

Don’t be surprised if your baby who has mastered the ability of sitting falls over. Babies sometimes lose interest in being upright or get distracted and let their body go. Remember that every baby’s development is different; so don’t be alarmed if your baby takes a bit longer to master this skill. Practice the previous tips frequently but in short periods of time so your baby does not get stressed out or frustrated. Make sure his muscles are strengthened and remember to always practice on the floor to prevent high falls.


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