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

One way your baby begins to gain independence is learning to sit on her own, but this does not happen overnight. First, a series of steps and motor skills are required for her 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 she has gained control of her head.

According to Pediatrician Melissa Goldstein M.D., a baby’s development starts from the head down. At 4 months, babies are able to sit down with support from a caretaker or furniture. By 5-6 months, 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, they will probably sit on their own for a few 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 when they’re lying down on their tummy and push 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 a few minutes.

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, while others may take a little more time. Here are some tips that can help your little one develop this skill.

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

Don’t be surprised if your baby masters the ability of sitting and then falls over. Babies sometimes lose interest in being upright or get distracted and let their body go. Remember that every child’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 her muscles are strengthened and remember to always practice on the floor to prevent high falls.

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