There are plenty of milestones to record in your new baby’s life as through a process of trial and error they challenge their little bodies and minds to undergo what seem like new and amazing feats on a daily basis.
Sitting up unassisted is just one of those and signals both to the world and to the baby the start of a new adventure and perspective on life. Sitting upright independently unveils a world of new visual and sensory delights as your baby sees things from a vertical perspective for the first time.
Before a baby can sit unassisted their back and neck muscles need to be strong enough to hold them up. Not just that, but baby also needs to have figured out how to position their legs so that they won’t just tumble over like a little Humpty Dumpty.
You know what’s coming next as the adventurous spirit really kicks in; it’s literally just a matter then of time before the crawling, experimenting with standing, and ultimately toddling around on their own begins – then watch out world!
So at what age can you expect this activity to all begin happening? Well as with all things in a baby’s early development, that will be down to their own unique and individual strength, physicality and also personality and determination. Rolling over is frustrating, toppling over on a regular basis is an even more painful reminder that you need to get on with the serious business of sitting unassisted.
In most instances, your baby should learn to sit independently somewhere between 4 and 7 months with almost all babies being able to sit upright for at least a good few minutes by the time they are 8 months old.
In order to achieve this miraculous feat, your baby will have first experimented with and managed to master two key elements – finally holding their own head up rather than being cradled by an attentive parent, combined with the joy and freedom of rolling around.
Almost from day one you will have no doubt propped your baby into a seated position at some point, but it’s not until a baby’s neck muscles really start to strengthen at around the 4 month point that they learn now to raise and hold up their head, a vital first stage in the journey towards sitting unassisted.
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What comes next is the Herculean equivalent of a grownup pushup, and we all know how difficult those can be to master. Baby is now around 5 months old and has totally nailed pushing up their chest off the ground. The fun is about to start and now might be a good time to get the extra cushions of your sofa and scatter them around the floor ready to break any unsteady landings.
All this experimenting is fabulous for parents to witness as baby just seems to develop more and more on a daily basis. Soon baby will have figured out that they can use their arms to help balance them in a forwards leaning position.
By 7 months, with what looks like daily baby workouts (all those pushups and pullups being like a gym circuit) baby should be able to sit upright, fully unassisted and without the need of arms as balancing sticks. With the arms now free to fully explore their new and exciting perspective on life, watch out for objects (especially food) being thrown around in sheer abandonment and delight.
There are a couple of things that you can be doing as a parent to help your baby develop their independent seated skills. As already mentioned, it’s primarily down to neck strength and confidence, so it’s a good idea to let you baby play face down on their front as this will naturally encourage them to look upwards, advancing the control and strength of the neck muscles.
Use brightly colored and interesting toys to stimulate interest and awareness. Babies are naturally inquisitive and love to reach out and touch things. By placing lots of shiny bright objects around your baby, this will encourage them to reach out and explore from their new seated position as they experiment with sitting up.
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Please don’t forget that babies skills are individual; they all develop at different rates and if your baby is slower or quicker to get to grips with sitting unassisted, that is totally natural. Your baby might take a little longer to develop their neck strength but might be out of the blocks quickly when it comes to walking.
As a general rule of thumb though, baby should be propping themselves up by 4 months and sitting unassisted by 8 months. If none of these things remotely look like they are happening, a quick check up at the doctor’s should put your mind at rest. By now your baby is getting incredibly mobile and very curious so get yourself prepared as the fun is really about to start for both baby and you!