Baby Milestone: Sitting

August 7, 2018

Your baby is ready to sit up once he develops neck and trunk strength. To see if he’s ready, try this when your baby is lying on his back: Gently pull him up by the hands into a sitting position. If his head doesn’t flop back, he may be on his way. A soon-to-be sitter will also hold his head steady and look around when held or during tummy time. Here are some ways to encourage sitting, as well as what to expect as your little one develops.

Give your baby a boost.
Prop her up on a carpeted floor with a Boppy pillow surrounding her. Or sit behind her so she can lean on you. She may “tripod” at first, leaning forward on her arms for balance.

Show him what’s coming.
“Sitting your guy on your lap while holding his arms allows him the sensation and experience of this new posture,” says Nerissa Bauer, M.D., an assistant professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

Change it up.
When she’s awake, switch her position often—from back to tummy, from your arms to the floor. (Only do tummy time when she’s awake and supervised.)

Give him a gear makeover.
Bye-bye, bouncy seat. Once they can sit, babies prefer being upright, Bauer says. Give him assistance with a baby chair that helps him stay upright or a stationary exerciser that works his leg muscles. The toys on top will also develop his fine motor skills. Just don’t overdo it: keep him in it only while he’s actively engaged, Bauer adds.

Expect a drive to explore.
“All of a sudden a baby can see things farther away and higher up,” says Carol Cohen Weitzman, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Connecticut. “This is where the drive to move starts to really kick into gear.”

Look forward to these next steps.
Once she masters sitting, Baby can grab toys with both hands at the same time. She will
also soon perfect the pincer grasp—using the thumb and forefinger to pick up finger foods as well as small objects.

Know there’s a wide range of normal.
There’s a wide window of what’s normal for all milestones, so odds are that your baby will sit up just fine, says Weitzman. Talk to your pediatrician, though, if your full-term baby’s head still flops back when you prop him into a sitting position at 6 months, or if he can’t get into a sitting position or sit up independently after 9 months. For a preemie, the range is based on your due date, so a baby born at 28 weeks might sit about three months later.

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