Sitting Up

Make sure your top-heavy sitter doesn't fall backward.


Looking forward to the time when your baby can sit up and take in the sights like a big person? Here's what to expect:

4 Months: Most babies can be placed in a supported sitting position for a short time, says Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita in the Child and Family Studies program at Syracuse University. "As long as she has firm head control, your baby is ready to sit in a safe place, propped up by pillows," she says.

5 Months: She may be able to sit by herself briefly, though you'll see her start to droop forward after a minute or two.

7 or 8 Months: The baby should sit up straight by herself. If your baby doesn't meet these milestones just so, don't panic. "The windows of development for gross motor skills, such as sitting up, are much wider than for fine motor skills—such as picking up a Cheerio with her thumb and forefinger," Honig explains.

In general, there's no need to sweat it until a baby is 9 months old, adds Steven P. Shelov, M.D., editor of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child (American Academy of Pediatrics). "If your child isn't sitting at all by then, have her evaluated by your pediatrician," he recommends.

Giving her plenty of tummy time can help your baby develop the neck and back strength she'll need to sit, as will offering her a safe place to experiment (try a big comforter on the floor). But don't push. "Sitting up will happen in its own time," Shelov says. "So relax, and enjoy the milestone when it happens."