baby sitting up with a toki mats support pillow

Helping Your Baby Learn to Sit

June 10, 2024

There are so many milestones in the first year of parenthood, and while each one is just as exciting as the last, the day your baby learns to sit without assistance marks a huge turning point. For the first 6 months or so, your baby mostly experiences the world either from your arms or from a lying down position. Although they can sit up with your help starting around 4 to 5 months old, learning to sit independently opens up a whole new world of learning and prepares the way for crawling, walking, and other gross motor milestones! It also marks a new stage of independence for your baby, and you may find that once your little one is sitting well without any assistance, they’re more content to play on their own and you won’t feel the need to constantly hover in case they fall. Here are all the tips to help your baby learn to sit unassisted:

Plenty of floor time

Now that your baby is outgrowing all their baby containers, like a swing, jumper, bouncer, etc., all of their awake time should be spent doing floor play! Even if they hated tummy time when they were younger, they’re probably much more tolerant of it now that they’ve built plenty of strength in their upper body. When babies are learning to sit on their own, one important milestone is transitioning from tummy to sitting, and they accomplish this by rotating their hips, lifting one hip off the floor, and walking their arms in to push their body up into a sitting position. All that rolling and pushing up during tummy time helps build up their core strength to be able to do this, so keep offering plenty of floor play and use toys to motivate your little one to move their body.

Practice tripod sitting

Before your baby can sit upright without any support, they’ll first begin sitting in a tripod position, which is also called “prop sitting” because they lean forward on their hands. When you move your baby into a sitting position, position their legs in an open ring with their knees pointing toward the sides and the feet several inches apart. Position your baby’s arms in front, within the open “ring” of their legs, so that they’re leaning slightly forward and propped up on their arms. They may be a bit wobbly at first, but that’s okay! The wobbling helps develop their balance, which is an important step in learning to sit. As they get better and better at tripod sitting, your baby might practice removing one hand (then both!) to reach for a toy, and eventually build the strength to sit without their hands for support at all.

Work on balance

While it can be harrowing to watch your baby take a tumble here and there, falling is an inevitable part of their gross motor development. Until they hone their balance, padding their falls with a super soft play mat or a support pillow behind them as they sit is a great way to prevent injuries while they work on this new skill. To help your little one work on their balance, try sitting them on your lap and use your hands to tilt their entire body left, right, forward, and backward. You should feel your baby actively resisting the movements to maintain the upright position, and this can help teach them balance reactions (to stop falls when they’re sitting independently) and also strengthen their core. 

Use toys!

Dangling toys in front of your baby is a great way to get them to use their trunk muscles as they twist, turn, and reach for them. All that movement helps them learn to stabilize and demonstrate protective reactions when they lose their balance. Activity cubes, sit-to-stand walkers, or musical toys can also motivate your baby to stay upright.

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Helping Your Baby Learn to Sit

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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