When can a baby sit up?

Throughout the growth of our little one, many questions arise; one of them is about the baby’s movements. How to hold them or when babies can sit are the most frequent doubts.

As they grow, the motor skills of our little ones mature; they acquire skills. They start with slight movements such as turning their heads, and then they can sit up, crawl, and walk.

Dr. Sydney Greenawalt, a pediatrician who graduated from the National Institute of Pediatrics, explains that when it comes to the development of children, we speak of developmental milestones, which means that for an action to happen, an antecedent is required, that is, for a child to be able to sit down, he must first have held his head up, if he doesn’t, he can’t sit down. If he doesn’t sit down, he won’t walk.

“The movements must be progressive. It is essential to know that no child is lazy or spoiled. If a child does not make any movement, something is wrong; for example, he is not stimulated. If so, the doctor should tell the mother what to do, and if there is no change in three weeks, then there is a problem, and it should be evaluated”.

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The movement of the little ones is progressive. Photo: Shutterstock
The movement of the little ones is progressive. Photo: Shutterstock

Baby movements

The first months of life are crucial for motor development. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that newborns can move their heads to one side; they do this as a reflex to seek the mother’s breast to feed; they can’t support their neck, so they need help to keep it up.

The institution explains that, by the second month, the baby’s nervous system is more mature, so he can lift his head when lying on his stomach; he can also wave his arms when he is excited and can smile since, at this age, he can control the tension in his lips and not do it just for imitation.

By the third month, he can move much more: he stretches, he can roll over to lie on his back, he starts to grab things within his reach, and will try to make small jumps by holding his arms and lifting him as if he wants to bounce.

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As babies grow, they develop more movements. Photo: Shutterstock
As babies grow, they develop more movements. Photo: Shutterstock

Sitting age

After the first trimester of life, babies begin to master new movements. They can support their head and chest while lying on their stomachs; they begin to roll over and move their legs.

Between four and eight months, there is an increase in the strength of the neck and trunk muscles so babies can begin to sit with support. Your little one will learn to lean forward by stretching his arms to use them as a support point.

This will give your child the strength and self-confidence to be able to sit for a while, but he will still need some help getting into this position, says the organization Nemours Children’s Health.

The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) recommends placing your little one in front of a mirror to see and get to know his body; at the same time, play and talk to him in a sweet voice; in this way, you stimulate his movements.

Dr. Sydney Greenawalt explains that between 6 and 8 months, the little ones can stay seated; this process is called sitting.

“At eight months, a child can sit up. If he doesn’t sit down, watch out, that’s a red flag of development; you have to go to the doctor”.

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Help him move

To stimulate the baby’s movements, it is essential that you play together since play and learning go hand in hand; therefore, you should find a quiet place in the home to encourage him to move. The Mayo Clinic Foundation offers the following tips to help your little one get moving:

  • Talk to your little one: Describe what you see, what is in the house; your tone of voice and your expressions transmit ideas and emotions.
  • Change the position. Lay your baby on his stomach for a few minutes, and hold a toy or object that can attract his attention so that he raises her head. Try to sit him up and prop him up on pillows so he can support himself.
  • Simple toys: The colorful ones or those that make noise are preferred at this stage. Pick up a toy and move it slightly out of his reach to encourage him to stretch, crawl, or roll over.
  • Read aloud: By reading stories to him, you develop his language and thinking skills. He will try to imitate the sounds you make. Start with books that have large, colorful pictures.
  • Kisses and hugs: The signs of affection to your little one will give him a feeling of security, protection, and love.
  • Music: Playing lullabies or nursery rhymes will help him calm down, and it is a way to entertain your child.
With games, you can stimulate your little one's movements. Photo: Shutterstock
With games, you can stimulate your little one’s movements. Photo: Shutterstock

The support you give your little one at this stage is essential for his motor development. Which of these activities do you do with your baby?

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver

Spanish version: Here