We mothers are all guilty of wanting our babies to achieve milestones faster, aren’t we? Be it rolling, reaching for a toy, smiling, turning his head on your voice, or sitting up, every developmental milestone is precious to us parents and holds a special place in our hearts. Watching our babies getting stronger and enjoying their independence is the most relieving part of parenthood.
I remember when my baby turned 4 months, all I could think about was how to help him sit up on his own. I knew sitting up involved developing muscles in his back, neck, tummy, and legs, so I started looking up for activities, positions, pieces of equipment, and exercises that could help my baby develop these muscles faster. I figured that all my fellow mommies would want to know this secret as well. So, here’s everything you can do to help your baby develop those muscles faster.
Sitting independently is normally a 6-month milestone for babies, but some babies might achieve this earlier than others. This milestone also depends on the type of personality your baby has – does he like to move around and explore, or does he like to sit and observe? Babies that spend more tummy time or like to roll around a lot can develop the muscle strength needed to sit up quickly. Sitting is a great skill, as it allows the baby to explore his surroundings and body more freely and independently. To help your baby strengthen his neck and back muscles, allow him a lot of tummy time to build stronger muscles in the neck, back, and abdominals, help him practice sitting on hard and flat surfaces, let him spend more time out of baby gear to allow him to build muscle strength from gravity, and surround your baby with pillows during his early tries on sitting up freely to avoid any mishaps. Aside from these tips, several positions can help your baby get used to sitting up, like ring sitting. In the ring sitting position, the baby’s hands are placed on the ground to help them find stability while sitting. Holding your baby in an upright position, like over the shoulder or your lap, helps increase their trunk and abdominal muscle strength. A great baby gear that supports your baby to sit right up is a boppy. It supports the baby’s hips and holds them up while the baby’s abdominal and back extensor muscles do the work. Lastly, to help your baby strengthen his trunk and neck muscles, you can do activities, like hanging toys above for the baby to reach out to and pull your baby up to a seated position while lying on a flat surface. These tips and activities will surely get your baby ready to sit right up without support.
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When are babies able to sit up typically?
The first few months for your baby are critical, for that’s the time when their precursor skills evolve. Skills like holding head up, pushing up on forearms during tummy time, and reaching for the feet, play a great role in building the muscle strength that babies need to achieve milestones like sitting up and walking.
Normally babies start learning to sit up around the age of 4-7 months. Your baby might not develop their balance at that point and will probably fall when reaching for something. By the time your baby turns 8 months, he should sit and balance well without any support. Most babies can sit and stay well balanced by the time they reach 9 months.
Why is it important for babies to sit up on their own?
Sitting up is a significant milestone and skill for babies, as it helps them get stronger and achieve other milestones in the future. Once babies learn to sit independently, they will be able to entertain themselves and be content alone for much longer.
Babies tend to feel much happier while sitting up, for they can use their hands and eyes more functionally to explore their surroundings and play. Once your baby learns to sit upright, he will be able to use both hands while playing with the toys, see across the room for familiar faces, and begin to digest his milk or formula better.
It’s a chief motor skill that all babies tend to develop around the same age, but some might need more help from their parents to get there than the rest, so be patient. Here are some tips, positions, and activities that you can perform to help your baby build the muscles and strength to sit independently.
Tips to help babies sit up on their own
There are a plethora of ways to help your baby develop the neck and trunk strength required to achieve this milestone and some of the bests are:
Allow your baby enough tummy time
Placing your baby on his tummy is the most effective way to strengthen his back (the extensors) and neck muscles. Here’s how tummy time helps your baby:
- When your baby lifts his head, he’s strengthening his neck extensors.
- When your baby lifts higher and props on his elbows and tries to grab a toy, he is not only strengthening the muscles around his shoulder but also his upper back extensors.
- When your baby pushes way up to prop on extended arms, he strengthens his back extensors all the way down to the hips.
Let your baby play while lying on his back
When the baby plays while lying on his back, he gets to strengthen the muscles that are in front of the body (the flexors). Here’s how lying on your back while playing helps your baby:
- When your baby lays on his back and tries to reach for the hanging toys, he strengthens his chest flexors and upper trunk flexors.
- When your baby tries to touch his feet while lying flat on his back or brings his feet to his mouth, he strengthens his abdominal muscles.
Practice on a hard, stable surface
Make sure to practice on flat, hard surfaces like hardwood, tile floor, foam mat, or carpet. Flat surfaces provide your baby with the support and stability that he needs to sit up on his own.
Flat surfaces make your baby’s trunk muscles work a lot harder so that they can sit on unstable surfaces in the future.
Avoid baby gears for too long
Baby gears, such as activity centers, bumbo seats, and jumpers are great ways to help your baby explore different positions, but they are not as helpful as they seem to be as they support the body and play no role in muscle strengthening. Make sure to keep your baby out of gear to allow him to build strength from gravity.
Provide support with cushions
Make sure to sit right next to your baby while they are learning to sit up independently. However, if you are thinking of decreasing the support, make sure to use boppy or cushions around your baby for safety.
Positions to improve your baby’s sitting
Here are some positions that you can use to help your baby achieve this milestone independently:
Make your baby sit in a ring sit position
If your baby is sitting upright, make sure to have them sit in a ring sit position by making their knees bent out to the sides and feet where they can be touched. This position gives them a wide base that helps support their upper body.
Teach them to use their own hands for stability
While having your baby sit in a ring sit position, help him use his own hands on the ground to provide stability. To do so, sit behind your baby and place your baby’s hands on the ground to help them learn to use their hands for balance.
Use a boppy
Boppies are a great way to provide your baby the support he needs while learning to sit on his own. A boppy provides enough support to the hips while still letting their abdominal and back extensor muscles do the work.
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Hold baby upright
Hold your baby upright over the shoulder or stand them on your lap to increase their trunk strength and abdominal muscle strength. You can lower your hands or decrease the support with time to challenge their muscles to work more.
Activities and exercises to improve sitting
Try the following specific activities and exercises to increase your baby’s trunk and neck strength for this milestone.
- Hang or hold toys in front of your baby and have them reach for them. As your baby gets older, increase the distance to further strengthen those ab muscles.
- Sit by the feet of your baby and grab his hands to pull your baby up to a seated position. This exercise can be done during a diaper change and will help them develop neck and abdominal muscles by contracting them as they sit up.
One of the major milestones that every parent looks forward to, is their baby learning to sit on his own. For your baby to achieve this milestone, he must have enough upper body strength and should be able to hold his head up without any support.
Pediatricians encourage parents to help their babies gain these large motor skills through helpful exercises and positions. Tummy time and ring sit position, are some of the best ways to help strengthen the neck and abdominal muscles of your baby. By following these simplest everyday activities, your baby will be ready to sit right up in no time.
Hajira is a certified editor, an experienced and thoughtful writer, and a mother of two. Her deliberate passion for writing convinced her to become a writer along with her mom duties. Driven by her passion for writing, she takes pride in providing the best possible. She aims to incite and provoke enthusiasm in her readers.