How to teach a baby to sit up from a lying position

Updated April 17, 2017

Many infants find that they enjoy seeing the world from a sitting position, rather than lying down. Until babies can figure out how to get from lying down to sitting up independently, they are often frustrated and cranky until someone sits them up. Parents can work with infants to develop the muscles they need to accomplish this task and physically show them how to transition from lying down to sitting up.

Allow the baby to perfect sitting up independently first. An infant starts sitting up independently around 6 to 8 months of age. At first, stay close by or surround the baby with a horseshoe-shaped pillow (such as Boppy), as he tends to tip over easily. With time, he can strengthen the muscles in his back, neck and abdomen so that when he is able to get himself into a sitting position, he won't immediately topple over.

Place the baby on her tummy to play. Many infants don't like this position, but it is crucial in learning to sit. When playing on her stomach, a baby strengthens her arm, neck and core muscles, which all play a part in moving from lying down to a sitting position.

Tempt the baby with his favourite toys. It's a good idea to have many toys with bright colours, textures and sounds that a baby wants to get his hands on. Keep them just out of reach so that he has to stretch and reach for them.

Move the baby on her side and into a sitting position. As an infant reaches for a toy, help her move her body so that she rolls onto her side. Then place her hands on the floor and assist her as she pushes up off the floor so that she can sit up and play with the toy she was reaching for.

Show your baby another way. Some babies go from lying to sitting by getting up on their hands and knees, sliding one foot in front of them, and then sitting back. Depending on different muscle strength, this may be easier for some infants. Move a baby's arms and legs and show him how to sit up using this technique.

Repeat the motions until the baby can do it herself. Several times a day, put a baby's favourite toy just out of reach when she is on her tummy, so that she stretches for it. Then help her repeat the motion of rolling onto her side and pushing up with her arms. Also repeat the movement of pushing a foot out in front and sitting back. Once she realises she can sit up anytime she wants without help, that motivation may push her to accomplish the goal.


Parents should not be concerned if it takes awhile for infants to learn this skill. For many infants, they don't have the coordination and muscle strength to accomplish this until they reach about 9 months, and some may take longer. While parents can show their baby how to sit up and encourage the motion, a baby won't be able to accomplish the task until she has mastered all the other skills needed.


If you haven't already baby-proofed your house, it is extremely important to tackle this task. Once an infant can get from lying to sitting up independently, crawling, pulling up on furniture and walking with some assistance all occur quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Horseshoe-shaped baby pillow
  • Bright-coloured infant toys
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About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Laura Wilson entered the writing community in 2010. She writes about children, education and health-related topics for various websites. Wilson has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Houghton College.