It is so exciting (and somewhat bittersweet) to watch our babies grow, develop, and become more mobile. We are always looking toward that next milestone, like baby standing!
After a baby has mastered sitting up and crawling, they are well on their way to pulling to stand, baby standing unassisted, getting into standing by themselves, cruising along furniture, and then before you know it, they are walking across the stage at their high school graduation!
Okay, I am joking, but it does seem to go that fast!
It is so fun to watch them start to explore the world in new and exciting positions, like baby standing or sitting up.
If you are not sure on what to expect with each baby milestone, this one will cover baby standing, but you can read this blog about baby roll over to see what comes before standing!
In this blog, we will cover:
- When do babies sit up
- When do babies start crawling
- When do babies pull up to stand
- When do babies stand with support
- When do babies stand up unassisted
- When do babies walk/when do babies start walking
- Baby standing too early
- Baby standing at 2 months
- Baby standing at 3 months
- Baby standing at 7 months
- Baby standing up toys
- Baby standing walker
When do babies sit up?
After your baby has mastered rolling from doing a lot of tummy time (which is important for strengthening the muscles in their neck and core), they will start to sit unassisted when placed in that position.
Your baby may have the skills to sit independently (meaning unsupported, not touching them) for 30-60 seconds (or longer) when placed in a sitting position around 6 months of age.
Getting in and out of a sitting position independently (meaning from the floor into sitting and sitting back down onto their side/stomach/back) is more of a 7-9 month milestone.
While the first 3-4 months of life are focused on tummy time activities (because this is the foundation for strengthening those extensor muscles/muscles along their back), the months that follow that are for positions like sitting, standing, and crawling.
In utero, your baby is in a flexed position, meaning they are curled in the “fetal position.” This elongates the muscles along their back, stretching them.
That means those muscles are fairly weak and need a lot of work (tummy time) in order to get stronger and support their bodies in other developmental positions.
Other reasons tummy time is important include:
- Can help to prevent flat spots
- Strengthens neck and shoulder muscles for sitting, crawling, and walking
- Improves your baby's motor skills (using muscles to move and complete an action- this is important for neurological development)
From birth, babies would benefit from short periods of tummy time, a handful of times a day. One to two minutes at a time can really add up at the end of the day!
What if your baby hates tummy time? Tummy time counts in a lot of different ways and does not have to be just belly down on the floor.
When you have a newborn, you can do tummy time while skin to skin on you or your partner’s chest. This is great for bonding as well!
Baby wearing also counts as tummy time, because they are off of their back (which is for safe sleep) and they may have to work on head control while being worn. If you are not familiar with safe baby wearing, you can get a quick refresher for what TICKS is!
You could place them over a boppy pillow, over a towel/blanket that is rolled up, across your lap, or with your arms under their chest, supporting them.
You may also place some gentle pressure on their bottom down and toward their feet to shift some of their weight backward, making it easier for them to lift their head. This can alleviate a lot of frustration for them!
You can always get down on the floor and interact with them (or enlist the help of older siblings if they have them/are available). You can make funny faces, sing songs, and play with their favorite toys.
They may cry or get upset during tummy time. Try to not pick them up automatically, but rather soothe and comfort while they are in this position like rubbing their back or speaking in soothing voices.
This trick will come in handy when your child figures out rolling while they are supposed to be sleeping!
So when do you know that you can start to place your baby in a sitting position? You will probably have them sitting supported in your lap while playing with them.
Once you feel like baby is needing less of your help and is becoming more coordinated/stronger with their movements, you can experiment with sitting them up, staying right next to them with a hand ready to give extra support.
Over time, they will become stronger and sit for longer periods of time without you having to intervene!
According to Cando Kiddo, wobbling is very important! “Every movement - every wobble - sends new sensory information to your child's brain from her visual sense, her movement (vestibular), her pressure & stretch (proprioceptive) sense and her touch (tactile) sense.
This wobbling info elicits actions from your baby - tiny adjustments of her head position or body position to slightly shift her weight and try to bring her back to center.
If a wobble is too big, it might elicit a reflexive action like a sudden reach of the arms to stop a fall or an ab crunch to slow a backwards tumble (and, quite often, it will result in a tumble so make sure your little one is sitting on a soft surface).”
Other signs that baby may be ready to start sitting up on their own:
- Pushing up onto their hands when doing tummy time
- Rolling in both directions
- Some may be scooting on their belly
- Might be pushing into a tripod position (meaning one or both hands support themselves on the floor)
Having a baby that can sit independently opens up a whole new world for parents! You can sit them on the floor for a quick second instead of trying to find some place you can lay them down. Woo hoo!
When do babies start crawling?
Before you reach this milestone, you may want to research childproofing your home!
Crawling may start once your baby can push up onto all fours. But instead of moving forward, they actually sort of launch themselves backwards!
They may look like a little inchworm in reverse for a short period of time. In order to move forward, they have to figure out coordinating the opposite arm and leg.
This is important for a whole host of reasons neurologically, and is why babies should not actually skip crawling. According to CogniKids, crawling is the most important milestone.
They list reasons such as:
- Physical development/strengthening for all the major muscles in their body
- Brain development (encourages crossing midline which indicates that both sides of their brain is working together)
- Vision develops both near and far
- Coordination and balance
- Builds confidence as it encourages them to interact more with their environment and fosters their curiosity
This milestone happens somewhere around 7-10 months. It takes a little bit of time to figure out that coordination!
Some signs that your little one is starting to figure out crawling include:
- Getting in and out of a sitting position
- Transitions from sitting to all fours
- Rocking on all fours
- Propping up on their forearms when on their belly
- Maintaining their balance while reaching on all fours
- Crossing midline by rotating their trunk
- Pivoting on their belly by pushing up on their arms and turning
Some babies will learn to crawl in other ways outside of traditional crawling, however you should still encourage your little one to crawl on hands and knees!
They may do an army crawl (pulling themselves with their arms while staying on their belly), crab crawl (bends one knee and pulls with one arm), or only rolling where they want to go!
If you need to encourage your little one to crawl on hands and knees, some fun activities include:
- Supporting their chest so they maintain an all fours position
- Letting them play in front of a mirror
- Use their favorite toy to entice them
- Give them plenty of free time (meaning no containers like bouncers, jumpers, exersaucers)
- Allow your baby to play in different positions (sitting, on their sides, etc)
- Crawl with your baby (so hold their belly up while they move their arms and legs)
When do babies stand with support?
Around 3-5 months old, you will be able to hold your baby upright and they will be able to support weight on their feet for short periods of time. You are still supporting most of their weight for them.
They may bounce up and down a little bit too! This movement allows for them to get used to weight bearing positions, strengthen their legs and stretch out their hips (remember all that flexed time they spent in the womb?).
Now is probably the time to learn about container syndrome. A container is anything that limits the movement of a baby. They are usually able to start using these around 4-6 months of age, depending on the manufacturer.
This is important because time spent in a “container” is time that is not spent exploring and figuring out how their body works. Going from sleeping in a car seat (necessary while in a car), to sitting in a high chair (which is necessary too), to standing in an exercauser, and then laying in a nursing pillow… It really starts to add up!
Containers can prevent your baby from learning the correct way to do things like stand and walk. They promote poor posture and alignment in general.
Does that mean you should never use those things? Absolutely not. In today’s world, we need a safe space for babies to entertain themselves for short periods of time. We do not have a “village” needed to occupy a baby for all hours of the day.
It is just important to be mindful of giving adequate floor time for our little ones to explore their world, learn how their body moves, and allow them to naturally develop.
So when do babies stand with support? Very early on, and it builds from there!
Their leg muscles will continue to get much stronger as they become more proficient at standing and bearing weight in their legs. That means they will be able to support their weight in standing.
Around 5-6 months, their legs can start to support most of their weight (meaning you won’t be supporting them as much). They start to bounce around 6-7 months old.
Next up, pulling up to stand!
When do babies pull up to stand?
Between 8-12 months, your baby is becoming super mobile! Remember that each skill builds on the last and each one is just as important.
This can lead to some baby sleep regressions.
They will start to crawl to surfaces of varying heights and pull themselves up. They may start with a low surface and work their way up to a higher surface. In order to practice this skill, you may remove the cushion from a couch and let them pull up on that low of a surface first.
This is also the time you want to make sure your crib mattress is on it’s lowest setting before they start to practice their skills in the crib.
When do babies stand up unassisted
Briefly (like three to five seconds) standing without support can happen between 9-11+ months. They are experimenting with balance at this age.
Stay ready and close by to catch them in case they lose their balance!
As they become more confident and develop their balance, they will be able to stand for longer periods of time without assistance.
Between 11-14+ months, they will be able to stand for 10+ seconds with a normal posture and balance. They will appear more relaxed and confident in this position.
When do babies walk/when do babies start walking?
This milestone has a very wide range for “normal.” You child may begin walking/taking steps as early as 9 months or as late as 17 months!
If your baby skipped traditional crawling, they may take a little longer to start walking without help.
Another important condition to familiarize yourself with is called Nursemaid’s Elbow. This is an injury that happens when pulling a child up by their hand or wrist.
When supporting children with walking, try to not hold their hand/wrist above their head. When they fall or lose their balance, your natural instinct is to pull them back up. That pulling motion can cause a dislocation of their ulna at their elbow!
It is best to support them by standing in front of them and holding their hands out in front of them or under their armpits instead.
Baby standing too early
A popular myth is that letting your baby stand will make them “bowlegged.” This is not true at all!
Young babies are learning how to bear weight on their legs and find their center of gravity, so letting your child stand or bounce is both fun and developmentally stimulating for him.
Baby standing at 2 months, Baby standing at 3 months, Baby standing at 7 months?
Babies standing at these ages all look very different! At 2 months, your baby will likely not straighten their legs enough to actually bear weight on them. They may be ready for that closer to 3 and 4 months old.
At 7 months, they will bear weight on their legs with their feet flat on the floor or your lap for short periods of time but still with a lot of help!
Baby standing up toys & baby standing walker?
Please note that your baby can learn to stand without the use of toys! However, where is the fun in that?
You want to be mindful and intentional about the toys that you are introducing to your little one. Ones that allow them to move around and explore as opposed to ones that restrict their movement and can lead to container syndrome.
This is where it is okay to spend a little extra money because you can purchase intentional toys that grow with your little one, and not ones that just take up space. We are all about multi-functional!
The two main toys that are beneficial for helping your child develop are things like walker wagons and pull up bars.
Choosing toys with a wide base, are heavy (prevents them from tipping over with all the extra weight your child puts on them), high quality (lasts longer) and are multi purposeful.
Another helpful tool is the infant coordination mirror. The mirror can be used from birth so it truly grows with your child.
The pull-up bar allows for your child to learn to stand independently. The mirror is intriguing and allows them to increase their self-awareness!
The Radio Flyer wagon has a sturdy, wide base that can be used for multiple things. When your baby is learning to stand, they will be able to pull themselves up using the handle.
This toy also grows with them, meaning they will get a lot of use out of it in the various developmental stages that they go through.
Toys that you may want to avoid (no judgement if you have these in your house!):
- Plastic walkers; this is because they are very lightweight, and the wheels do not provide any traction. That can be dangerous because it could tip over very easily, they could fall over if they get to moving too fast, and an increased risk of injury if they go through a slippery surface.
- Lightweight walkers; even if you buy a wooden one, they are not all created equal!
- Saucer shaped walkers/toys; most child development professionals do not recommend the use of these products because they can cause an increase risk for hip dysplasia, possible developmental delays, and weaker hip muscles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has actually called for a ban on infant walkers due to the injuries that occur each year from these devices.
Their biggest concerns are using them around stairwells and gaining access to things on counters that they would not have otherwise.
According to an article in the AAP’s journal, “In 1997, a voluntary standard called for walker frames to be wider than doorways. Tougher safety standards became mandatory in 2010, but the Academy has pushed to ban the walkers due to the hazards they present.”
Of course childproofing the home is common sense, but it is easy to overlook some things sometimes! We are all human.
The AAP is also concerned with the developmental delay that infant walkers can lead to. You can read more about the risk of developmental delay by using walkers in this article.
More research is available in this article about developmental delays both physically and mentally when using “tray walkers.”
Basically, there is no advantage to using those walkers and a slight risk when you do use them.
I think with everything in life, things like infant walkers are okay in moderation when they are counteracted with a lot of free time on the floor and your home is properly childproofed to prevent injury!
Takeaways about the Baby Standing Milestone?
This is another milestone that happens slowly as they develop and get stronger. Building a good foundation of tummy time/floor time from birth will aid in your child developing the skills to become more proficient in other skills!
As always, if you are ever concerned about your child’s development, please speak with your physician. In most, if not all states, an evaluation with early childhood intervention is free and can help you get the resources you need if it is warranted, or peace of mind if it is not.
Author Bio: Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep-deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!