At four months (or even earlier), your baby loves it when you pull her to a sitting position. She now has enough control over her back and neck muscles to keep her head from flopping over and leaving her nose in her navel. At first, however, her head might fall backward somewhat while you pull her up. Once upright, though, she can probably hold her head fairly steady. As your baby gains more and more control over her muscles during the fifth (or perhaps sixth) month, she will become able to keep her head in line with her chest and shoulders even while being pulled up.
Although your baby may hold a steady sitting position for some time by six months, she is still working very hard to maintain her balance. So don't leave her sitting up on a bed, couch, or chair.
When she's sitting on a hard surface, scatter plenty of pillows around her for the inevitable time when she flops over headfirst. Even then, don't leave her. If she falls face first and her body lands on top of her arms, she may not be able to lift her face from the pillows.
Sitting up gives your baby so much more to see and learn that she won't be able to get enough of it. Once she's learned that you can pull her up to sitting, she probably won't even wait for you to offer anymore. Instead, she'll reach out imploringly-and you'll be unable to resist.
By her half-birthday (or perhaps a little later), your baby will probably do much of the work involved in pulling herself up to sitting. All you need to do is give her the fingers she needs to support herself while she pulls. Once she's sitting, your child can probably remain in that position without any support for quite some time.
Your baby may also be able to hold herself in a sitting position for a little while if you set her up just right. Plant her on her bottom and spread her legs in a V position for balance. Then pull her arms together and place her hands on the floor between her legs. (She will have to lean forward a bit to reach the floor.) By supporting herself on her outstretched arms and balancing herself with her legs, she can sit almost upright. With a little practice, she may even learn to support herself with just one hand.
Sooner or later, your baby will lose her strength, concentration, or balance and topple over. But in the meantime, she gains a whole new perspective on the world.
Trying to Stand
If you pull your baby to a standing position, remember to pull gently. Jerking him could result in a dislocated elbow or shoulder. Remember also never to pick your child all the way up by the hands or forearms.
Sitting, although fun and fascinating, won't satisfy your baby for long. Once he's discovered the joys of sitting up, he will want to go even higher. During the fifth or sixth month, your baby will probably start bearing some weight on his legs, so he will love it if you help him to pull himself up from a sitting position to a standing position. To start, you can pull your baby up while he is sitting in your lap, facing you, and holding your hands. But soon you can gently pull him to standing anywhere-as long as he has some place to plant his feet without slipping.
Like all your baby's physical skills, sitting and standing improve with practice. Practice allows him to both strengthen and coordinate the muscles needed to maintain balance and stability. With practice, your baby may even be able to remain standing for a short time by his half-birthday-just as long as he has something to hold on to for support.