Around the time your baby learns to crawl, she will begin experimenting with pulling up to stand. Eventually she will be able to stand up on her own—quite an accomplishment considering how much strength, coordination and balance it takes to get her body into a vertical position and stay there! It’s the foundation she will need to walk, but before we get excited about walking let’s shine a light on this exciting milestone.
When Do Babies Stand?
Generally, between 8-10 months, babies experiment with using furniture or other fixed objects to pull to standing. Between months 11 and 13, most babies are able to stand up on their own and remain standing. All babies are different, so check in with your pediatrician if you’re worried about your baby’s development.
How Does Standing Develop?
As an infant, your baby will “stand” on your lap and you may think you gave birth to a future superhero. In reality, this is called the positive support reflex, which will disappear by 6 months. This reflex allows her to push against things (like a swaddle, car seat or your lap) and begins to strengthen her leg muscles.
By 6 months your baby will be able to use her legs to bear some weight, and will bounce up and down while you hold her on your lap.
Around 8 months, if you place your baby standing next to the couch, she may be able to remain standing—likely leaning her body against it and hanging on tightly.
Between 9-10 months, your baby will feel more comfortable standing while holding onto furniture, and she’ll start experimenting with using it to pull herself up. She will spend many hours practicing lowering herself to sit, which at first involves bending her knees and a diaper-cushioned drop to the floor.
The period between 11-13 months is standing prime time. Your baby will graduate to holding onto the couch with one arm instead of two, switching arms, transferring weight from one side of her body to the other, and eventually letting go and standing by herself. She will also learn to stand up without pulling up on furniture, and she’ll perfect the art of lowering herself to the floor in a controlled way.
Standing and Sensory Motor Development
Pediatric Physical Therapist Andrea Hayward, MSPT, DPT points out that independent standing up and sitting back down requires tremendous motor control, which encompasses strength, coordination and balance. All of your baby’s gross motor development thus far has prepared her for this task by strengthening her muscles and ability to effectively balance her body and use its parts to achieve purposeful movement.
Being in a vertical position is a significant step in the development of your baby’s internal (vestibular and proprioceptive) senses, which are responsible for balance and coordination. During tummy time, rolling, sitting and crawling, her entire body has been close to the ground. Now that she’s standing, her upper body is further from the ground than ever before, and the way she balances and moves her body while upright is vastly different.
Standing and Vision
Researchers from New York University attached cameras to babies’ heads in order to study what they see while crawling compared to walking. The researchers found that when babies crawl, they tend to look down at the floor in front of them. This helps develop the inward movement of both eyes to focus on nearby objects.
In contrast, independent upright positions like sitting and standing help develop visual perception because babies have visual access to distant objects. Standing introduces babies to new visual terrain. When they stand up, the same room they’ve been crawling in looks totally different. “New visual information about the environment, along with the new body position create a dynamic and motivating challenge for babies,” Hayward says. “They must figure out how to get where they want to go in this new world.”
Encouraging Your Baby to Stand
Most babies are intrinsically motivated to stand. It’s a nice view from the top! If you want to help your baby practice, try one of the fun standing activities on our BabySparks app.
Hayward points out that equipment like activity centers, jumpers and others that support your baby in a standing position may actually hinder the development of this milestone, as they restrict the natural strengthening of her muscles and movement of her hips. Hayward stresses that above all, giving her lots of time to move freely is the most important thing you can do for all gross motor development: “Opportunity leads to practice, and practice leads to mastery.”