As with so many skills, learning to stand is a progression. Your baby will learn to bear weight on their legs first with support, then gradually gain balance and strength until one day, they stand all by themselves. The timeline for when babies learn to stand varies considerably, since it’s the final result of many months of skill-building. But once your baby can stand on their own, walking isn’t far behind—so hold on, you’re about to have a toddler 🙂
In this article:
- When do babies start to stand?
- How does my baby learn to stand?
- Building leg strength (newborn to 3 months)
- Bearing weight on legs with support (4 to 7 months)
- Pulling up to stand (7 to 10 months)
- Standing with support (9 to 13 months)
- Standing unassisted (10 to 16 months)
- How can I help my baby learn to stand?
- How long after babies learn to stand do they start walking?
- Developmental delays and standing
- How to keep babies safe while they’re learning to stand
When do babies start to stand?
Your baby will figure out how to pull up to a standing position using furniture or your hands between 7 and 10 months. Once they’re comfortable with pulling up to stand, around 10 months, your baby will begin to test their ability to stand without support for a few seconds at a time. Many babies can stand up unassisted—at least briefly—by around 10 to 16 months of age.
How does my baby learn to stand?
Your baby learns to stand through a developmental progression that begins at the newborn stage. Every month, your baby gets stronger and better able to move and balance their body weight. This work eventually prepares them to stand up—with support at first, and later independently. Here’s what the progression of skills to standing looks like:
Building leg strength (newborn to 3 months)
Standing may seem a long way off when you look at your tiny newborn. But even now, your baby is slowly building the muscle strength they will need to stand up on their own.
You may have noticed that when your baby is lying down, they extend their legs and push against whatever is next to them—furniture or your hands. You can use your baby’s natural tendency to push with their legs to help them strengthen their muscles.
Bearing weight on their legs with support (4 to 7 months)
As your baby grows and their muscles strengthen, they will try putting weight on their legs. “Standing”’ in your lap may be one of their favorite activities at this stage, especially when rewarded with hugs and kisses from you ❤️
By the time your baby is 5 to 7 months old, they may be able to bear almost all their weight on their legs and bounce when held in a standing position. Give your baby practice standing on your lap while you hold them—this helps them develop control of their leg muscles.
Pulling up to stand (7 to 10 months)
Around 7 to 10 months, your baby may try pulling up to stand using a table leg, couch, low table, or even your legs.
Initially, this movement requires a lot of physical strength and coordination since your baby needs to use their arm muscles to pull their body weight up and balance on their feet. As they refine this skill, you may see them use a half kneeling position to pull themselves up, where they kneel on one knee with the other leg bent in front of them, foot flat against the floor. You’ll see them start to pull themselves up to stand using horizontal support surfaces like the couch, and then using vertical surfaces like a wall.
You can encourage your baby to pull up to stand by offering play activities up off the floor. For instance, set one or two playthings on an ottoman or couch (with or without the cushion, depending on your baby’s height) to support their belly while they use their hands to explore. You can increase the challenge of the activity by holding their favorite plaything up near the wall to encourage them to pull to stand.
Getting into standing is a skill that takes months to refine, with most babies pulling up into a standing position without any support by around 12 to 14 months. Once your child is upright, you may see a lot of gentle bouncing and knee-bending—this helps them get used to being on their feet and builds hip, leg, and core muscles.
Standing with support (9 to 13 months)
After pulling up to stand, your baby will practice standing with support, usually around 9 to 13 months. They may lean onto a low, flat surface while standing, or keep one or both hands on a support to steady themselves.
You can help your baby practice balancing on their feet to prepare for standing unsupported and eventually walking:
Turn them around. Offer a toy while you stand right behind them. They’ll need to rotate their body to grasp it, which helps them develop the balance and core strength needed to eventually walk.
Support them from behind. Instead of having your baby face a wall or soft piece of furniture, try placing them with their back to the support. This gets them used to the feeling of having nothing in front of them while still having something to lean on. As you stand in front of them, offer their favorite playthings to encourage reaching and briefly lifting their back off the couch, leading to moments of unassisted standing.
Stand away from surfaces. Sit your baby on the floor away from a supportive surface and offer a toy above their eye level, like the Stainless Steel Jingle Keys. Hold your baby’s hand and let them pull themselves up into standing to grab the toy overhead. This gives your baby a new kind of balancing practice with less stabilizing support than they would get by holding onto a table or couch.
Change your support. You can progress your baby’s standing balance by simply changing how you support them with your hands. As they get more stable in supported standing, slowly reduce the amount of support you provide by moving your hands lower on your baby’s body. Try singing or talking to your baby while you are holding their hands in standing, then move your hands down to their tummy for support, then hips, and lastly at their legs. The lower your supportive hands are, the more you’re challenging your baby’s standing balance and strength.
Standing unassisted (10 to 16 months)
Once your baby may has gotten the hang of standing while using a support like furniture or your leg, they may start experimenting with letting go of their support and standing on their own for a few seconds at a time, somewhere around 11 months of age.
Notice how your baby works hard to balance as they try to remain standing without holding onto anything. At first your baby may only try standing on their own for a few seconds. Be prepared for a few little falls as your baby is practicing standing without support, and stay close. Your baby is making progress toward becoming a walker.
During the first few years of your child’s life, you’ll likely notice a natural progression of standing postures as your little one develops from a curled-up newborn to a toddler on the move.
Your baby’s flexed positioning in the womb and at birth matures slowly into an upright posture through the development of early childhood motor skills like standing and walking. As a newborn, most babies are born with bow-leggedness (which experts call genu-varum) that gradually straightens out around 1 to 2 years of age, then develops into a knock kneed (called genu-valgum) position around 2 to 3.5 years of age. In fact, your child’s stance won’t fully develop into a mature, adult-like position (known as straight to mild genu-valgum) until around age 6 or 7.
How can I help my baby learn to stand?
To encourage your baby to stand, give them plenty of practice with standing play, which helps them develop the strength and balance they’ll need for walking.
Create opportunities for standing play by moving objects and activities off the floor and onto sturdy low furniture, such as couches, chairs, and tables. If your sofa has removable cushions, you can take them off so your baby can pull up to stand on the frame of the couch.
Activities to encourage your baby to stand:
- Place favorite toys on a low table or couch to give your baby an incentive to pull up to a standing position.
- Secure the Framed Mirror on your wall to encourage your baby to look at themselves while standing.
- Have your baby sit on a small stool and hold one or two hands as they practice transitioning from sitting to standing, a simple leg strengthening exercise.
- Tape the Magic Tissues along your wall to encourage your baby to stand and pull them down; babies love pulling sticky notes off of surfaces.
- Try placing the Treasure Basket on the floor and the Wood Ball Set on the couch or ottoman. Model transferring the balls to the basket and back up again to promote squatting and standing, helping to develop the muscles and skills they’ll eventually use to walk.
Please supervise your baby at all times during these activities to ensure they do not mouth stickers and sticky notes. Small items like these could become choking hazards, so put them safely away when play is done.
When baby gets stuck standing up
Babies learn to pull themselves up into standing before they learn how to get down from standing without falling 🙃 Sitting from a standing position requires leg strength and coordination, and pulling up to stand may be easier for your baby to learn than lowering back down, which babies usually figure out sometime between 9 and 11 months.
Getting down from standing is more challenging than pulling up because it requires learning to hold on to a support surface while lowering their body with control. As your baby gains practice and coordination with lowering themselves down from standing, they’re also strengthening their leg and core muscles in preparation for walking.
If your baby hasn’t quite learned how to sit back down after pulling up to stand, you can help them get unstuck. Lovevery Pediatric Occupational Therapist Rachel Coley shares these tips to teach your baby how to start learning to get out of a standing position on their own:
Encourage “standing to sitting” play. Sit cross-legged in front of a low surface like a coffee table or sofa with the cushions removed. Place a toy on the table or sofa to entice your baby to pull up to stand. Once they’ve been standing for a minute or two, gently guide their hips down into your lap, so they get used to the motion and feeling of sitting down. Try to offer as little support as you can—they’ll mostly need help with balance.
Practice mini-squats. When your baby is already standing and holding onto a surface, offer them a toy or an inviting object at thigh or knee level, just below their reach. This encourages them to do a “mini-squat:” holding on with one hand, they bend their knees and lower themselves just enough to grasp the object. Use playthings and activities with built-in repetition, like placing multiple objects into a container. Doing “reps” up and down helps them build strength.
Offer opportunities for full-squat play. Once your baby can do mini-squats more easily, start offering toys at floor level. For balance and support, make sure they’re standing at a stable surface that’s easy for them to grip.
How long after babies learn to stand do they start walking?
Learning to stand is a significant step on your baby’s path toward walking. Each baby is unique, and some learn to walk soon after standing while others take a bit longer. Research suggests that on average babies tend to walk about 2 to 2.5 months after they learn to stand unsupported. Remember, there’s no rush—your child builds skills gradually as their muscles and balance improve.
To support your child’s transition from standing to walking, try these activities:
Standing play. Place toys, board books, and other high-interest items on a surface just high enough for your baby to reach once they’ve pulled into a standing position. Couches (with the seat cushions removed if possible), ottomans, and sturdy low tables work well for this.
“Squat to stand” play. Sit on the floor with your baby on your lap, just in front of a low surface they can pull up on, such as a coffee table. Help guide their hips into a standing position, then help them back down. This can teach your baby how it feels to go up and then down again, which may strengthen the muscles they’ll use for walking.
Kneeling play. Try encouraging a “tall kneel” in front of a low surface. A tall kneel means kneeling with your baby’s bottom lifted off their heels. Playing in this position can work your baby’s core muscles and can help them practice balancing. Offer a fun toy on a nearby surface and help your baby reach for it while lifting their bottom off of their knees.
Developmental delays and standing
Each child’s developmental path is unique and there is a wide range of when milestones like standing can develop. If your baby isn’t bearing weight on their legs by the time they are 12 months old or if they are showing signs of any muscle weakness, consult your pediatrician. They can answer any questions, assess your baby’s developmental path, and recommend a physical or occupational therapist if needed. You may also reach out to your state’s early intervention program to see if your baby is eligible for services.
How to keep your baby safe while they’re learning to stand
While your baby is learning to stand, it’s important to stay close by even if they seem fairly stable while standing. Babies who haven’t yet learned to walk can still be wobbly on their feet.
Your baby’s protective reflexes are also just developing at this age. The instinct to hold out their arms to brace for a fall, also known as the parachute reaction, typically develops when babies are about 8 to 9 months old. This means that if they tip over after pulling up to stand, they may not have the instinct to hold out their arms to brace their fall. So it’s always a good idea to stay near your baby while they’re standing or hold their hand so you can support them if they fall.
Once your baby begins to stand, walking isn’t far off—so prepare your home now for a baby that’s on the move. Here are a few safety precautions to consider once your baby is standing:
- Ensure that any furniture your baby may use for pulling up (couch, bookshelves, chairs) are weighted or secured to the wall so they cannot pull furniture over onto themselves.
- Only allow your baby to stand on safe surfaces like the floor or ground, not any elevated surfaces.
- Clear the floor of any stepping hazards that your baby might step on—small toys, sharp objects, slippery surfaces.
- Use baby gates to block off stairs.
- Cover sharp corners (like coffee tables or fireplace hearths) so your baby cannot get injured while standing.
Meet the Experts
Learn more about the Lovevery child development experts who created this story.
Research & Resources
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