Q: My 9-month-old baby can't stand up well, even with support. What can I do?
A: Before you start worrying, look at your baby's development over the last several months. Progression is important in addition to timing of development, so if she's been consistently achieving other major milestones (like using her pincer grasp, babbling, and socializing) it may not be surprising that it is taking her a bit longer to stand than other kids her age. Some children are naturally more laid-back and simply not interested in getting up.
In many cases, all your baby needs is a little incentive. Encourage her by placing her toys on a low coffee or end table so that she must pull herself up to reach them. If your baby has been spending time in a walker (which we do not recommend for safety reasons) or stationary play center, it's also a good time to stop using it. It is a good idea to let the child's leg muscles do the work required to stand. Instead, play with a toy your baby can stand behind and hold onto (just make sure it's very stable, since she won't be at first). Sometimes the allure of a new toy or favorite plaything placed out of reach is just what a baby needs to make it to the next stage of development.
If these don't help, you can try some exercises for strengthening your baby's legs. Stand your baby up while holding her hands or supporting her lightly under her arms while her legs bear weight (don't try to get her to take a step yet, just focus on helping her learn to support her own weight). Your baby may resist at first, since she most likely prefers sitting or lying down, but go ahead and be pushy about making her try for at least a few minutes each day. Give your baby lots of tummy time as well so she can practice pushing up and strengthening her abdominal muscles, which will also help her to eventually pull up and stand.
Most babies start pulling up on their own and then cruising around furniture between 9 and 12 months. If your baby doesn't seem to be making any progress over the next few weeks or months, express your concerns to your pediatrician, who may refer you to a physical therapist to help boost your baby's motor skills.
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