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Baby's Big Triumph: Sitting Up

There are certain moments of my first years as a mom that stand out with freeze-frame clarity. Like the time my then lumpish 2-month-old, Henry, rolled over from his tummy to his back  -- a feat I found so impressive I actually brought him into work the next day so my colleagues could watch. (So much for my carefully cultivated professional cool.) Or the summer day eight months later when Henry pointed a pudgy finger to the sky and said "Kite!" when he saw one flying in our backyard. I swear I can still hear this first squeaky word hanging in the air.

Your baby book's "Memorable Moments" page may start out blank, but those "firsts" rack up fast. Even when you know to expect them, milestones can surprise, thrill, or sometimes even unnerve you. Here, how your baby reaches this moment, and what you might experience when she does.

Sitting up by himself
(6 to 7 months)
Babies love to see what's going on. Around 4 or 5 months, most have the neck control and back strength to sit propped up by pillows on the floor for short periods. (And even then, they may topple over, so they need to be watched carefully.) It's not until about 6 months that most gain the strength to hold their back erect enough to sit all by themselves.

What you're feeling: Each stage of a child's life has its charms, but to me, the sight of a plump, smiling baby who's able to sit up unsupported (but not yet capable of scampering off or fussing about being dressed in something adorable, white, and smocked) is what I call the ideal of babyness! As soon as each of my four kids hit this milestone, it was off to the photo studio to immortalize the occasion. (Actually, this happens to be the only formal baby portrait of my poor Page, under-recorded child No. 4.)

Paula Spencer is a contributing editor at Parenting and a mom of four.