General Question

keobooks's avatar

How unusual is it for a baby not to be able to sit up at all at 8 months?

Asked by keobooks (14293points) May 5th, 2011

I was at a friends house. My daughter is 7 months, and her son is 8 months. My daughter is crawling, pulling up and climbing stairs. Her son still lays flat on his back most of the time and can only sit up in one of those special seats.

I was talking to her, and found out that he can’t roll over in either direction. He wasn’t babbling, cooing, or showing much interest in interacting with anyone, and worst of all, she would get really excited when he smiled—something most people I know stopped getting excited about when their kids were less than 2 months old. Over all, he is about where my daughter was at 8 weeks old. I’m not even sure if he has full head control. It was hard to tell, since he never sat up.

She doesn’t seem worried about it at all. She says he’s “just chillin’ ” And He’ll do things whenever he wants to do them. He’s just lazy” I know kids develop at all different speeds, but he seems to be MUCH slower than any kid I’ve seen his age.

But maybe I don’t have much experience with babies. Is this slower than average but still normal, or does this sound delayed? It’s one of those things I am too embarrassed to ask her about it, but it’s getting very awkward the more my daughter keeps passing him by. I almost feel like I have to apologize for her showing off.

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36 Answers

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Judi's avatar

Hopefully he is getting his well baby checks with his doctor. Maybe he’s a late bloomer or maybe he has problems. That’s why doctors see babies several times in the first year.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Crawling, pulling up and doing stairs at 7 months is ahead of schedule, so I wouldn’t compare them. Is your friend taking her baby for well baby check-ups?

Does she carry her baby around a lot? Babies who are never put down can have slower muscular development.

keobooks's avatar

@snowberry That happens to me all the time. It’s the stupid mousepad that clicks itself that does me in. Take your time, but I’d be interested to know what you typed.

@Judi I’m pretty sure he’s going to his checkups. But she doesn’t talk much about the doctor except to say that she didn’t like his first doctor.

@BarnacleBill – Yeah, I try not to use my daughter as a measuring stick. She’s developing in her own weird way, and I know she’s going to have her own set of problems when she gets older (that’s another post… but most of the kids in my family who developed the way she is ended up having some issues later on.. so I’m keeping an eye out for that.)

Anyway, I watch a lot of other kids, and he just stands out as very different. But still, I’m hoping by the time they are 5 everyone’s on the same page and nobody cares who sat up when. But I’m starting to worry about this little boy.

BarnacleBill's avatar

It’s entirely possible something is not right, and she’s in denial about it. Which is unfortunate because early therapies can help with a lot of things. I have a niece that was deprived of oxygen at birth, and they were told she would developmentally never progress past age 5. She’s 35, plays the piano beautifully, has a driver’s license, and has worked at a day care center for 15 years. Her parents had her in all sorts of therapy starting in infancy.

King_Pariah's avatar

Floppy Infant Syndrome?

casheroo's avatar

It might be completely normal. Babies all do things at a different pace. But the fact he just lays there and doesn’t roll is concerning. Some babies are definitely just lazy but if he isn’t working on any of it, that is concerning.
This is such a touchy subject to bring up with a friend. But, I’d ask them point blank what the doctor said about him not sitting up yet. Then maybe she’ll discuss it more. Maybe she has talked to the doctor about it and they aren’t concerned yet.
I know I was freaking out that my baby wasn’t walking yet, he just turned 14 months and is walking but very wobbly. He took his first step at 12 months but it took two months to get to the point of walking unassisted. My older son started walking at 11 months and mastered it within a month…and he crawled sooner than my youngest…but my youngest sat up very early. So, it’s just whatever the hell they feel like doing.

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Buttonstc's avatar

The fact that he shows no interest in interacting with anyone (if this is a consistent trait) is what I would find cause for concern. Has this been the case each time you’ve seen him?

Coloma's avatar

Well…girls are almost always in advance of boys. lol
I wouldn’t ‘judge’ too much and if your friend is on top of her childs check ups if there are any developmental delays the physician should pick up on things.

My daughter walked across the room at 10 months and I think she was so shocked, she sat down and didn’t walk again til she was 13 months old. lol

She also had a stuttering issue between 3 and 4 but, outgrew that and is just as much of a brainiac artist as her mama now. haha

It is very inappropriate to judge and compare child development.

Every child/person has their strengths and weaknesses.

King_Pariah's avatar

@Coloma yes, but it can be cause for some concern and a lack of movement and especially the issue about sitting and rolling may actually be some cause for some concern, it may be paranoia, but I’d find out if the child had something wrong.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, but, really, it’s not your business now is it?

Maybe the parents are concerned, sensitive to their childs lag, why are YOU so concerned?

Be sensitive.

King_Pariah's avatar

Just putting out suggestions, and because whenever I play chess, I see the king being the little and unborn children of this world, the ones who need the greatest protection.

Jeruba's avatar


Coloma's avatar


Right. Well said.

Kids in the same family can be Apples & Oranges.
‘Different’ does not mean defective!

Jeruba's avatar

Oops—were you GAing what I erased? I guess I’ll restore it, then. Sorry. I deleted it because I think this 8-month-old boy might be outside the normal range, but it’s still a matter for a pediatrician to pronounce on, not us.

My earlier post:

The range of “normal” is very wide. Some kids scoot right along, and some take their time. My elder was in a rush for everything. He walked by himself at 10 months and had a 150-word vocabulary before age 2. My younger didn’t bother to sit up until 9 months and then stood a week later, but he waited until well past a year to walk. Even his teeth came in much later, and he spoke only when he was good and ready. He was just on his own clock.

They have both always been exactly like that: one buzzing to get somewhere, the other lagging at a distance. And, for the record, if they’re not equally bright then the younger has the advantage.

The younger is 25 years old now, and he sits up, walks, and has all his teeth. But guess what—he is still on a relaxed timetable. Son #1, 28, finished law school two years ago; son #2 is not showing any interest in finishing junior college. They’re just different. Period.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, I was. :-)

keobooks's avatar

I’m not “judging” this child. I’m not even implying that my child is the end all and be all. Like I said, she’s got her own issues and her quick to learn but odd way of learning may be signs of some learning difficulties she’ll have later on.

And yes, it’s none of my business, but I have curiosity. And the difference in development between the two babies is affecting our friendship. For instance, she doesn’t have to baby proof anything yet because he’s not moving around. I had to constantly chase after my daughter because she was trying to tear up books left out, stuff knick-knacks into her mouth and yank on her table cloths. We go to public play places, and I’m out playing with my daughter on the swings and the little slides and she has to sit with him swaddled up.

And I was thinking what’s going to happen in a few years? Will they be roughly on the same page, or will our kids be totally unable to play with each other because they will be at different levels even at the preschool age? It’s already been hard on the friendship. Will I be talking to her at all a year or two from now?

Without knoiwing anything about his development, nothing is safe to talk about without causing awkwardness. Some friends of mine and I are signing up for swim class with our babies. I have no idea if he could handle it—probably not. I don’t want to not ask her, but I don’t want to ask her and then have her embarrassed because her baby isn’t physically able to join in.

It would be inappropriate to point it out to her or make comparisons. I don’t do that. I downplay my daughter’s development as much as possible or just try to avoid talking about it altogether with this particular friend. And it’s hard to talk about anything much at all when I feel guilty and can’t talk about what I do with my daughter because it may seem like bragging. So we don’t talk much anymore. I would be more comfortable if it were safe to talk about. I don’t do well with taboo subjects and I get really nervous when there is a thing I’m supposed to pretend I don’t know about. I end up obsessing on it.

I’ve got a friend with an autistic daughter and before she was diagnosed her very odd behavior bothered me, not because of the behavior itself, but because everyone had to pretend that she wasn’t behaving the way she was. Once the word was out, it was just a relief and we could just get on with things. And this starting to feel like.. lets all pretend we don’t notice these things. And it’s driving me nuts.

You can just say “Stay out of it.. it’s none of your business” but why do things like that have to in such a way that everyone has to pretend that the elephant isn’t in the room? And why do some people find this to be judgmental?

And also, I don’t want to get lambasted for asking here. You guys don’t know me and you don’t know her baby. You don’t know my baby. This is like where you ask when you can’t really ask the question in public

Stinley's avatar

It’s a really tough situation for you and the other mummy. You want to help to get the best care for the baby but you don’t want to offend her and lose her friendship. I’m completely non-confrontational so understand what you are saying (I think, lol).

Maybe you could chat about baby books that you have read and lend her one on the developmental stages and when development is a cause for concern? I had one called Baby Talk by Sally Ward which set these out clearly – physical as well as speech related

Could you give her examples of somethings you were worried about with your own daughter, one which turned out to be nothing, one which was cause for concern and the help you got from the health professionals in both cases?

Do you have another friend in common who is more able to say something? Or someone she doesn’t know that you could introduce who is prepared to say something about the baby? Then you are only partly responsible(!) but could gently say that maybe it wouldn’t do any harm to get the baby checked out.

What about the baby’s dad – could you approach him? i know, this could be a whole new can of worms

creative1's avatar

She at very least should be having an Early Intervention Specialist (EI) into evaluate him, it sounds like he is delayed from all you are saying. When my daughter couldn’t sit up by this age my peditrician was concerned by she has EI since birth because her birth parents had mental delays and I was trying to stave off some of the delays they had by getting her the help early. His peditrician should be seeing red flags with his development milestones at this point, I am wondering is he making any funny movements like shrugging or bowing around feeding times?? Infantile Spasms are a type of seizure and can make a child delayed and can often be missed for a long period of time my daughters seizured looked liked this others look look like this They can cause a child to become seriously delayed since they happen when the child is developing. This made my child go from being able to role and almost sitting to being reduced to just lying there and they were caught very quickly, quicker than my neurologist had ever seen where she was only having 3 in a cluster. They can have 50 to 100 seizures in a cluster and each one is causing brain damage. Another thing that can cause this is floppiness of the muscles, is her baby really super flexible can bend easier than yours, like you have never seen before? That can also cause delays in doing things but this all needs to be worked with an EI specialist at this age, her peditrician should also be sending red flags to wanting to try to test to see if something else is underlying going on medically. My daughter had a whole host of genetic disorders that have now been diagnosed and can be worked with but unless you are a proactive parent, doctors don’t necessarily notice things on their own, you are your childs best advocate maybe you can tell your friend that.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I understand your concern and I will not criticize you. You seem to already understand that babies have their own time table, but if I were in a similar situation, I would be a little concerned as well. Here is a developmental time table which seems to be on the realistic side. Any doctor my kids have had would have been concerned about the apparent lack of skills of the baby. However, you seem to be unsure if she is even taking him for check ups. If she is, maybe the doctor has expressed some concerns she does not want to share with you.

I know my first child did not walk until he was 13 months, but my third was walking by 9 months. This, I was told, happens quite frequently as the younger children emulate the older one(s). Actually, my oldest did not start walking until he started playing with some twins who were near his age who were already walking. If this is her first and only child, she may also be in denial. I do not know exactly what to tell you, but I would try to find out if he is even going to check-ups with the doctor. If he is, the doctor should be completely aware of the apparent lack of development and you should not worry because she may just not want to share any concerns with you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Are you prepared to lose your friendship over your need to escalate the baby’s issues with your friend? Because if one pediatrician may have said something, and she’s in denial about anything being wrong, then she will probably drop you as a friend. It could be possible that she didn’t exercise the best prenatal care and is feeling guilty that there’s something wrong, and is in denial. Sometimes, all you can do is be ready with information and support if asked. It’s frustrating, I know, to sense something and feel you’re right and feel you can’t say something.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It sounds like he is developmentally behind and needs to be be seen by the pediatrician. Not even rolling over at 8 months is not normal.

MissAusten's avatar

@keobooks I used to work in daycare and believe me, it is nearly impossible to get a parent to see something they don’t want to see. Part of my job as a teacher was to assess a child’s development and refer the parent to resources when needed. Whether or not to listen to a mere daycare teacher’s opinion was up to the parents. This is totally anecdotal, of course, but the two times I had a child in my care showing signs of serious concerns (one infant and one toddler), the other teachers and I noticed problems before the parents. Not because they weren’t paying attention, but because denial can be such a powerful thing. Both children did get a diagnosis and all the help they needed. Bringing up the subject in the first place is tricky and could cost your friendship.

As others have said, “normal” is such a wide range for babies and young children that almost anything a kid does is normal. What concerns me most about your description of your friend’s baby is him not being able to roll over and not really interacting much with people around him. Sitting up is borderline for that age, but those other milestones seem way off. I would really, really hope the mother is discussing these things with the pediatrician.

Could you invite your friend to join some kind of baby play group? Maybe if she sees what other babies her son’s age are doing she will get a better idea of how infant development typically goes. You might not be able to tell her to talk to the doctor or get her to see that there could be a problem, but you may be able to lead her there. If you have other friends with young babies, invite them along when you go to the park or have a play date. First time parents are often clueless about developmental timelines in spite of all the books and resources available. My daughter reached all those milestones super early and we didn’t know how unusual that was until I started working with infants!

klutzaroo's avatar

It does sound like he needs to be evaluated, but I do have one question that I don’t think anyone asked. Is he a pudgy baby? Long? Big in any way? My friend’s child (now almost 2 and right on track) took quite some time to roll over and do other physical things because he’s a big kid and couldn’t get coordinated. There was too much to coordinate and one time she told me “That doctor just called my baby fat!” Lol! The reality is that his mother is like 5’10” and his father is well over 6’ and neither of them has anything like a slender build. He didn’t have a chance to not be a big boy.

The lack of non-physical milestones is concerning if he’s not engaging with other people or his mother. If he is doing non-physical things but isn’t to the point where he can do physical things maybe its not such a big deal.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m glad a few other people have also mentioned what I earlier referenced.

Kids can be all over the map in terms of physical stuff and still be within normal range.

But we are born as social animals. For a baby of that age to show minimal or no desire to interact with others is just not normal.

But since I haven’t personally seen the child, I’d be hesitant to say something is definitely a problem.

But lack of eye contact or social interaction is troubling.

robmandu's avatar

If it helps, here are some pics of my boy back when he was 8 months old.

He’s sitting up unassisted, crawling, playing with blocks, pulling himself up to stand, and enjoying his first candy.

keobooks's avatar

I know kids are all over the map in developmental levels, but he is different. I know other babies whose moms are claiming their kids aren’t or weren’t sitting up at 8 months, but they mean the babies aren’t or weren’t holding themselves up well. They were wobbly and fell down a lot, but they were able to sit with a little or a lot of support. That to me is within the normal range.

This baby can’t sit up AT ALL. Not even on your lap using your belly to prop himself up. Not with pillows. He can only sit up in one of those Bumbo bath chairs that forces the baby into a sitting position and they can’t fall over even if they tried. And he slumps in it.

I used to think that she was just weird because she always holds him in a newborn cradle position instead of slinging him over her shoulder on on her hip, but after watching him, I don’t think she can hold him that way because he doesn’t “help” her when she’s holding him. I don’t know how she manages him, because he flops over and slips out of her arms like a giant bar of soap if she doesn’t do it the right way.

After some sort of incident that she won’t talk about, she’s forbidden everyone but close family members to hold him because nobody can hold him the right way, according to her. I thought she was being overprotective, but I wouldn’t feel safe trying to hold him. I think he needs some neck support and some kind of support most people don’t give to a 20 pound almost toddler sized kid.

When I said he just lays on his back, I mean just that. He doesn’t wave his arms or legs around. He doesn’t reach for things. Whichever way his head rolls when she puts him down, that’s where it stays. When she does tummy time, she positions his head so he doesn’t lay flat on his face.

She used to be very social, but as he gets older, she does less and less with people outside her family. She’s getting cut off and I thnk it may be because of her son. Sometimes I wish that her son had some sort of disability with a name (a minor one, of course) so she could get in a support group or meet other moms who go through whatever it is she might be going through.

I also think she’d be more comfortable with her old friends if she could say.. look how well my son is doing even though he has <whatever>.

keobooks's avatar

@robmandu OMG those pics are adorable! How old is he now?

robmandu's avatar

Gee, thanks @keobooks. He’s very nearly 1 year old now.

I no longer think you’re asking about the developmental progress of your friend’s child… but instead are seeking confirmation and exhortation to confront your friend about an obvious problem that you’re afraid she’s denying.

Well, you’re her friend… so you should confront her. She might not actually be denying the problem herself, but just attempting to be discreet with what she feels is only a family issue. Like you said, you don’t really know how often she’s taken the kid in for well visits or the outcome of any medical diagnoses.

So, my suggestion is to give her the benefit of a doubt, respect her role as mother, and have an earnest discussion about what you’re seeing.

It’ll be tough. Wish you all the best of luck.

keobooks's avatar

Oh man, I asked one of those questions that I HATE. You know the type… someone asks for an opinion, but they already have one in their head and won’t listen to other people with different opinions. And all along they aren’t asking the question they thought they were really asking. Thanks for pointing this out. @robmandu.

I don’t know if I’d feel that comfortable talking about it. I think part of why I wanted to ask about it here is that I don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone at all about it, but whenever I see her, I can’t get the nagging thoughts out of my head. I am one of those people who talks all the time, and when there’s something I don’t feel safe to talk about, I HAVE to get it out. So I used fluther as a dumping ground.

Because my daughter is precocious, I don’t feel comfortable talking to other moms about developmental things—especially pointing out that some kid isn’t up to speed. It reminds me of when I was a kid with really bad ADHD, and my mom complained because other parents were constantly pointing out how weird and spacey I acted and were offering tips that my mom never asked for. I’ve never wanted to be one of those “Why can’t your kid be more like mine” moms.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think your concerns are valid. I think that if she is cutting herself off socially she is probably aware that her child is not developing as quickly as others. It is a very delicate subject over which you could lose your friendship. I do not think there is anything you can do but be there is support her. She will eventually either seek help or help will seek her out i.e. a doctor’s referral from a well baby. She may have already been told this and either changed doctors or stopped seeing them altogether because of it. You cannot force it. As long as you are not worried about the safety and care she is providing, just be there for her. Ask her about her doctor if you want to find out if she quit taking him. Eventually reality will hit her and I would hope you want to be there for support when it does.

snowberry's avatar

Could you ask her if she’s getting the baby his shots? Then from there, you could go on to talk about pediatricians, ask her if she likes hers, because you might be changing yours (even if you aren’t-just get her to talk about it). See how willing she is to talk about that stuff, and perhaps you can bring up something you’re concerned with your own child, what the doctor says you can expect regarding her/his future, etc. Perhaps a friendly chat like that would soften the topic a bit for you.

I do know a bit about what it’s like to miss those milestones. I spent the first 4–5 months of my life in intensive care. Back then, babies as sick as I was were not held much because they were more focused on keeping me alive, than working on developmental milestones, and they were worried that playing with me or cuddling, etc. would stress me more.

The result was that my body grew, but many of the neurological pathways were not properly laid at the right time. I did manage to speak, crawl and walk at about the right time, but it took me a very long time to mature socially because I just didn’t understand much of social interaction. (my mother even told me I didn’t bond with her when she finally did bring me home from the hospital at 6 months). My mom also tried to help me socialize, but I was a sickly child, and I suppose I missed a bunch of stuff I needed in early infancy. Bottom line, I was a bit of a social mess as a kid.

Now I am a grandmother. Recently I went through some therapy that helped restore much of what I missed, but before that, I felt things differently on different sides of my body. If I closed my eyes and stood still without touching anything, I had to take a step to keep from falling. My eye hand coordination was shot, I still have huge audio processing issues, my sense of smell does not work right, and I could go on and on. I have done quite a bit of research, and my only conclusion is these problems are due to the lack of those early milestones not being reached as an infant.

My point is that he appears to be missing (for whatever reason) those milestones. If he needs therapy, it must be started as soon as possible to gain him the most benefit.

snowberry's avatar

Anyone interested in the type of therapy I took to help restore my body- please PM me.

lynnwest's avatar

Hey! I just found your question when looking up my own son. My son is not crawling, sitting up on his own, or even rolling over. He does interact—one major difference. Also, he can be held against the hip/in front of you. However, his not crawling IS an issue with the doctor/pediatrician. One of their concerns is that he has “benign congenital hypotonia”. That means “non-life threatening, from birth, muscle weakness”. It’s about muscle tone.

This isn’t about comparing your daughter to her son…it’s not like you are coming across with a “my-daughter-is-better-than-your-son” approach. And like people said, it could well possibly be that the doctors HAVE noticed something. But maybe she is in denial, maybe she’s not. Maybe she’s already comparing your daughter to her son…maybe not. You won’t know until you talk to her. My question for you is this…would you want someone to talk to you about something that they’ve noticed in your child that they are concerned about? I am thankful that the doctors talked to me about my son, and that he is going to start therapy. Sure, confronting an issue about your child isn’t easy, but wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you? To have the courage just to mention something? Is it really “none of your business”? You know her….and you are a mother, too. If I were to talk to her, I would just be blunt…tell her your concerns as graciously as possible. Again, this isn’t about comparing…it’s just about expressing concern, and I don’t see a problem with that.

lynnwest's avatar

Here are some questions I was thinking of….

1. Is he on solid foods yet? Or is he still primarily breast/bottle fed.
2. Does he have issues when it comes to eating?
3. Does he roll on his side at all?
4. Does he reach out to grab at things?
5. How is his neck control?
6. If you hold him with one hand under his tummy, does he ever try to lift his head?

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