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When Does Head Control Develop In Babies?

5 min read

When your baby is born, he has no head control. This is because he has weak neck muscles and underdeveloped motor skills that are responsible for neck control. This means you need to be extra careful while carrying your baby, providing a lot of support to his head. As a new mother, you may be frantically browsing the net to know when your baby will develop head control. It might happen a lot sooner than you expect. This will be another exciting developmental milestone which will be noteworthy and beautiful. So continue reading to know about this important milestone.
head control in babies

When Can Babies Hold Their Head Up Without Support?

Your baby will mostly start to make unsuccessful gestures of lifting his head after four weeks. He will need a lot of head support during this time. During the second month, you will notice your baby trying to prop his head up in a wobbly manner during tummy time. It is only after four months that you baby is able to hold/ lift his head up without much head support. During this time, your baby will try to raise his head while on his back during tummy time and even prop his elbows in a cobra pose. By the time he reaches six months of age, your little one develops strong head and muscle control and can look from side to side.

How Will Babies Develop Head Control?

Your baby will gradually try to develop head control over the first 6 months. Your baby will go through different stages of head control and will master the same as he grows. Here’s what to expect during the first 6 months of your baby as far as this milestone is concerned:

Head Support For Newborns

A newborn baby’s neck muscles are weak so they will have no head control. They will rely on their mothers to support their head and neck while being carried. This is probably nature’s way of helping the mother and child bond by developing close face to face contact.

One To Two Months Babies Lifting Their Head

During these months babies begin lifting their head and are also able to turn to one side or the other. Once they complete two months, they will try and raise their head when on their back. Also when you carry your little one on your shoulder, he will begin holding up his head very shakily and also not for a very long time.

Head Control In Three to Four Months Babies

Once your little one reaches this age, he starts to lift his head right up to 45 degrees during tummy time and even hold his head steadily. By this age, he is ready to be carried around in a baby carrier. A simple exercise that will help his neck muscles become strong is by positioning him on his back and pulling him up with his hands in sitting position. Slowly ease his back. Repeat this a few times.

Steady Head Control In Five to Six Months Babies

Once your baby is around six months old, he can hold his head up steadily and erect. This is the time when most of the babies are able to sit without much support and hold their head up. Jogging strollers are ideal to be introduced at this stage.

How To Encourage Head Control In Babies?

There is not much that you can do to help your baby start developing head control. But in the initial months, you have to careful that you support your baby’s head and neck while you hold him. Make sure that you cradle your little one’s head each time you carry him, lift or hold him. You also need to exercise extreme caution till your baby develop proper head control. Try and see that the little one sleeps on his back most of the time. This is how you can encourage head control in babies:

  • Tummy time: Tummy time is very important to help your baby strengthen his back and neck muscles so that he can hold his head up on his own. For this put your little one on his stomach while he is awake and give him attractive toys to make tummy time fun for your baby. This will help to strengthen the muscles of his neck
  • Sit-up exercise: Once the little one is three months old, you can try to position him in a sitting posture on a sofa or your bed with adequate neck and head support. However, make it a point to never make him sit on the edge of the sofa or bed. Also never leave him unattended, as your baby may just topple over
  • Let them observe: Positioning him on your lap with his back resting against you is also a good way to help your little one develop head control as he grows. You can keep changing the spots where you sit so that your baby can see different things

head control

What If 3 Months -plus Babies Can’t Lift up Their Heads?

If you notice that your baby is not even slightly holding his head up even after he is 3 months old, just mention it to your pediatrician on your next visit. Just keep in mind that each baby develops skills differently so they will also be reaching the developmental milestones at different times. Some may attain these milestones more quickly than others. Head control is no different.
Also if you have a premature baby, he may reach this milestone a little later than a full-term baby. So there is nothing to panic, just go ahead and check with your pediatrician.

What Is Head Lag In Babies?

Rarely, babies can have head lag. It means babies have underdeveloped neck muscles. Head lag can be due to a number of reasons like low birth weight, preterm birth, or cerebral injury (Source)
Head lag can make it difficult for your baby to support himself. So by four months, if you see that your baby is not able to keep his head in line with his body when you pull him to sit position, then check with your pediatrician to ensure that your baby’s neck muscles are properly developing.

Why Is Head Control In Babies So Important?

Once your baby develops a good head control, he can move on to other milestones like sitting up, rolling over, crawling and walking. To starting solid foods and for sitting up in a highchair, it is essential that your baby has proper head control.
Go ahead and enjoy these wonderful and memorable milestones in your baby’s life.
When did your baby develop head control? What did you do to encourage your baby to develop head control? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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