Motor milestones: Head control

Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? Probably an experience you will never forget, right? Surely you remember your doctor, nurse, or mom telling you to be careful with his/her head. All newborns have little control of their heads because their neck muscles are weak and they haven’t developed the motor skills that will help them support their head. After a few months your baby will acquire this key ability!

One of the first and most important physical challenges your baby will face is learning to support his head and develop the neck muscle to do it. The acquisition of this skill is crucial since it will lay the foundation for other physical milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling, and walking. Moreover, your baby needs to be able to support his head before you introduce solids to his diet.

We know that each baby develops at their own pace and head control without a doubt will be a skill that your baby will acquire at his own time. However, it is important to understand the development of this ability and be able to identify any possible delays in his development.

Newborn:

Your baby’s neck muscles are fairly weak at birth so he will need your help to support his head while you hold him. At the end of the first month, your baby will be able to turn his head from one side to another while lying down. Usually, he will choose the side with more light or where you are.

1-2 months:

Your little one may lift his head for a few seconds during tummy time, and turn his head from side to side. Between 6 and 8 weeks, if your baby is strong enough, he may raise his head slightly while lying on his back. During these months your baby will be able to support and control the wobbling of his head while you holding him, however, it will only be for a while.

3-4 months:

During these months you will notice that your baby has more control over his head, he now can lift it 45 degrees and hold it upright when lying on his tummy. At this time your little one should not have trouble keeping his head aligned with the rest of his body when you hold him.

5-6 months:

At around 6 months, the muscles of his neck and neck control will be fully developed! So at this time, he will able to lift his head while lying down and support the weight of his head while sitting down as well. Once your baby can control his head he will be able to sit, roll, and crawl. So have the camera ready to record these wonderful milestones!

 

When should I worry?

If your baby is 3 months old and you notice that he is having trouble starting to support his head or cannot lift it even a little, make sure to mention it to your pediatrician on your next visit. If your baby is premature, he will need more time at each stage of development compared with his peers, but if you’re concerned do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician.

 


 

Want more information? Visit these websites:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/milestonemomentseng508.pdf
http://www.newkidscenter.com/When-Do-Babies-Hold-Their-Head-Up.html
http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a6579/developmental-milestones-head-control
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/infant-development/art-20048178

 

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