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When does a baby develop head control?

baby on his tummy smiling

Key Points:

  1. Supporting the head and developing neck muscles is a crucial physical milestone for babies. It lays the foundation for other physical milestones and is necessary before introducing solids into their diet.
  2. Babies develop head control at their own pace, but it’s important to understand the milestones and identify any delays in development.
  3. Babies typically start by turning their head from side to side on their own, then lifting their head during tummy time, and eventually supporting and controlling their head while sitting, rolling, and crawling.
  4. If a baby is having trouble supporting their head or cannot lift it at all, it’s important to mention it to their pediatrician. Premature babies might need extra time to achieve these milestones.

Do you remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? It was probably an experience you will never forget, right? Surely you remember your doctor, nurse, or mom telling you to be careful with their head. All newborns have little control of their heads because their neck muscles are weak and they haven’t developed the motor skills needed to support their head. So, when do babies start holding their head up? Keep reading!

One of the first and most important physical challenges your baby will face is learning to support their head and develop the neck muscles 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 their head before you introduce solids into their diet.

When do babies start holding their head up

We know that each baby develops at their own pace, and head control will be, without a doubt, a skill that your baby will acquire in time. However, it is important to understand the development of this ability and be able to identify any possible delays in development. That’s why next you will find the skills your baby will be acquiring as they grow.


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

1-2 months

Between the 4 and 12 weeks, your little one may lift their head for a few seconds during tummy time, and turn their head from side to side. And between 6 and 8 weeks, if your baby is strong enough, they may raise their head slightly while lying on their back. During these months, your baby will be able to support and control the wobbling of their head while you hold them, however, it will only be for a while.

3-4 months

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

5-6 months

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

What happens if my baby does not support their head? 

If your baby is three months old and you notice that they’re having trouble supporting their 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, they will need more time at each stage of development compared with their peers, but if you’re concerned do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician. 

Now you know when babies start holding their head up! If you want more details about how head control develops month by month, make sure to check out our series about this topic here.  


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