Having a baby is a source of immense joy for parents. It also comes with mixed emotions where you are still trying to grasp the magnanimity of the situation; at times it will leave you happy and scared as you try to comprehend how to cradle a being so small and delicate.
When holding newborns, make sure you support their head and neck till they learn to control it on their own.
When Do Babies Learn Head Control?
A baby reaches many developmental milestones in its first year. Babies have weak neck muscles, so it takes some months for these muscles to strengthen. Once the muscles are strong enough, babies can control their head and neck comfortably. They can then sit, crawl, roll over, and stand eventually.
Most babies develop a little head control by the end of the first month or even quicker. They can then hold the head up when lying on the stomach for a brief period initially. Observe your baby’s head control and provide support till the time he or she gains it completely.
Baby Head Control Milestones During the First Six Months
Newborns learn head control gradually, and they go through different stages before they can master it. Here is how your baby should control its head during the first six months:
1. 1 to 2 Months
Neck muscles start to develop after the first month. This is when your baby will lie on the stomach and start moving its head slightly to look around. By the time your baby is 6-8 weeks old, he or she will start lying on the back and try to raise its head off the bed.
Although your baby can hold its head for a short period when you are carrying him or her, it is important to support the head and neck to prevent injuries.
2. 3 to 4 Months
The neck muscles become sturdier during this time, and your little one gains better control over the head. This helps the easy movement of the head from side-to-side when sitting or lying down.
3. 5 to 6 Months
During this period, the neck muscles develop fully, and your baby will be able to sit without assistance and hold its head up easily. Your little one’s head won’t wobble anymore when they try to look around.
Like every other development milestone, some babies develop good head control sooner than the others, and it is normal. So, do not worry when you compare your baby’s development with other newborns.
How Can You Help?
While neck muscle development takes some time, here are some ways you can help your baby gain better head control:
1. Tummy Time
Lying on the tummy once or twice a day will help your baby gain head control faster. It will encourage them to lift their head higher to look around. However, do not leave the child unattended during tummy time.
2. Simple Exercises
When your baby is about four months old, you can make them sit with some support on the sides and the back to keep the head in line with the body. This helps them gain control over the head and neck sooner.
A Word of Caution
Baby’s neck muscle development takes time, so it is crucial that you support your little one’s head and neck properly for the initial six months while lifting them from the bed and also while carrying them around. Avoid strollers, swings, and bouncers without proper head support.
While problems with head control are rare, it’s wise to keep an eye on your baby’s progress and consult a paediatrician if needed.