You’ll be amazed at all the physical changes that occur as your infant grows from a seemingly delicate newborn to an independent toddler. One of these will be an exciting development milestone to witness when your infant can hold her head up without your assistance, but when is it likely to occur?
Most newborns can lift their heads for a few seconds by two months. But it will take time and effort for your baby to hold her head up steadily for long periods. Most babies can keep their heads up well while sitting, supported by four months. By six months, most children can sit unaided for brief periods.
Before your baby can control their head, they must first develop the neck, chest, and arm muscles that will allow them to lift their head independently and use their forearms as support.
Giving your kid a few minutes of tummy time is the best approach to help them establish upper body strength. It will assist babies in developing the neck, chest, and arm muscles required for other gross motor tasks, including reaching, sitting, and crawling. Meanwhile, savor those first lovely moments when your baby lifts their head from the playmat.
By month’s end, a baby may be able to lift its head when placed on its tummy. By two months, the baby’s head control has improved, and they can hold their head at a 45-degree angle. At three months, you’ll notice the baby doing those adorable tiny push-ups as they raise to a 90-degree angle in preparation for crawling. By six months, your infant should have complete control of their head.
How Does Your Baby Develop the Strength to Hold Its Head Up?
Your baby will progressively gain the strength required to erect its head as they grow. Around two months old, you may notice that they can raise their head for a few seconds at a time while lying on their tummy. These few moments aid in the strengthening of their neck muscles. They will eventually gain control of the forces in the front of their neck, leading to total head and neck control.
However, it is important to remember several definitions of normal regarding this achievement.
Some babies have more muscular necks at birth, while others take longer to develop the requisite muscle strength. Here are some of the different indicators for head development.
Stage 1: Early Head Raises During Tummy Time
A baby’s ability to lift its head is limited in the early stages of life. However, this swiftly changes, with some babies developing as early as one month old.
These minor head lifts, which do not imply complete head control, are most noticeable while your infant sleeps on their tummy. You may sense them, for example, if your baby is lying on your chest or shoulder while you are burping them or snuggling up together.
You may see your baby attempting to lift their head high enough to turn from one side to the other if you have introduced tummy time. This technique is necessary for future head control, but it also helps build the surrounding muscles in the shoulders, arms, and back, aiding your baby’s mobility later.
Although a newborn baby may not be interested in an activity or play mat at this time, it is beneficial to lay your baby down on its tummy for a few minutes at a time, several times per day. (Make sure to stay with your baby during the tummy session to prevent them from falling asleep this way.)
Tummy time is also done by lying your infant face down on your chest, lap, or stomach. Some newborns prefer this since they can still see your face and interact with you more closely.
Stage 2: Lifting Head and Chest
A newborn often begins lifting its head more frequently (usually reaching a 45-degree angle) between one to three months of age and may be able to levitate its chest partially off the floor.
Your baby’s vision has advanced to the point where the activity mat may be more enticing than during the first month.
They like geometric patterns and black-and-white patterns, so an eye-catching rug or blanket can serve the same purpose as an exercise mat at this point.
You can also wish to provide incentives for the baby’s activities by placing a toy or other desirable object just out of reach. You can even lie on the floor next to your kid and pay attention to them.
It is also excellent to start modestly supporting your baby’s tummy time with a baby blanket or a pillow (again, under your supervision). A little extra help — and a clearer view of what’s around them — can sometimes motivate babies to keep practicing lifting their heads on their own.
Your infant will eventually start pushing themselves off the floor with their arms as a forerunner to crawling. At this point, kids can usually levitate their chest entirely and maintain their head level at a 90-degree angle for short periods. In other words, be wary of the inevitable wobbles!
Stage 3: Full Head Control
Most babies have grown enough strength in their neck and upper body by six months to hold their heads up with minimum effort. They can typically swivel their heads from side to side and quickly up and down.
Suppose you believe your baby has some assistance in establishing head control. In that case, there are a few things you can incorporate into your routine to encourage them to continue training those muscles:
- Please spend some time with your infant sitting upright on your lap or propped up on a breastfeeding pillow, enabling your infant to practice keeping their head up while a safety net supports their back.
- Even if they aren’t eating complete meals, put them in a high chair for short periods. I will also assist them while encouraging them to keep their heads straight and level. Check that they are correctly strapped in and that the seat is fixed at a 90-degree angle rather than reclined.
- Consider wearing your infant in a carrier that allows you to breastfeed and position them upright while out getting things or going on a walk.
- The world is fascinating; if allowed, Most babies will want to sit up and look around! Ensure that your baby carrier is sized correctly, selected, and worn to limit the risk of harm.
- Position your baby on their back on an activity mat with an arch or other hanging element. Your infant will instinctively reach up for what they see, building the muscles in their neck, back, and shoulders.
What if Your Baby Isn’t Able to Hold His Head Up Yet?
Because each kid is unique, it is normal for some newborns to develop sooner or later than others. However, if you believe your kid hasn’t mastered head and neck control by four months, you should consult with his doctor.
It will fill you with pride and excitement to see your baby accomplish each developmental milestone. Improved head and neck control is only one benefit you can expect. Your kid will crawl, walk, talk, and do much more.
Baby Head Control Milestones by Month
Of course, each infant develops at its own pace, so these rules are only guidelines. But, in general, here’s what to expect month by month if you’re wondering when babies start lifting their heads:
0 – 1 month
Infants cannot hold their heads up alone throughout the first month of life, and they must be cradled and have neck support when feeding, burping, or being held. Regardless, it is recommended that you begin “tummy time” with your newborn as early as two weeks old. It will help their muscles improve your baby’s neck if done regularly. It is appropriate at this age to lay baby facedown on your stomach or chest rather than on the floor. It has the added benefit of bonding with the baby and offering tummy time!
1 – 2 months
Babies begin to build the muscles that will allow them to lift their heads to a 45-degree angle when lying on their tummies at one month, and they should be able to tilt their heads from side to side at this point. If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to begin introducing tummy time into your baby’s daily routine, as they will start to notice brightly colored (or black and white) patterns and shapes.
3 – 4 months
Babies prepare to crawl at this age by lifting their head and chest off the ground at a 90-degree angle. If they haven’t started doing this, don’t panic; it will happen eventually. However, if you want to assist them, you can do the following:
- Place the newborn on their back and slowly bring their hands up until they sit upright. Take it carefully, as an infant’s ability to control head motions is often delayed. These “sit-ups” are a fantastic approach to strengthening the neck muscles.
- Place the newborn upright in the center of a Boppy cushion for support and a secure landing if they fall backward. This position should always be supervised.
- Keep them upright in your lap as you play and read with the baby. Holding the newborn outward or over your forearm can also aid in developing strong neck muscles.
Although the answer to the question of when babies hold their heads up varies significantly between babies, The baby’s head movement should be encouraged by five to six months. As you practice baby pull-ups, he should be able to keep his head aligned or even crane his neck forward, and many babies can hold a fully upright seating position at this age as well. Aside from pull-ups, try the following activities with your baby to continue developing the important neck muscles required by your baby to reach upcoming milestones.
How to Help Neck Development
Here are some examples of things you may do with your infant to help them strengthen muscles in their necks, shoulders, and upper back arms:
- Cross your baby’s arms (as if folding them on a desk) and gently prop their chin up with them during tummy time. This position will allow them to practice controlling the baby’s head.
- Place your baby on an activity mat tummy-down and get down on the floor next to them. When you talk to them or share toys, notice how they lift their heads and turn toward the sound of your voice. Perform this for two to three minutes, progressively increasing the time each week.
- As an alternative to tummy time, try utilizing an exercise ball. Slowly roll your infant back and forth across an exercise ball (while keeping a hand on them at all times, of course). They’ll like the soothing motion, which might even assist with newborn gas issues.
When to be Concerned if Your Baby is Not Lifting their Head?
If your baby isn’t lifting their head by four months old, then do not be concerned! Continue to keep in contact with your pediatrician. Sometimes, not being able to hold up their head can be a sign of a delay in development or movement. On the extreme, it might also indicate cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or other disorders affecting the nerves and muscles.
Remember, every newborn develops at its own pace; some pick up specific skills faster or slower than others. If you are concerned, your pediatrician is your best resource, and they would likely recommend occupational therapy and other early intervention services.
Final Thought When Do Babies Start Lifting Their Head
There isn’t a specific age during which a baby should be able to hold its head, and every baby progresses at its own pace.
Everything your baby does, whether it’s reaching for toys or lifting their lead off a play mat, or making eye contact with you during a burping session, they’re doing it to prepare for future milestones.
If your baby’s progress concerns you, talk to your pediatrician at your next well visit. They can reassure you or give you the information and tools you need to address your baby’s growth.