When your newborn arrives, all your love seems to be wrapped up in a squirmy package, especially because newborn head control is limited. But, you’re probably eager to see him lift his head and gaze into your adoring eyes! Get the ABCs on how your little one will grow to control his noggin, from an average child development timeline to when to be concerned.
Child development timeline
Have patience — head control takes practice. At birth, your newborn will need you to help cradle his neck and head, offering primo bonding time as he explores his new world outside the womb.
By your newborn’s two month mark, he will likely lift his head and look side to side while on his stomach, responding to sound. He’ll shakily lift his head from your shoulder and get a peek around for brief moments at a time.
At the end of four months, your newborn is becoming a master of head control, raising his noggin when on his belly for a steady gaze into your smiling face. By your sweetie pie’s six month birthday, steadily holding his own dome like a pro is a sure sign your youngster has hit this child development milestone.
How to help your newborn develop head control
- Be supportive. As you eagerly await interaction with your bundle of joy, be mindful of his floppy head which needs support until he gains full head control. Using your hands or the crook of your arm, fully support his head and neck and avoid any jarring movements during the first few months of life.
- Engage in tummy time. Your newborn’s natural instinct will be to raise his head and strengthen his neck to get a good look around. But don’t be alarmed if your little one fusses during tummy time — many babies do not care for the extra work, but it’s vital to his child development!
- Play neck-strengthening games. While lying on his back, slowly pull him up by his hands to a sitting position. Then gently return him to the original lying position. Whether or not you sing Row Your Boat is up to you!
- Sit him up. From four to six months of age, your child will be ready for a new perspective of his surroundings, so set him in a sitting position, either in a supportive seat like a Bumbo — but never on an elevated surface — or on your lap with your help.
When to be concerned
Around three months of age, if there has been no sign of your newborn attempting to life his head, be sure to discuss it with your pediatrician at your child’s next well baby checkup. “The main reasons that lack of head control causes concerns in a three-month-old child is because the senses not organizing properly,” explains Michelle M. Turner, Movement Integration Specialist of MovementLesson.com.
“All are senses are in twos: eyes, nose, ears, arms/hand and mouth/anus. The head is pivotal in this relationship. Whether a child has low or high tone, when muscle function interrupts the skeletal system from functioning properly, learning is immediately inhibited.”
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