Lifting Head And Neck Development In Babies

Following are some explanations about how and when a baby develops enough neck strength to hold up his head.

Nothing brings more joy to our lives than the birth of a new baby. In spite of the sleepless nights, extra expense and having our schedules completely turned upside down, brand new moms and dads thrill at the sight, smell and sound of their new little treasure. Every new parent is instructed at the hospital about the basic care for their newborn, but often we get home and wonder just exactly what we are supposed to expect when. We know the tiny infant cannot hold his head up at first, and we know he eventually will, but when? Following are some explanations about how and when a baby develops enough neck strength to hold up his head.

When babies are born, their heads are disproportionately larger than their bodies and their back and neck muscles are limp and weak after having been curled up inside the womb. During the first month of life, babies begin to lift their heads a little, slowly beginning the strengthening process for the neck muscles. When babies lie on their tummies, they naturally try to raise their heads and look around. Over time, they will instinctively begin to push up with their arms as well, and lift both their heads and chest off the floor. At around two months of age, most babies can control their head movement and have strengthened their neck muscles enough to hold their heads up with no problem. And by about four months of age, most babies are able to push up off the floor with their hands for several moments at a time.

Parents can help their baby progress at a normal rate by making sure baby spends time on his tummy each day. Many of us have become so mobile and busy that our baby ends up sitting in a swing, infant carrier or car seat for much of the day. While this is convenient for us, it can delay natural progress for our babies. Parents must make a concentrated effort to give their babies the necessary exercise each day that will help them gain strength in their necks, chests, and arms.

One thing parents can do to encourage neck strengthening is, beginning at about 1 month of age, lie baby on the floor on his tummy while you lie on the floor facing him. Talk to him, sing to him, and if he does try to lift his head, praise him. It is only necessary to do this for a few minutes at a time, as a tiny baby will soon tire. This is in no way a means of pushing a baby beyond his limits; rather, it is more a reminder for you to take some time each day to put baby on his tummy, and to give you a little break, as well. Also remember to give baby time each day on both his sides; again, he will instinctively try to lift his head and move. If these gentle exercises are done in tiny segments each day, slowly your baby will begin to lift his head, and by six months of age, he'll probably be sitting up and perhaps even crawling. That's when the real fun begins!

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