Newborn developmental milestones: Learning head and neck control. Before any other significant movement milestones, gaining neck and head control needs to be achieved by your baby.
your baby is a newborn, they have very little neck control and are unable to
support their own head, so it’s very important to make sure you support them
properly when holding them. Some babies are curious straight away and will want
to look around at everything. Others may be more restful and let their mobility
in this area develop more naturally over time.
any other significant movement milestones, gaining neck and head control needs
to be achieved by your baby. It’s a really important development stage, and is
the starting point of many other development milestones – sitting up, crawling
should I hold my baby to support their neck and head?
your baby develops the ability to hold up their own head and support their
neck, it is very important that you support their head with your hands, and
hold them correctly.
best way to support your newborn baby’s head is to gently cradle your baby’s head in your hand while holding them, or
to make sure your baby’s head is supported by your arm when holding them, if
you are sitting down. When lifting your baby, always make sure you have a hand
behind their head, cupping and supporting the weight of their head before you lift
sure you correctly carry and hold your baby is important at these early stages
to prevent injury and harm to your baby including suffocation, brain damage and
severe neck or spinal injury.
When will my baby start supporting their own head?
This is one of the first movement milestones you will
see your baby achieve, and normally happens relatively quickly. By about 3 months babies will have
developed sturdier neck muscles, and be looking around their environment and
looking for you more. It can take babies up to 6 months to fully develop the
muscles and control of these muscles to hold their head upright unsupported on
their own, and move their head around.
As with all the other development milestones, every baby
can be slightly different and it’s important not to compare too much with other
mothers and babies, and to let your baby develop at their own pace.
What are the stages of my baby developing their neck and
There are different signs to look out for, that will let
you know your baby is developing their neck and head control:
1. Newborn – As mentioned above, when your baby is a newborn (0-1 months)
they have very weak weak muscles and are not capable of supporting their own
head. It’s important to make sure you support their head while holding them.
2. One-Two Months – after about a month you will notice that your baby’s neck
muscles are starting to strengthen and your baby will start looking around
their environment, and looking for you when they hear your voice, especially
when lying on their tummy. By two months, your baby may even be strong enough
to lift their head a little when laying on their back. At two months they may
also try and lift their head and look around when you are carrying them upright
against your shoulder.
3. Three-Four Months – it’s around this time that you’ll probably notice a big jump
in your babies neck control and their ability to hold their head up. You’ll
notice that your baby has improved neck control and is very comfortable lifting
their head for prolonged amounts of time while lying on their stomach.
4. Five-Six Months – by six months your baby should have good control of their
neck muscles and be comfortable holding their head upright and supporting
themselves to look around their environment. You’ll notice that your baby is no
longer wobbly when trying to control and move their head and they will have
much steadier control when looking around.
How can I help my baby learn to sit on their own?
Babies are naturally very curious so you probably won’t
have to do too much to encourage them to start looking around and developing
their neck and head control!
As discussed, it’s important to let your baby develop
naturally and find their own way when developing as this will encourage them to
keep progressing through their development milestones. A couple of things you
can do to help support your baby’s development with their neck control include:
1. Plenty of Tummy Time – it can’t be stressed enough how crucial tummy time is for your
babies mobility development. Plenty of tummy time encourages their development
in all sorts of ways – strengthening their torso, legs, back and arm muscles –
as well as those neck muscles! When starting with tummy time make sure your
baby is comfortable and safe, and if they’re not keen, try different pillows
and toys to help soothe and encourage them.
2. Try a few games - Something to try when your baby is around the 4 -5 month mark to
help develop their neck muscles is to place your baby on their back and to then
gently and slowly pull them up into a sitting position by their arms. Gently
lower your baby back down and repeat – try making silly faces at your baby as
you do this to it fun. At this age they should be able to hold their head in
time with their body as you lift and lower them.
3. Encourage and Support them – smile and verbally encourage your baby! This support from you
can really help them to keep progressing with their development.
What should I do if my baby doesn’t start to lift their
head on their own?
All babies develop differently; the main thing is to
make sure your baby is alert, curious and attempting to move in new ways.
When it comes to developing their neck and head control,
babies tend to respond quick well to their environments. For babies who have
older siblings, you might find they develop their neck muscles quite quickly,
as they try to look around and keep up with their siblings. Babies, who are
born prematurely, may take longer to develop – and this is all perfectly
If by three months, your baby has not attempted to start
moving their head and controlling their neck muscles, or they seem to
particularly struggling, make sure you speak with your doctor or midwife who
can reassure you and carry out extra tests if needed.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.