6 Doctor-recommended Tips to Mould Your Baby's Head and Help Him Support His Head
9 mins read
Physical development for Baby
Babies are super-delicate little human beings, from their tiny heads down to their tiny toes! When you watch them sleeping, their little heads seem so fragile. It seems hard to believe that they will ever be able to lift their head confidently and move it with energy. But of course, they will! As per paediatricians, there are certain activities you can do on a regular basis that will make your baby's head control much stronger!
Before you focus on your baby's head control, it is important to check whether your baby's head is shaped properly or not. Passing through the birth canal sometimes tends to shape babies' heads in an uneven manner. While this may sound alarming, it is quite normal and can be easily fixed using some activities, like changing your baby's sleeping position to sideways. This will allow a baby’s head to rest on both the sides and get evenly shaped. You should also ensure that a newborn's head is supported at all times, with no undue pressure from any source such as the bed or the crib.
Once your baby's head shape is moulded, it is time to help him lift it - gently. Your baby turns to you for support as he learns new things, such as the newfound knowledge that he can move his head if he tries! Teaching your child to lift his head is important for his overall development, including muscular strength, hand-eye coordination, as well as cognitive growth simply from seeing the world from all sides.
When Do Babies Hold Their Heads
Babies start holding their heads up slowly as they grow. Their muscle strength improves gradually, month by month. Know by what age babies start holding their heads up:
At this time, your newborn has minimum head control. His motor skills are under-developed and he has insufficient neck muscle strength. So, during this time your infant completely relies on you to support his head and neck. As parents, you must support his head the best you can at this time, during feeding, sleeping, while carrying him, and even in other activities of the day.
In the second month (between six to eight weeks), your infant can turn his head sideways. He even tries to lift it a bit! However, at this point, your baby can’t lift his head for a significantly long time and you shouldn't pressurise him to do this. His neck muscles are still quite weak.
Now is the time! As your baby turns 3 months old, you can observe a significant development in his neck muscle strength and head controlling power. Around this time, your baby can lift his head to 45 degrees steadily. However, your baby is yet to gain complete control over his head movement as his muscle strength is still not adequate. This is the best time to start helping your baby develop head control; he needs your help and will benefit from it now.
By the time your little one turns 5 to 6 months old, you have an (almost) expert head controller and lifter! A lot of babies can lift their heads upright by now and hold it longer than before. This means you can also hold your baby straight without supporting his neck and head now.
By this age, your baby will have learnt the art of controlling his head quite well. You should continue to practise the activities mention below to help him further and to spot any abnormalities in time. If your baby still has problems with his head movement, it could be due to an underlying issue in his neck muscles. You should discuss this with your paediatrician.
6 Tips To Boost Baby's Head Control
Now that you know the kind of head movement you can expect in your baby with time, it's time to help him along! With just a little boost from your side, your baby can lift his head all by himself.Depending on your baby's age group, start doing the following doctor-approved activities at home. It is best to wait until your baby is at least 2 months old so he has adequate strength to learn and grow quickly.
Toys On Either Side
What you have to do:
Select some bright coloured toys.
Place these toys on either side of your infant when he is lying in his crib. He will be tempted turn his neck sideways to look at them.
Every now and then, change your baby's position to help him turn his head to the less favoured side.
Alternately, you can also play music on either side so your infant turns his head in the direction of the music.
Eventually, this activity will teach your baby to turn his head from side-to-side. He will develop good neck muscle strength and this will finally help him lift his head.
Tip: You can do this even for your 1-2-month-old infant. He has weak muscle strength and lacks the required strength for lifting his head. This little activity will help him improve his neck muscle strength.
It is best to do this exercise when your baby feels comfortable lying on layers of soft, non-slippery towels.
What to do:
Place a baking sheet filled with water with an appropriate temperature in front of your infant’s head.
Add some fun floating toys to the baking sheet.
Your baby will enjoy the sight of toys floating on the water and will try lifting his head.
He may also attempt to reach the water and toys by making hand movements which helps improve his hand-eye coordination.
Along Your Knees
This one is very special. Doctors suggest that giving your child tummy time by placing his chin between your knees and his tummy along your thighs, promotes a sense of wellness and happiness - for both you and your baby. So, if your infant doesn’t like to lie on his tummy on the floor, you can make your baby lie along your thighs on his tummy, with his chin between your knees. This will encourage your baby to look at your face, and he will try lifting his head up. This can be done by you, your husband or any other family member as well to promote some terrific bonding!
Finally, this suggestion is for when your baby is about 3 to 6-months-old. This will improve his neck muscle strength and help him gain head control.
What you have to do:
Place your baby in a sitting position with ample head and neck support.
Use your hands or pillows to provide baby’s neck, head, and back good support.
Make your baby sits with support, at different spots in your home. This means he will keep trying to lift his head to discover new areas of the home.
Just make sure that you give your complete attention when he is in a sitting position, as his muscles are still developing and he needs support.
Baby Head Control Exercises
Babies have weak muscles when they are born, but with right exercise, their muscle strength can develop.
What you have to do:
Gently, hold your baby’s neck and turn it one side in a way that his chin touches his shoulder.
Hold him and slowly stretch his neck, it will strengthen his neck muscles too.
You can also try peanut ball exercise; place the ball in a room and hold the baby on the top of the ball with his belly on it, move the ball forward and backwards while holding your baby. As you do it, he will hold his head and neck upright, which will develop his neck muscles.
There is no replacement to this when it comes to moulding your baby's head and helping him lift it. Doctors recommend that tummy time is an absolute must for infants to both mould their head shape and strengthen their head control.
What you have to do:
Place your infant on his tummy.
Put some colourful, sound making toys in front of his head.
Encourage him to raise his head and chest to watch them.
You can do this activity while your baby is on the bed or on your chest. Placing him close to you is a good way of making him feel secure and connected to you.
Letting your baby have sufficient tummy time every day helps strengthen his neck muscles substantially. These babies have been seen to develop head control much faster than babies who go without tummy time.
WATCH: 5 Tummy Time Moves for Babies
Find out how tummy time moves is a great activity to improve your baby’s control:
Tummy to tummy: Place your baby’s tummy against yours. Use your hands to keep your baby stable. This position will develop his neck muscles. Slowly, by 3 months of age, he will lift his head up.
Eye level smile: Lay your baby on the bed, and position yourself in front of him. Take a toy in your hand and move it from one side to another, as this will encourage head turning in him.
Lap Soothe: Place your baby across your legs by keeping one of your knees higher to ensure his chest and knees are high. This way he will try to raise his head.
Tummy-down carry: Support your baby’s tummy with one hand and the other supporting his head. He will slowly elevate his head.
Tummy minute: Tummy minute can be done while changing his diapers. Place your baby on his tummy and keep a rolled blanket under his chest and upper arms. As his chest will be propped up, he will lift his head up.
So mommies, the next time you see your infant trying to raise his head all by himself, become his partner in his journey! These little activities can really help your infant develop head control and lift his head with time - and you'll never even be able to fathom how he grew up so fast!
How did you teach your baby to lift his head? Do share your experience with fellow moms by leaving a comment below.