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When do babies start holding their head up?

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It’s so fun to watch your baby hit new milestones! If you’re a first time mom, every little change will be super exciting. Your camera roll will probably stay full!

One of the first milestones for baby is being able to hold up their head.

If you’re wondering when you should expect this new development, I’ve got you covered!

Baby holds his head up while laying on a bed.

When can babies hold their heads up?

Babies should hit this milestone by the 6 month mark. They’ll be building up to this big step from birth and you’ll typically start to see bigger strides around 3-4 months.

At 6 months, babies are usually able to lift their heads with minimal effort and should be able to turn from side to side and up and down.

What can I do to help?

You can encourage your baby to meet this milestone with short and easy exercises and strategic play.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

For Newborns

Be sure to have regular tummy time. Let baby lay on her tummy for short amounts of time during the day to encourage her to lift her head.

Baby may poke her head up in short bursts or long enough to turn her head from one side of the other.

1-3 Months

From 1-3 months, your baby will be stronger and should start to hold their head up for longer stretches. They’ll probably hit about a 45 degree angle and may be able to slightly lift their chest as well. Baby’s vision is now also more pronounced.

Use this to your advantage by placing enticing items just out of their reach and using an interactive playmat.

You can also introduce a small pillow or nursing pillow during tummy time to intensify strength building.

As baby gets closer and closer to the 6-month mark, they will be able to push their head and chest up for longer periods of time and get closer to the 90-degree mark when holding up their head.

They’ll also begin making precursor moves towards crawling.

3-6 Months

As baby’s strength increases, give them more and more opportunities to stretch themselves while safely supervised. Here are some activities to try in order to obtain complete head control:

  • Wear your baby in a carrier. This will give baby practice holding up her held while still receiving support. She’ll also be at a higher vantage point than normal, which will entice her to move her head around.
  • Let baby spend some supervised time in a high chair. Make sure he’s sitting at a 90 degree angle and not reclined. This is another great way for baby to practice while still receiving head support.
  • Hold your baby upright against your body when possible. You’ll be baby’s safety net while you continue to support their back.
  • Invest in an activity mat with hanging features. Lay baby on her back and let her try to reach the objects and encourage her to move her head from side to side.

Important Precautions

Newborns need lots of head support and babies under six months still need help, too. Be sure to cradle their heads any time they are lifted or put down. Keep a firm hand on their back and neck when walking around with them and be sure to hold them securely when burping.

Never use pillows or props in their crib or leave them unsupervised when lounging on a pillow. And remember, you don’t need to add anything extra to baby’s crib or car seat for support. This could harm them!

When should I be concerned?

All babies develop at their own pace and these milestone markers are generalized parameters for what most babies achieve in a certain amount of time.

If baby isn’t lifting her head by 4 months, she’s likely fine, but you should still set an appointment with your doctor or bring it up at her next checkup to ensure there isn’t an underlying cause.

Missing a milestone can indicate a developmental or motor delay and can be reflective of a neuromuscular disorder.

Remember to have fun and be patient with yourself and your baby. You’ll both be doing a lot of learning together. Continue to lean on friends and learn from other moms who’ve been there.

Here are even more tips for the fist time mom, including smart newborn baby hacks, the best newborn sleep tips, must have newborn items, and ideas for monthly baby photos!