At what age does a baby hold its head?

The psychomotor development of the child is monitored from birth by the pediatrician. “There are big steps that all children have to go through at about fixed ages,” says Dr. Julie Salomon, a pediatric physician. “Hold your head” is one of these steps!

When can a baby hold its head?

What exactly does it mean, “hold your head”? “At birth, the newborn is hypotonic at the level of his back and his head: clearly, if we put him in a sitting position, he falls down since he does not have the muscle tone necessary to stand straight and keep his head straight,” describes Dr. Julie Salomon.

In particular, the newborn is not sufficiently muscular at the level of his neck and upper back to lift his head alone, the weight of which is extremely high (in proportion to the rest of his body).

“From the first month of life, the baby is able to lift his head briefly (for only a few seconds) when he is lying on his stomach,” explains the pediatrician. Hence the interest of regularly laying the infant on his stomach, “during his awakening times and only a few minutes, spread over the whole day” recommends Dr. Julie Salomon. On the other hand, it is recalled that, to sleep, babies must be laid on their back, in order to reduce as much as possible the risk of unexpected infant death syndrome (SIDS), the new name of sudden infant death syndrome!

At the age of 2 months, “the baby is able to lift his shoulders,” says Dr. Solomon. Finally, it is around the age of 3 months that the baby is supposed to “hold his head”: “In plain language, when you carry him upright against you, his head stays upright, it does not go back or forward. The child controls the position of his head.” If the baby does not “hold his head” at the age of 3 months, additional tests may be prescribed by the pediatric doctor.

Can we help her baby hold her head?

Careful! “Before the age of 3 months, it is essential to properly support your baby’s head when you lift it, because it is not capable of doing so itself!” warns the pediatrician. Thus, during walks, during the bath, during games, at bedtime… always make sure to have a hand under your child’s neck in order to properly support his head. “Pay attention to certain carrying tools (carrying scarves, baby carriers…) that do not necessarily support the baby’s head,” adds the doctor.

It is also extremely important to avoid head movements that are too fast and/or too abrupt: “the risk, especially with a head-to-back movement, is to damage nerves that emerge from the spinal cord, with consequences that can be dramatic for the child,” Dr. Julie Salomon says. Of course, there is the terrible shaken baby syndrome…

How can I help her baby hold her head? From the age of 1 month, when the child is lying on his stomach, the pediatrician advises “to place the awakening toys (those which make noise, light, which are very colorful… like rattles) on the side of his head, in order to encourage him to turn this one”. Moreover, “scratching a baby’s lower back when he is lying on his stomach encourages him to raise his head: it’s a fun game and conducive to psychomotor development!”

Careful! “Each child evolves at his own pace! Don’t put pressure on yourself, and don’t put pressure on your child for their psychomotor development,” Dr. Salomon advises. ‘Age levels’ are merely indicators to which we must refer flexibly: there is no question of sticking strictly to the figures!

“Spontaneously, the baby will look to raise his head and shoulders, especially to look around him. It is not necessarily necessary to stimulate it so that it “holds its head”: it comes on its own, it is a natural stage of the child’s development,” adds the pediatrician.

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