At what age can babies hold their heads?

Every day in your child’s life is a discovery. Seeing him move his arms and the sounds he makes to try to communicate with you fills you with emotion and many doubts. His movements raise many questions, and one of them is at what age babies can hold their heads and how you can help.

The first weeks of children’s lives are very important; they develop in surprising ways. They begin to acquire skills and movements that emerge very quickly; this is called “motor development”.

The motor development of children begins with the head and progresses little by little through the body. Gross motor skills are the big movements that your little one makes, allowing them to move, generate balance and then be able to walk, explains Cecilia Aguilar, a child neurologist.

“Motricity develops little by little; in the first two months, the baby manages to hold his head as you stimulate him. Massages are very important. At three months, he begins to roll over in bed. At four months, they begin to sit. Between six and seven months, they manage to sit up, so they can eat more things”.

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Motor development begins with the head. Photo: Pixabay
Motor development begins with the head. Photo: Pixabay

Motor development begins with the head. Photo: Pixabay

Your baby’s movements will be given little by little until he develops enough strength in his muscles. You must help him move with games. The American Academy of Pediatrics details what the baby’s movements are like:

  • First month: Babies cannot control many movements; they can move their heads to the sides to look for their mother’s breast. They don’t have good neck control, so they need your help to hold their head.
  • Two months: Most children can lift their heads when lying on their stomachs; frequently, putting babies in this position help strengthen their neck and trunk.
  • Four months: There is greater strength in the neck muscles; they can now hold their head.

Dr. Sydney Greenawalt, a pediatrician who graduated from the National Institute of Pediatrics, explains that by the fourth month, in addition to controlling their heads, babies can keep their eyes fixed, smile, and bring their hands to the center of their body, and grasp objects.

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At four months, the baby can hold his head. Photo: Pixabay
At four months, the baby can hold his head. Photo: Pixabay

Head control and its importance

One of the most important moments in a child’s development is controlling his head, also called cephalic control, which consists of keeping this part of the body in a vertical position concerning his trunk, details Efisiopediatric Institution.

That your baby holds his head is an outstanding achievement. Visual development depends on it; that is, he can follow objects with his eyes and the coordination between what he sees and his movements. It is also important for him to eat other foods besides breast milk.

Head control is key to other movements. Photo: Pixabay
Head control is key to other movements. Photo: Pixabay

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When should we visit the doctor?

Every child is different, so that some skills may be developed faster, and others may be late; that is normal. Mayo Clinic advises going to the doctor if you notice the following signs:

  • He has stiff or tense muscles.
  • He looks too flaccid.
  • When trying to reach objects, he uses only one hand.
  • He has not shown any improvement in head control.
  • He does not respond to sounds, such as being startled by sudden loud noises.
  • He does not try to reach objects or put them in his mouth.
  • He does not attempt to roll over or sit up.
  • One or both eyes constantly turn in or out.
  • He doesn’t babble.
  • He does not seem to enjoy being around people or smiles spontaneously.

Tell us on Facebook if your baby can hold his head up.


Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version: Here