When Can Babies Start to Lift Their Heads?

When Can Babies Start to Lift Their Heads?

Last update: 11 December, 2018

Even though many parents worry about when their babies will be able to lift their heads, you must be patient and wait. The natural processes or physical development shouldn’t be accelerated.

First of all, we must remember that babies are fragile and delicate. At birth, their muscles still don’t have enough strength to perform movements or to hold their limbs. Therefore, their actions are limited and uncoordinated.

During their first year of life, children are immersed in a process of incessant fundamental development. This covers different systems of their body and includes, of course, the nervous system and motor development.

As the months progress, babies learn to control their bodies better, as their muscles gain size, strength and endurance.

When do babies start to lift their heads?

A child’s motor development begins precisely when the muscles allow him to keep his head up. This, in general, begins to manifest itself from the fourth month of life.

However, it should always be kept in mind that growth parameters can vary without posing a problem for babies.

Before turning 3 or 4 months old, the child can make attempts to lift his head and keep it in that position, but cannot achieve it for more than a few seconds.

In these months, the baby begins to make this movement by mere reflexes and moves toward more conscious and permanent actions.

Once he masters these skills, the baby’s development will continue through the muscles of the shoulder and back, which will be responsible for allowing him to remain seated.

Later, his limbs will strengthen. This is the necessary requirement for him to learn to walk.

When Can Babies Start to Lift Their Heads?

In summary, the movements that the baby learns over time are ordered as follows:

  • First month: controlling the direction of the head to look at things.
  • Second and third month: gaining control over the body and extremities, but without controlling them in a coordinated manner.
  • Fourth to sixth month: this is when the baby usually learns to keep his head elevated.
  • Sixth month onward: from here, the baby’s movements begin to be more intentional and, as he gains strength, he’ll learn to move by his own means. First he’ll crawl, and then he’ll walk.

Can I help my baby lift his head?

To a certain extent, although parents cannot accelerate the process, they can help their babies have adequate physical development through certain measures. These range from gently carrying them to performing some gentle exercises.

Over time, their muscles will mature and have the necessary strength to support different parts of the body.

The best thing to do, once babies are about 6 to 8 months old, is to leave them lying on their stomach. This way, in order to examine their environment, they’ll try to lift their heads on their own and thus strengthen their muscles little by little.

Another small exercise is to lay babies face down and hold them by their hands, being careful to help them sit up. But this is very important: make sure you don’t make excessive effort to carry out this action.

Children’s motor development begins at the precise moment when the muscles allow them to keep their head up.

What if they won’t do it?

Some babies may have some delay in their motor development without this signifying a major problem. However, if your baby reaches 3 to 4 months of life and you think he hasn’t progressed as he should in this aspect, consult with your pediatrician.

When Can Babies Start to Lift Their Heads?

Care to consider

Until babies can fully control their movements, you should be aware of their movements. You should also take certain measures, such as: avoiding sudden movements and avoiding letting their head hang if they cannot support it.

Also, be careful with jumpers, walkers and all kinds of toys that involve movements for which they may not be prepared. To prevent unnecessary injuries or complications, be very careful and support their head until they have mastery of it. 

Once babies learn to lift their heads and hold their heads upright, they’ll soon present other advances in a short amount of time. Their curiosity to move and explore the world will increase.

Surely in a few months they’ll start trying to crawl. Accompany them and take care of them in this wonderful stage of life!


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.