This post is a follow up to my milestone post regarding development of head control. So here are my tips and tricks on working on head control, but make sure your child is at the appropriate stage of development when you work on increasing their head control and neck strength.
0-2 month olds should be able to turn their heads side to side while lying down. If you notice your child isn’t looking both ways, encourage them to rotate their head by slowly moving a light-up toy or brightly colored toy within their line of vision to each side to encourage them to turn their heads to follow it.
it’s never to early to start tummy time! A great tummy time activity for newborns is also a great skin to skin activity- simply being on their parents chest on their tummy. You can alter the angle that they are on their tummy to make it easier or harder. This position also places your face close enough so they have something interesting to look at while they’re on their tummy.
Neck strength- Pull to sit
As your baby’s neck strength improves, I recommend beginning practicing pulling to sit–>
I wouldn’t recommend pulling up all the way initially, but begin by pulling up just enough to lift their shoulders a little off the bed to get your child used to the feeling of being pulled up, then gradually pull up higher as you see their neck strength improve. In other words, don’t pull all the way up if their head continues to lay back on the bed like the baby on the left.
You can make pulling to sit a little easier by trying to pull up to sit with your baby sitting up at a slight angle. This will give them less gravity to fight against when trying to hold up their head.
Head control and neck strength in all directions
The strategy I use most to work on head control and neck strength is the exercise ball.
You can use this with a child sitting or on their tummy, and shift them forward, backward, side to side working on having your child hold their head in the middle as well as possible.
In sitting you can slowly tilt them backwards so they try to tuck their chin and hold their head up, which will help them with holding their head up when you pull them up to sit.
Tummy time to increase neck strength
Tummy time is the best way to increase overall neck strength and head control. Some other ways to work on tummy time aside from being on the floor:
- on ball as above
- over boppy pillow
- on inclined couch cushion
- on their parent’s knees or chest
Remember that any time your child is not lying on their back, they are working on increasing their head control and neck strength, so minimize lying down time when your child is around 2-3 months.