Head's Up!

African American baby lying on their stomach with their head upAround 4 months is the average age when a baby can hold her head up easily during tummy time, and even move it from side to side and up and down. She can also keep her head relatively still in a sitting position (though she probably needs support to stay upright). Now is a great time to practice this new skill and build up baby’s neck muscles. All she needs is the right motivation to lift her head and look around.

During tummy time

  • Place brightly colored toys on each side of your baby, within her line of sight. Encourage her to move her head from side to side to look at each toy.
  • If your baby doesn’t like being on her tummy on the floor, you can put her on her tummy on your thighs, with her chin between your knees. She’ll feel safe and secure, and she’ll have some added motivation to try to turn her head to see you.
  • Place your baby on an exercise ball (carefully holding on!) and roll the ball slowly forward and backward. This gives her good practice holding her head up at different angles.
  • Lay your baby on her tummy, on your tummy and chest. She’ll love to raise her head to look at your face.

Sitting with support

Use a nursing pillow, a baby seat or other good support to allow your baby to sit (mostly) by herself, and then try some fun activities:

  • Sit across from your baby and have a conversation or sing a song. Move slightly to one side, and then the other, so that she turns her head to follow you.
  • Seat her in different rooms, in different spots, all over your home. Each day, she’ll have new things to look at, turning her head up, down, and from side to side.
  • Seat baby in your lap for reading or play time. Encourage head movement by changing the location of the book or toy.

Other activities

  • Lay baby on her back in front of you, hold her hands firmly, and gently lift her upper body into a sitting position. Make sure she can bring her head along with her body, which will strengthen her neck. Then, lower her back to the floor. Repeat as long as it’s fun.
  • Hold your baby under her arms and let her “stand” on the floor, allowing her still another interesting view of the world around her. Strengthening your baby’s neck muscles now will help smooth the transition to other milestones, like sitting, crawling and walking.