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Infants » Newborn Development

Newborn Neck Control

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Dear Susan: My son is three months of age, he has great upper body and lower body strength but he has very little neck control. Our pediatrician is at a loss as to tell us what is going on. Please give me some suggestions.


Dear Maureen:

Thanks for writing! As you can understand, my ideas and suggestions are based on what is general infant development knowledge and does not constitute specific information regarding your three month old. I hope this is helpful but it is important to keep talking to your pediatrician about your concerns. Sometimes an infant has a big head circumference and is a large baby, which makes him or her appear to not be interested in holding his head as erect as you would expect. But even very young babies lift their head and have some head control.

If your son had no head lift or head control and did not focus on your faces in the early weeks (and certainly by 6 or 7 weeks) your pediatrician would have had him checked by now. Babies hold their heads up when raised over your should by 4-5 weeks and especially show a head and neck “lift” when lying on their stomachs, so that they can shift their heads from one side to another.

Is you baby very passive and quiet? Does he still sleep a lot? Some babies don’t get going because they are premature or delivered past 35 weeks. Size and personality do make every baby different. Do you have family members who didn’t sit up until they were older infants? Did either of you hold your head up late and sit up independently late?

Only you can supply the exact information your pediatrician needs, he will assess the situation. Be sure to talk to him right way if you are not seeing any signs of muscle control in the neck and shoulders. Does he cry a lot? Not at all? If you live in a rural area, you may want to take him to a children infant center or clinic where a full assessment of motor and sensory control can be done right away.

Thank you for writing

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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