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Although my baby is nearly 3 months old, he still does not have a very strong neck. What can I do to help him get stronger muscles?

Babies are born with very weak necks, and during the first few months need to be handled very carefully. Their necks should be supported at all times. Make sure that when you let someone hold your baby, that you show them how to support the baby’s head. This might not be obvious to a person who is unfamiliar with babies.

The necks of babies get stronger mainly because they are curious about the world around them. They look around when they hear a noise, or watch something go past so they have to turn their heads. It is a slow and gentle process of gradual strengthening.

Gaining neck strength is an important skill and you have realised. By three months most babies have enough strength to hold their heads steady. It is possible that you are supporting the baby’s head too much at this stage. These are some ideas that will help your baby’s neck muscles strengthen:

- Supervised tummy time is a vital component of muscle strengthening for your baby in general. Keep these sessions short especially if baby does not enjoy being on his tummy. Use a rattle or other appealing toy to encourage him to lift his head and look. Make a game of it.

- If you sit baby on your lap in front of a mirror and then play a rocking game, he will have fun and automatically try to hold his head steady.

- Cheek tickling encourages baby to turn his head.

- Once baby has some neck strength, gently pull him up to sitting form lying, holding his elbows. Until you are sure he is strong enough, you may ask your partner to support his neck a little and make sure he is not straining or that his neck does not tend to flop.

- If your partner holds baby face down across his arms, you can call him and encourage him to look up at you.

Make sure that all these activities are fun, and that you stop as soon as baby shows signs of tiredness. Once his neck starts to strengthen, he will use it more and more, and so the strength builds naturally and quickly.

If you are still concerned, you should discuss this with your clinic nurse or your doctor at your next appointment.

See also:

Head - banging

 

 

 
   
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