Head control is essential because all of the following motor milestones depend on it.
Your baby can not roll, sit, crawl or stand without head control. Babies who have difficulties with head control will either need professional help, or they will learn to hold their head with compensation.
This compensation could affect the whole body, the developing movements, and skills.
Your full-term newborn baby’s whole body is in a “flexion pattern” which means that the head, shoulders, arms, back; legs are all in the bent/forward position.
When you place your baby on her belly, she will not be able to straighten her arms, legs or back. This makes it a bit challenging to lift her head up.
Learning of motor skills and being out of the womb will help your baby’s flexion pattern disappear by the age of ~two months.
Full-term newborns have a reflex that helps when learning head control. If you place your full-term baby on her belly, – face forward onto the mattress – your baby will turn her head to one side to assist herself breathing easier.
This reflex will help your baby learn to lift her head up.
Premature babies generally do not have the above-mentioned flexion pattern, or it is milder. The reflex could be weak or missing as well.
Because of these and other possible factors, it is critical to monitor and assist your premature baby with positioning and eventually exercises to ensure overall gross motor development starting with good head control as a foundation.
This is not a chronological list. When I work with a baby, I look for the completion of all skills within the given time-frame regardless of the sequence of achievement.
Every baby develops differently. Your baby could complete the milestones in a different order, or a bit faster/slower. Three months of age is an average age.
Fifty percent of babies complete the above milestones of head control by three months thus the medical society chose this number to represent average. Some baby’s reach this stage by 2+, some by 4+ months.
When I work with a baby, my first test is to see if the flexion-pattern and reflex mentioned above are present. If they are missing, I recommend physical therapy.
My second way of testing for possible challenges is to see that the baby is alert and there is visible progress in overall development on a weekly or biweekly basis.
My third, only the third test is to compare the baby’s progress against the developmental charts for that particular milestone.
Remember, the information presented here CANNOT substitute medical evaluation, medical diagnosis or medical treatment.
Always follow your doctor's advice. The contents of this blog is informational only. It CANNOT be used to substitute proper medical care.
With intention, a vision, a clear goal, patience, persistence, daily repletion, and a joyful firm belief in your baby, in yourself and the universe anything is possible!
As always, enjoy your baby and motherhood.
See your baby (babies) as a gift for you to love and cherish.
The information presented here cannot substitute medical evaluation, medical diagnosis or medical treatment. All and any content in this article, blog post and on this website: BabySmileStones.com, including any and all medical and physical therapy opinions and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this blog, site, and connected site: AgotaRakoczi.com and the information contained herein does not create a physical therapist-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor and your baby’s pediatrician and physical therapist in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your baby’s health and development or the health and development of any other baby.
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