Infant head control: development, assessment and intervention

The ability to hold the head steady and  to turn in different directions allows infants to connect with their surroundings. Over the first months typically developing infants also learn to hold the head steady and erects as they are lifted and moved and when they are carried and held erect when sitting on a caregivers lap. 

Learning these abilities is an essential prerequisite for learning to sit, creep and crawl and pull up to standing and walk. They are also needed for using the hands to explore, grasp and manipulate objects and use the hands for communication. 

Earlier maturational theories of development ascribed the emergence of  head control to maturation of  righting rand other postural responses. Modern developmental systems thinking about postural control emphasize the role of experience and infants' strong motivation to interact with the social environment and physical environment as drivers of infants' emerging control of head position and movements. 

Depending on the infant's age and level of control of head stability and neck movement, the assessment of head control should include observation and activities to invite the infant to turn the head to look at and follow interesting object and people in supine, supported in a semi reclined position, sitting with the right level of segmental support and prone. 

Development of head control from newborn to 10 weeks 

Supine head control and neck movements: assessment and intervention

Pull-to-sit: typical development: birth to 4 months  

Caregiver handling and the development of infant head control

Assessment at 2-3 months: Pull-to-sit and head control in sitting

Assessment guideline: Supine 3-7 months

Head control: intervention in supine

Development of head control when supported upright

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Active mobilization of  neck and trunk in infants