In the previous article, we explained the “head-up” for babies and how and when your baby can hold his/her head up. And in this article, we will introduce some games and exercises that will support “head-up” for your baby.
What kind of games and exercises support “head-up”?
The first step in the motor development of a baby’s “holding head up” process. Babies will naturally master the first step without support from mom or dad, but it is a good idea for parents to help their babies overcome this first step together. Specifically, we recommend the following play and training activities.
Playing on his/her stomach
In recent years, it has become widely known to moms and dads that prone sleeping is a risk for sudden infant death syndrome. As a result, many people extremely avoid putting their children on their stomachs.
However, the prone position contributes to strengthening the muscles of the neck, back, and arms. It is especially good for training the baby’s neck. There is no need to be overly concerned about the risks associated with playing lying down for 10 to 15 minutes while an adult watches over the child.
The key to this is “eye contact”. Babies who have reached three months of age are able to distinguish colors clearly and are curious about various things. Use toys to play with your baby in a position where the baby’s neck is higher than your shoulder. The baby should try very hard to raise his/her upper body and neck to look at the toy.
If the position of the upper body falls quickly, you may want to bring the arm supporting the body closer to the body.
“Turn right, turn left” training
For babies who have trouble lying on their backs, how about “turn right, turn left” training, which can be done while the baby is lying on his/her back? All you have to do is repeatedly place toys that interest your baby on the right or left.
At this time, babies are able to “follow” with their eyes what they are interested in. While following the toy with his eyes, he/she should move his/her head to face the toy. Simply moving the neck while lying down will increase the strength of the neck and back muscles. When you are sitting with your baby, try to encourage neck movement from side to side.
Once the baby can hold his/her head up, the baby can be held vertically. In reality, however, many people are probably holding their babies vertically even before their heads are firmly fixed.
Some parents may hold their baby vertically while supporting his/her wobbly neck because they cry a lot. Holding a baby vertically from the time he or she is a newborn is a rather extreme case, but some children may be able to hold their babies vertically for a short time after they reach around two months of age and have gained some neck muscle strength.
However, basically, the baby should not be held vertically until the neck is fully adjusted. If you hold the baby vertically before the baby can hold his/her head up, be sure to support the baby’s neck firmly. In addition, it is not advisable to hold the baby vertically for long periods of time, as it can put a strain on the baby’s body.
Recently, baby carriers that can be used even before the baby’s head is fully up have become available. These are very convenient, but if you must use them for long periods of time, such as when going out, it is recommended that you get a baby carrier or stroller that can be used for carrying the baby horizontally.
Usually, babies can hold his/her head up without supporting, however it would be nice for them to have your help. So, try some training/exercises above with your babies.