4 Baby Neck Strengthening Exercises You Must Know

Neck Strengthening Exercises for a Baby

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Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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Whenever you try to hold a baby in your arms, you can hear your mother’s instructions to support his neck with one arm. This is because a baby’s neck muscles are too weak when they are born. Babies are not born with strong muscles and it is something which develops with time. The neck muscles in a baby’s body may take some time to develop, which is why it is necessary to support your child’s head when you cradle him. However, certain baby neck stretches can strengthen your baby’s neck muscles. So, make sure your baby practises these infant neck-strengthening exercises. However, be careful, he should not hurt himself in the process.

Video: 4 Effective Baby Neck Strengthening Exercises

Why It Is Important to Have Strong Neck Muscles in a Baby?

Having strong neck muscles in a baby is important for several reasons:

1. Head Control

Strong neck muscles allow a baby to hold their head up and maintain good head control. This is crucial for their overall motor development and helps them explore their surroundings.

2. Developmental Milestones

Developing neck strength is a critical milestone in a baby’s physical development. It sets the foundation for other motor skills, such as rolling over, crawling, and eventually walking.

3. Safety

Strong neck muscles reduce the risk of a baby’s head flopping forward or backwards, which can help prevent accidents and injuries when they are being held or in a car seat.

4. Feeding

Adequate neck strength is necessary for successful breastfeeding or bottle feeding, as it helps the baby latch onto the breast or bottle properly.

5. Cognitive Development

The ability to hold their head up allows babies to interact more effectively with their environment, fostering cognitive development through visual exploration and engagement with their surroundings.

Overall, strong neck muscles are an essential component of a baby’s physical and cognitive development, supporting their ability to interact with and adapt to the world around them.

Stages of Neck Development in Babies

All babies reach development milestones in their own time. Some children may get there sooner, while others might take a couple of weeks longer. Nevertheless, there is a general consensus about how strong a baby’s neck should be at a certain age in his life.

Age Range Baby Behaviour
A newborn baby The muscles in the neck are at their weakest at this stage. It is necessary to support the child’s neck when you lift him up.
After a month There might be a few attempts to lift the head or turn it in different directions when lying on his stomach.
Close to completing two months Your baby may start raising his head when he lies down. Also, when sitting up with support, he may hold his head up in a wobbly manner.
On nearly completing four months He will be able to hold his head well while lying on his stomach and raise it up to a good degree.
Reaching the six-month mark Most babies tend to start holding their heads upright around this time. Also, their heads should ideally follow their body when they sit up straight.

Source: http://helpmegrowutah.blogspot.com/2015/01/tips-to-strengthen-your-babys-neck.html

Exercises to Strengthen an Infant’s Neck Muscles

To assist your child in his attempts to hold up his head and to strengthen his neck muscles, there are a few exercises to strengthen the baby’s neck can partake in with your guidance that can help him in this regard. Check out these baby neck exercises.

1. Reverse Cradling Your Child

Most women opt for ‘football-hold’ when they breastfeed their baby. It is one of the most comfortable ways to hold a baby. However, a slight twist to this cradling style can work for your baby’s neck development. Hold him in such a way that he is on his stomach when you lift him. Support his body with your arms, your hands should support his chest and belly. Your baby will face downward, and this will make him raise his neck to look around the house when you carry him.

2. Game of Toys

Newborn playing with a toy

Your baby would soon befriend his toys and those toys would keep him engaged for hours. You can use this to your advantage and get him to raise his head up and turn around to other directions. Let your child lie down on a blanket and make use of toys that make sounds to get his attention. Once he starts looking at it, move the toy around slowly so that he has time to turn his neck and follow the movement.

3. Stretching the Neck

Some babies can either be born with weaker neck muscles than usual or even an unusually large head. Although this is not an abnormality, it can be difficult for a baby to turn around successfully in such cases. Using some external push can benefit him in this regard. If your baby tends to sleep with his head in one direction, you can gently lift his head and turn it to the other one. A similar exercise can also be conducted to help touch his chin to his chest. Don’t force the movement, and let your child’s eyes guide you in the direction he wants to turn.

4. Tummy Time

This is the classic way of developing the upper body strength and the neck muscles of a growing baby. Most doctors and nurses will suggest that you do this regularly. Similar to using toys to attract his attention, you can lay your baby down on his stomach on a blanket and call out to him lovingly. Ensure you stay within his line of sight and gently guide him in raising his head up. He will try to raise his head and look at you, which will develop his muscle strength.


1. Does a Breastfeeding Baby Have a Strong Neck?

A breastfeeding baby typically doesn’t have strong neck muscles right from birth. They gradually develop neck strength over time. Initially, they may need support to hold their head up while feeding, but as they grow and their neck muscles strengthen, they will become better at holding their head on their own.

2. How Do I Support My Newborn’s Neck?

To support your newborn’s neck:

  • Cradle their head with one hand while supporting their bottom with the other when carrying them.
  • During feeding, ensure their head is well-supported and slightly elevated.
  • During tummy time, place them on their belly with their arms in front to encourage neck strength.
  • Use an appropriate infant car seat or carrier that provides neck support and keeps their head stable.
  • Be gentle and cautious with their neck movements, as their neck muscles are still developing.

These neck exercises for infants are important for the development of his neck muscles. The sooner a child can learn to sit up straight and hold himself steady, the easier it will be for him to reach the other milestones of development and start observing the world around him in a better way.


1. Torticollis; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22430-torticollis

2. Deformational Plagiocephaly; Johns Hopkins Medicine; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/deformational-plagiocephaly

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5. CDC’s Developmental Milestones; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

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8. Siddicky. S, Bumpass. D, Krishnan. A, Tackett. S, McCarthy. R, Mannen. E; Positioning and baby devices impact infant spinal muscle activity; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7188598/; March 2020

Also Read:

Muscle Stretching Exercise for Infants
How to Hold a Newborn Baby?
Easy and Effective Exercises for Infants
Exercises to Make Your Baby’s Bones and Muscles Stronger

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