What kind of physical therapy exercises can help in head holding in infant?

Physical therapy exercises for infants are designed to help develop their head control and head holding and neck strength. Head holding is an important milestone in an infant physical development. Here are some pediatric physiotherapy exercises and activities that can help improve head holding in infants:

1. Tummy Time for head holding

Time: Place your baby on their stomach while they are awake and supervised. This position encourages them to lift their head to look around. Start with short sessions and gradually increase the time as the baby becomes more comfortable.

2. Neck Flexion and Extension for head holding

Gently guide your baby’s head to look down toward their chest (neck flexion) and then up toward the ceiling (neck extension). Repeat this motion several times to strengthen the neck muscles.

3. Side-to-Side Head Movements for head holding

Gently guide the baby’s head to turn to the left and right sides to encourage lateral neck muscle strength.

4. Chin Tucks for head holding

Ask your baby to tuck their chin toward their chest and then lift it back up, which helps strengthen the front neck muscles.

5. Head Lifts for head holding

While your baby is lying on their back, encourage them to lift their head off the surface for a few seconds and then lower it. Gradually increase the number of repetitions and the duration of the lifts.

6. Head Rotations for head holding

In a sitting or supported sitting position, have your baby gently rotate their head from side to side.

7. Head Tilts:

Encourage your baby to tilt their head to one side, bringing their ear closer to their shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

8. Gentle Resistance:

Resistance: Apply gentle resistance to the baby’s head in various directions (up, down, side-to-side) using your hand or a soft resistance band to challenge the neck muscles.

9. Visual Tracking Activities:

Use colorful and engaging toys or objects to encourage your baby to visually track from

10. Mirror Play:

Place your baby in front of a child-safe, unbreakable mirror to encourage them to look at their reflection and make funny faces, which can help strengthen neck muscles and improve head control.

11. Parent-Baby Interaction:

Interact with your baby by talking to them, making eye contact, and encouraging them to turn their head toward you or different sounds in the room.

12. Supportive Positions:

Use rolled towels or cushions to support your baby’s shoulders or neck during play or supervised tummy time to help maintain head control.

13. Strengthening Activities:

Encourage your baby to reach for toys while in a supported sitting position, promoting upper body strength and indirectly supporting head control.

These exercises should be conducted in a safe and supervised environment. It’s important to tailor the activities to your baby’s specific needs and capabilities. Always be patient and gentle with your baby during these exercises to ensure their comfort and safety. If you have any concerns about your baby’s head control or development, consult with a paediatrician or a paediatric physical therapist for guidance and support.

How Dr. Sumeet Dhawan Can Help:

Additional reading

1. KidsHealth: https://www.childandfamilydevelopment.com/blog/sure-fire-ways-to-improve-your-babys-head-control/

  • Description: Trustworthy resource from the Nemours Foundation, offering clear guidance on head control development in infants and gentle tummy time exercises to strengthen neck muscles.
  • Why it’s helpful: Features age-appropriate exercises along with developmental milestones to track your baby’s progress.

2. American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.mamanatural.com/when-do-babies-hold-head-up/

  • Description: Authoritative information from the AAP on typical head control development and when to seek professional evaluation for delays.
  • Why it’s helpful: Provides reassurance and guidance on identifying potential concerns and accessing help if needed.

3. Choose PT: https://www.choosept.com/

  • Description: Comprehensive guide from the American Physical Therapy Association on infant physical therapy, including exercises for head and neck control development.
  • Why it’s helpful: Features video demonstrations of simple exercises and tips for incorporating them into playtime.

4. BabySparks: https://babysparks.com/tag/tummy-time/

  • Description: Engaging website with creative tummy time ideas and variations to make it more enjoyable for both babies and parents.
  • Why it’s helpful: Offers fun and playful ways to encourage head lifting and neck strengthening through interactive activities.

5. Zero to Three: https://www.zerotothree.org/

  • Description: National resource promoting optimal early childhood development, featuring helpful tips and advice on supporting head control milestones.
  • Why it’s helpful: Provides insightful articles and resources on infant development, including strategies for fostering a supportive environment for growth.


  • Your local pediatric physical therapist: Contact a licensed PT for personalized guidance and recommendations tailored to your infant’s specific needs and progress.

Remember, while these resources provide valuable information and exercises, consulting a healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist is crucial for ensuring proper assessment and personalized recommendations for your child’s head control development.

I hope this information helps you navigate this essential stage of your baby’s growth!

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