Getting head control
Your baby was born with very weak neck muscles and so is reliant on you to support and protect her head and neck at all times in the early weeks while she is unable to support the weight of her own head.
But very quickly she begins to strengthen those muscles and by four weeks, she is already beginning to get a little head control - at least enough to be able to lift her head slightly and turn it from side to side when she has tummy time. Developing strong neck muscles is vital for later physical development such as sitting unassisted, crawling and eventually walking.
Learn more about your four week old baby's development stage
To develop strong neck muscles and head control your baby needs to spend regular time on his tummy each day, and as sleeping on his tummy puts him at high risk of SIDS, his tummy time needs to be taken while he's awake. Initially, he'll find it difficult to move his head at all which may make him unhappy and may even result in him head-butting the floor.
Always supervise tummy time and ensure that you place him on a secure surface that is firm (don't try tummy time on your bed as the mattress will have enough give in it that it may allow his head down into the covers, so presenting a possible suffocation risk). The floor is the best place for tummy time - if you have carpet, just place a wrap or bunny rug under your baby so he doesn't get a mouthful of fluff. Or for a little variety, try tummy time outside under the shade of a tree - once he's a couple of weeks old, he'll start to enjoy the play of light and shade.
Discover more tips about tummy time
Making tummy time enjoyable
While it's true that there's no better way to encourage your baby to strengthen her neck muscles than a little tummy time each day, it's also true that there aren't many babies out there that initially like to spend time on their tummies.
If your baby is unhappy about being stuck face first on the floor, try getting down there with her. If you lie beside her with your face close to hers and you talk and smile encouragingly at her, you'll probably find that she'll tolerate it for a couple of minutes before squawking. Do that a few times a day, and you can tick tummy time off your list of things to do.
Find more about your baby’s week by week development
This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz