My friend’s baby is ahead of the game already. He has started rolling over on his belly by himself and he only just turned three months old. We all cheer him on as his rolls around on the floor excitedly, and the look of pride on his face when he finally makes it onto his belly is remarkable. Some babies develop sooner than others, and this baby is certainly on the fast track. The reason that certain infants can do it better than others is up for debate, but it all comes down to the neck and arm muscles. If a baby has weak neck or arm muscles, flipping over will be much more difficult and it will take him or her longer to get used to the motion. For some reason, this baby is strong. Every time he hits a new milestone, we all watch excitedly. Videos get sent around to the cell phones of every family member and friend, and each new step is cause for celebration. Unfortunately, the opposite will happen for babies who are not hitting important milestones. In particular, studies show that a baby’s inability to hold his head by three months up could be a sign of autism.

Usually, at four months your baby has enough head control so that you could carry him in a backpack or around the room on one hip. You no longer need to keep your hand in the back for support, and he’ll be looking around excitedly at the world from this new perspective. If your baby is not exhibiting such behavior at three months, it’s time to bring the problem up to your doctor. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, co-director at the Autism Research Center, explained in one of his studies that babies with autism appear “floppy” at three months. They are unable to look around at the world, and they might seem uninterested in their surroundings. Without looking uncomfortable, they simply just are.

If your baby is struggling to lift his or her head up at age three months, don’t jump to conclusions. Premature babies often hit milestones later than their peers. However, bring the problem up to his or her pediatrician as soon as possible so that any serious problems can be addressed right away. The sooner a case of autism is diagnosed, the sooner you can begin using alternative teaching methods for your baby’s unique learning style.

Source: Katherine Bourzac: Child Development: The First Steps. Nature – International Weekly Journal of Science Volume 491 pp. 7-9 November 2012