Is learning to roll over really a milestone we should be looking out for?
Asking “when do babies roll over”, knowing when to expect this milestone and how you can help your baby reach this momentous first roll is CRUCIAL to their development!
Babies are wonderous little balls of cuteness and as they slowly develop and become their own individuals, their first roll will be as much of a surprise to them as it is to you!
- So when exactly do babies roll over?
- What rolling signs do we need to look out for?
- How can we help baby develop the muscles needed to roll over?
- And what happens if they start to roll over at night?
When Do Babies Roll Over?
So when do babies roll over?
Well, most babies learn to roll over both ways by 6-7 months of age.
However, some may achieve their first rolling milestone as early as 4 months!
Babies will learn to roll from tummy to back first and then from back to tummy later, as this requires more advanced and developed coordination.
The first roll will probably surprise both you and your baby as it will not be intentional, but more likely as a result of your baby trying to reach for an object or just experimenting during tummy time.
What About Premature Babies?
Depending on how premature your baby was, they may develop more slowly. This may mean that they achieve their developmental milestones later than would be expected of a baby born at full term.
This is not a cause for concern as your paediatrician will be aware that baby was premature and as a result, it would not be unusual for a premature baby to roll over later than would be expected.
REMEMBER: If your baby was premature, they should catch up developmentally by the age of 2.
6 Subtle Signs Baby Is Going To Roll Over
So it’s all good to know when do babies roll over, but what are the signs that your baby may be about to start rolling?
Well, here are the 6 signs that I always look out for that indicate when babies will start to roll over:
- They are pushing up on their hands and lifting their upper body during tummy time.
- They lift one hand in the air while in the above position to reach for a toy.
- Baby will begin rolling onto their shoulder when lying on their back.
- They will start twisting and rolling one leg over the other when lying on their back.
- Baby is regularly rocking from side to side.
- They are twisting their upper body one way and their lower body the other.
Even before you notice these subtle signs, there are plenty of ways to help teach your baby how to roll over. Here are my favourite techniques…
How To Teach Baby To Roll Over
Once you think your baby is showing signs that they are ready to roll over you can give them a helping hand by doing the following:
1. Offer Lots Of Tummy Time
We all know how good tummy time is and it really is great for helping your baby to strengthen their upper body in preparation for rolling over.
Place toys just out of reach to encourage them to reach out and grab.
Tummy time mirrors are always a good choice and when you want to entice your baby to roll over place the mirror to one side a little out of reach to tempt them to roll and stretch.
We all know the importance of tummy time and there is no better way to keep your baby engaged during this essential activity than with a tummy time mirror. This one from Sassy is sturdy but soft and has a large good quality mirror that is guaranteed to grab baby's attention. It also comes in a black and white colourway.
If your baby is struggling with tummy time, check out my article My Baby Hates Tummy Time to learn how to handle this tricky situation.
2. Allow Baby To Play On Their Side
Placing your baby on their side with a rolled-up towel or blanket at their back until they can balance alone is a great way to get your baby primed for rolling over.
Place toys in their line of sight but just out of reach to keep them engaged and as they stretch to grab the toy, they will naturally cross their top leg over and one day they will just roll over!
3. Change Positions A Lot
During the day, try to put your baby in different positions to play as time spent on their sides, back and tummy will strengthen all the different muscles needed for rolling over.
4. Encourage Play Across The Midline
Between the ages of 4-5 months teaching your baby to reach across the midline is another good way to get them ready to roll over as this is a skill they need to master BEFORE they can roll.
Activity gyms are great for entertaining your little one and ideal for providing them with tempting opportunities to reach and roll when they are ready.
Place your baby under a play gym with a toy to one side rather than straight above, so they need to reach up and across to touch.
I love the versatility of the Infantino Twist And Fold Activity Gym which has toys you can detach and use in the car as well as being easy to fold and use on the go.
5. Engage In Track And Grab Playtime
Lay your baby on their back and hold up an interesting toy for them to look at and then move it across from side to side so they can track it.
Encourage them to reach out – preferably across the midline too.
6. Minimise Time In Equipment
Keep your baby’s time to a minimum in equipment such as baby bouncers and chairs.
They cannot practice any pre-rolling skills if they are in one of these.
7. Roll Them While Picking Them Up And Putting Them Down
As you pick up and put your baby down, do so in a rolling motion rather than straight up and down.
This can be done from a young age and helps to strengthen the muscles necessary for rolling.
8. Carry Them Around In Different Positions
You can also try carrying your baby in different positions.
Hold them facing forwards or along your arm facing outwards.
By doing this you will improve your baby’s balance and ability to hold themselves in different positions which in turn will help to encourage them to roll over.
9. Give A Helping Hand
If your baby is getting halfway into a roll but gets stuck, give them a hand!
Helping them to get past that sticking point over and over again will teach them what it actually feels like to roll.
Here’s a really quick video to show you how to give them a helping hand!
10. Make Things Safe
Once your baby is able to roll, they can get across a room very quickly so you need to ensure that where they are playing is safe BEFORE they can roll.
Also, NEVER leave your baby on a bed or high surface (even for a few seconds) as you will be surprised how quickly they can move to the edge when they are able to roll.
11. And Finally, Celebrate Their Success!
When your baby finally rolls over, either intentionally or not, make a BIG fuss!
The more excited you are… The more they will want to repeat it!
TOP TIP: Some babies get a shock the first time they roll over and may cry. This is quite normal and you simply need to comfort them and let them know there is nothing to be scared of.
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When Do Babies Roll Over FAQs
Here are 3 frequently asked questions and concerns about babies rolling over that may help you and your little one with this rolling journey!
What To Do If Baby Has Not Learnt To Roll Over By __ Months?
It is always important to remember that the age at which babies roll over will vary quite significantly from child to child.
A few babies may only roll occasionally, being quite happy to wait until they can sit.
Others will be keen to roll immediately!
If your baby has not started to roll by 6 months of age and is not showing signs of sitting or bottom shuffling either, then you should consult a paediatrician or medical professional.
What Should You Do If Baby Rolls Over In Their Sleep?
This can be a bit of a conundrum for parents, as we all know that babies should be put to sleep on their backs for the first year of life.
This should not change even if your baby starts to roll over when asleep and you should always start by placing them on their backs.
If your baby is still in a bassinet or moses basket but has started to roll over… then you should move them to a crib that does not have any bumpers or pillows.
Ensure they have plenty of air and space around them too.
Finally, it is important that you do not swaddle a baby that can roll over as you need to allow them to have their arms free to get back onto their backs.
A sleeping bag rather than complicated bedding is ideal for this stage.
Here’s my favourite sleeping bag for little rollers:
Most babies that start to roll over in their sleep will either stop doing so after a short time or will prefer sleeping on their tummies.
If the latter is the case, there is very little you can do about it…
BUT the good news is that when babies are able to roll over, they will also able to move their heads from side to side and push themselves up to lift their heads to breathe freely.
But if you are at all concerned, trust your instincts and contact your paediatrician.
Once Baby Has Learnt To Roll Over, What Are The Next Milestones?
Once your baby has learnt to roll over there are loads of new and exciting milestones to look forward to that will come in sequence as their physical development progresses. The next to come will be:
- Pulling to stand,
- Cruising around furniture,
- And walking!
The answer to the question “When do babies roll over?” is a flexible one.
Remember, every baby is different and some will be rolling away from 4 months and others will be tantalisingly close by 6 months old!
The trick is to stay calm, promote movements from side to side and gently encourage your baby to roll over using the tips above.
Have patience and one day it will just happen!
And remember, if you’re at all concerned about your little one’s development, trust your instincts and check with your GP or paediatrician.
Until Next Time
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Thank you for your continued support! And until next time, Happy Parenting!
Paula McLarenPaul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.
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