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When Do Babies Roll Over? 6 Subtle Signs To Look Out For!

By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated: 27 October 2021

Is learning to roll over really a milestone we should be looking out for? YES! And asking ‘when do babies roll over’ and knowing when to expect this milestone and how you can help your baby reach this momentous first roll over is crucial to their development!

Babies are wonderous little balls of cuteness in the beginning and as they slowly develop and become their own individuals, their first roll will be as much of a surprise to baby as it is to you!

When Do Babies Roll Over
  • So what rolling signs do we need to look out for? 
  • How can we help baby develop the muscles needed to roll over?
  • When do babies 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.

You may notice your baby building up to the act of rolling over by first rocking from side to side and almost making it over. This stage can last for quite a while before they actually manage that first roll. 

In fact, 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 would 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 normally 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?

  1. Pushing up on their hands and lifting their upper body during tummy time.
  2. Lifting one hand in the air while in this position to reach for a toy.
  3. Rolling onto their shoulder when lying on their back.
  4. Twisting and rolling one leg over the other when lying on their back.
  5. Rocking from side to side.
  6. Twisting their upper body one way and their lower body the other.
when do babies roll over Featured Image

How to help baby roll over by themselves

Once your think your baby is showing signs that they are ready to roll over you can give them a helping hand by doing the following:

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. 

If your baby is struggling with tummy time, however, check out my article My Baby Hates Tummy Time! to learn how to handle this tricky situation!

Allow baby to play on their side

Placing your baby on their side with a rolled-up towel or blanket at their back, to begin with 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! Voila!

Change positions a lot

During the course of the day try to put your baby to play in different positions from their left and right side and their back and tummy. Time spent in all these positions will strengthen all the different muscles needed for rolling over.

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 actually roll. 

Place your baby under a play gym with a toy to one side rather than straight above, which they need to reach up and across to touch. 

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.

Minimise time in equipment

Keep your baby’s time in equipment such as baby bouncers and chairs to a minimum. They cannot practice any pre-rolling skills if they are in one of these.

Rolling 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.

Carry them in different positions

Try carrying your baby in different positions. You can hold them facing forwards, or a long 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 feel confident to roll over.

Give a helping hand

If your baby is getting halfway to rolling 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!

Celebrate 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!

Make things safe

Some babies once they learn to roll can get across a room very quickly so you need to ensure that where they are playing is safe. 

Never leave your baby on a bed or high surface even for a few seconds as you will be surprised how quickly they can roll to the edge. 

Also look out for any items that are now within your baby’s reach that they could reach out for, grab and pull down on themselves. 

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. 

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 don’t even really take to rolling over and may only do it rarely, being quite happy to wait until they can sit.

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 fact 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 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.

It is also 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.

Top Tip

Check out my Parenting Toolbox: Sleep page to find all of my top sleep products for babies and toddlers. Compiling hours of research, I’ve picked out a few of my favourite swaddles & sleeping bags for you to pick from knowing they're the very best for baby.

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, 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:

  • Sitting
  • Crawling
  • Pulling to stand
  • Cruising around furniture
  • Walking

Final Notes

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 baby to roll over using the tips outlined above.

Have patience and one day it'll 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

If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content about when do babies roll over, be sure to give it a share! 

And as I mentioned in this post, if you're looking for products for your little one and you're not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox. It is full of all my favourite products which I've tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof!

Do you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about or questions about when do babies roll over? Be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know!

Thank you for your continued support! And until next time, Happy Parenting!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare 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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