Rolling over is a skill your baby gradually learns as she strengthens her upper body muscles and develops good head and neck control. Eventually she will learn to flip over from her back to her tummy and vice versa. Rolling over is one of your baby’s first steps towards independent movement.
The first time a baby rolls over usually comes as a surprise both for the baby and the parents, but it will soon become one of her favourite tricks. You need to make sure not to leave your baby unattended on the changing table or the bed, just to avoid any unwanted injuries.
When do babies roll over?
There is no specific time when a baby will be able to roll over. The ability to roll over greatly depends on a baby’s weight and the strength of the muscles, which is related to her activity level. This is why some babies can start rolling over at 3 months, while others don’t really get it until they reach 7 months.
As mentioned, it’s possible for babies to roll over as early as 3 months. However, it is usually only a stomach-to-back roll which tends to be an unintentional result of a mini push-up during tummy time. Flipping from back to front requires more strength, and this movement should be mastered by the time your baby reaches 7 months of age.
How to help your baby roll over?
Here are some tips for helping your baby learn to roll over all on her own:
- First of all, make sure your baby gets plenty of tummy time – at least 15 to 20 minutes every day. This will help strengthen the muscles in her back, neck and arms which are required for the big push to roll over. During tummy time, place interesting toys just out of baby’s reach as motivation to roll toward them. You can also get down on the floor next to her to encourage her to roll in order to get closer to you.
- Don’t prop baby on her side. The best thing to do is to sit back and allow your baby to naturally develop those muscles and balance. According to some studies, not putting your baby into positions she couldn’t get into herself, allows her to naturally develop and get stronger, more stable, and more confident in her movements.
- Let your baby spend some time naked on the floor each day. This way babies are free to experiment and move around easier since diapers can restrict the movement in their hips and legs.
- Keep in mind that rolling over is a completely new sensation to your baby and it can be a little shocking or scary at first. That is why you should give lots of encouraging cheers and claps once she does it, letting her know she has done a positive thing. This will encourage her to keep trying.
What not to worry about
Once your baby starts rolling over, she may do it in her crib at night as well. This shouldn’t concern you, because as your baby gains strength to roll over, she also develops an ability to avoid positions where her breathing is compromised. If you are still worried, you can lay her in her crib with one of the arms extended. This will prevent her from fully flipping onto her tummy.
Also, remember that babies develop at their own pace and some even skip rolling over altogether! And premature babies experience a delay in this and other milestones, which is completely normal. Just make sure you give your baby plenty of opportunities to practice her movements and strengthen those upper body muscles.
If you are concerned about your little one’s development, discuss it with your pediatrician. She might figure out how to roll over a bit later, but if you aren’t seeing any attempts for movement, you might want to get your baby checked and get advice on how to help her.
What's next after baby rolls over?
While your baby is mastering the roll, her neck, back, leg and arm muscles are strengthening. She will later on use those same muscles to sit up – first with your help and then independently. Soon after that she should start crawling, standing up and finally taking her first steps. This is the time when you should babyproof your house and, of course, don’t forget to enjoy every single milestone your little one hits!