Want to know when babies roll over and how to help your little one get there? Here are some activities!
When do babies roll over and how does this process work?
Usually, babies roll over at around six months. But to do so, they need some serious upper body strength, and to build those muscles your little one needs your help.
As early as three months of age, your child will start using their arms to try and move around. That’s when you know it’s “training time”. After a couple of months ―when your little one is around five months― they will be able to lift their head, gaining strength in their upper body by pushing up on their arms and arching their back to lift their chest, and will be able to keep steady while sitting.
They will also become more coordinated, so before they develop the milestone of rolling over, they will rock on their stomach and “swim” with their arms. In the next month, their body will be strong enough to start rolling from tummy to back. Usually, babies first roll like that ―from tummy to the back― and then from the back to the tummy.
Rolling over will help them be more aware of the sensations and different textures of the floor or how their body feels when they roll over, and it will make them more curious about their environment.
How to teach a baby to roll over
If you wonder how to teach your baby to roll over, here are some tips:
1. Get on the floor!
It’s never too early to start tummy time. This time on the ground helps build the muscles your baby will need to eventually roll over. Start with just a few minutes of tummy time a day and work your way up to 20 minutes every day. This will give your little one plenty of time to explore their surroundings and strengthen those back, leg, neck, and arm muscles. If your little one doesn’t want to be on their belly, you can begin with short sessions of a few minutes and gradually make them longer.
2. Encourage your child to play on their side
Remember, rolling over is a gross motor milestone. This means that it involves a lot of their large muscles. So your baby needs to build core strength all around their tummy and abdomen. Being shifted to the side might be scary at first. Try using a toy to guide this movement and eventually your baby will feel strong and comfortable enough to do this alone.
3. Switch it up!
Once you have one side down, switch sides. Help your baby feel the movement step by step and help secure their arm once they’ve reached the other side. You can also practice this by picking them up, and physically moving them from one side to another. The more you help your little one shift their weight to both sides, the more confident they’ll feel rolling over.
4. Dance and sing
Practice laying your baby on their back and moving them from side to side while singing a song. If you guide these movements as you sing, it may help them feel more comfortable. Remember, rolling requires moving and twisting in different directions, so encourage your little one to try all kinds of movements. Music can also help to introduce rhythm in your little one’s tummy time.
5. Try reaching for objects!
You can put your baby on their tummy or back, and use an object to encourage their physical development. Choose a toy they like or an object they are curious about and put it out of reach, so your little one tries to roll over to reach the toy.
When babies roll over, what can I do to keep them safe?
Once your baby starts rolling over, try to make sure they can move safely at home. During sleeping hours, it is recommended you stop swaddling your baby once they start rolling over. You should leave their arms free. If your little one is still sleeping in a bassinet, you can move them over to a crib so they are safer. Another thing to keep in mind is to remove any hazards. Once your baby rolls around their crib, try to remove anything that can make them get wrapped up, such as blankets or pillows. This also helps them find their natural sleeping position.
What if my baby is six months and doesn’t roll over?
Remember that each baby develops at their own time, so don’t be discouraged if your child struggles to roll over even when doing the different suggested activities. However, if you are concerned that your six or seven-month-old hasn’t rolled over yet, you can contact your pediatrician. Also, keep in mind that premature babies might take longer to develop this and other skills.
Contact your pediatrician if your little one was able to roll over but after some time they can’t, because this may be a sign of a health condition. You can also consider consulting them if your baby is six months old ―or more― and can’t roll over in both directions, or if they try it but their muscles are either stiff and tight or loose and floppy.
Eventually, all babies roll over without their parents’ help. With that in mind, now is an excellent time to make sure your home is baby-proofed, removing all things that can hurt your little one or checking if your furniture is safe for them.
Now that you know when babies roll over, you may be wondering what your little one will do next. After acquiring this skill, your baby will be more curious about their surroundings and will soon start sitting up. Later on, they may start crawling, and finally, they will stand up!
You can read our posts about these other milestones, so you know what to expect about your baby’s development and how you can help them.
Sofia Martinez is a psychologist with a specialty in Early Childhood Development. She’s a certified yoga and meditation instructor, eager to share these techniques with kids and parents. Sofia has spent time working with kids and studying normal development as well as working with kids with special needs, understanding individuality in development. She wants to keep studying ECD and help scale Kinedu’s model to families across the globe.