When your baby rolls over all on its own for the first time, it signals a big leap forward. Being on their tummy, facing forward, exploring the world with their hands, is a huge step towards sitting up, crawling and world discovery!
The exact age this happens will vary – all babies are little individuals and they’ll develop in their own good time, thank you. Some babies can roll over onto their sides right from day one, then lose the knack for a few months until they’re ready to have another go. Some babies want to head straight to sitting up, only rolling over occasionally along the way.
Generally, most little ones will start rocking and rolling at around 4 months. It’ll begin with rocking from side to side, and the first roll will usually be from tummy to back. At 6 months or so, they’ll have mastered the art of the back to tummy roll. Cue drum roll – your little stranded tortoise has found its feet!
Why does rolling over matter?
Being able to roll over is the first step to independence. Now they can start thinking about crawling, moving around and sitting up without you there to prop them up. As well as developing physical strength and skills, by enabling your baby to explore more of the world around them, rolling over is one of the key milestones for cognitive development.
How will I know when they’re ready to roll?
The first time your baby rolls right over will probably be a big surprise to both of you! But there are a few subtle signs that’ll let you know they’re getting close. Your mini gymnast starts doing push ups during tummy time. They’re suddenly able to balance on one hand and reach out with the other. When they’re on their back, they start rolling over onto one shoulder and throwing one leg over the other. They might start rhythmically rocking from one side to the other, or twisting the top and bottom halves of their body in opposite directions.
How can you help your baby roll over?
Even though it’s something that will happen naturally, in its own time, there are things you can do to give your baby a head start. Putting them in different positions when you pick them up and hold them or rolling them over gently on a blanket are good ways to get them used to the idea.
Give them tummy time
Tummy time is vital. Allowing them to spend time on their tummies gives them plenty of opportunities to get to stage one and make that first roll over from tummy to back.
Supervised tummy time on a nice soft blanket helps build up the muscles they’ll need to support their neck and head. It’s also good for developing sensory and visual skills, balance and problem-solving. Activity centres, a tummy time mirror to grab their attention and favourite toys they can’t resist reaching out for are great motivators to get them moving. It might just be a side roll to begin with, but it’s a start.
You can also start with side play, supporting your baby with a rolled up blanket or towel and putting toys just out of reach. Even lying on their back, you can prime them by hanging toys just to one side rather than in the middle encourages them to start reaching up and across that middle line.
Or why not get down there with them and join in the fun. Babies are natural born mimics, so whatever they see you doing, they’ll want to try for themselves! Playing with toys together, singing, smiling lots are all great ways to bond with your baby and make tummy time a positive experience for both of you.
If your little one likes you to be close, or frets if they can’t see your face, tummy time lying on your lap or stretched out on your chest is a good option. It can be good for reflux or digestive discomfort, too.
The aim of the game is to help them build up the muscle power to roll over all on their own, and eventually to sit up unsupported. A few minutes at a time, maybe for half an hour a day in total, is a good place to start. Always make it fun. If they get halfway through a roll and they’re getting frustrated, help them finish it off. Give them lots of positive feedback. Clap hands, big smiles! Let them know they’ve done good and they’ll want to do it again!
How can I make sure my baby rolls over safely?
When it’s tummy time, you’re there to make sure all is well. But once they start rolling over, they’re not going to stop when you’re not around.
Carry on putting baby to sleep on their back. Although that might not be how you find them later! But the good news is that once your baby has the strength and know-how to roll over, they’re more likely to know how to get themselves out of trouble. Be prepared for the changes. Keep an eye on their development and stop swaddling as soon as you spot them rolling over – usually between 4-6 months.
If they’re still in a Moses basket, cradle or bassinet, this is the time to move up to a crib. Always take out any potential hazards before you put them down to sleep, like blankets, pillows or soft toys that could potentially cause breathing problems. If you don’t already use one, a baby sleeping bag can be a good option for safe sleeping. The Puckababy range gives you options for coolness or cosy, with no need for extra blankets.
If you’re still worried, you can put your little one to sleep on their back or side with one arm extended. They’re more likely to roll onto that side, and the arm will then stop them going all the way over.
Choosing the right mattress can be a great aid to peace of mind. Like the AeroSleep mattress, which is safe even for tummy sleepers thanks to their unique 3D technology mattress protector. It ensures that air circulates freely around your baby’s head, whatever position they put themselves in. There is even an inclined version for sloping sleeping, ideal for snuffles, colds and upset digestions.
Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll all sleep like babies!
After rolling over, what next?
Rolling over is just the beginning! Once your baby’s neck muscles are strong enough to hold their head up, they’ll be sitting up. Maybe with a gentle hand from you to start with, then all on their own.
Next comes crawling – expect that at around 8 months. Soon they’ll be hauling themselves up and standing on their own two tiny feet. Then taking those first tottering steps. Before you know it, you’ll be chasing a toddler everywhere!
All the typical timings we’ve suggested are just that, suggestions. All babies move at their own pace so don’t be concerned if your baby is a little ahead or behind the curve. Many babies just get there a little later, including premature babies, and it’s perfectly natural. But if your little one isn’t making visible progress, skills they’ve learnt seem to have disappeared, or you have any concerns at all, always check with your paediatrician or health care professional.
So keep an eye on your little chick and watch out for the signs that it’s ready to fly. Time to rock and roll, baby