Parents, especially first-time parents, watch their baby’s development like hawks. They want to be sure that their little one is hitting their developmental milestones on time, and they want to catch all of their baby’s firsts.
Every parent wants to see their baby’s first time crawling or walking. They’re essential parts of any baby’s development. But babies need to learn how to roll before they can crawl or walk. Rolling is the first way your little one will begin to get around.
Knowing when your baby will start to roll can help in many ways. You can prepare for your little one to roll around in a safe and supervised area. It can also help you figure out if your baby is meeting all their motor development milestones as they should.
So when do babies start to roll over? Every child develops at a different pace, but most children hit milestones within a few months of each other.
When Should My Baby Start to Roll Over?
Since children tend to develop at their own pace, your child may roll sooner or later than the official developmental guideline. The CDC states that most babies should be able to roll from their tummies to their backs when they’re around six months.
However, some babies can start rolling over as early as three or four months. Other babies may start rolling a little after six months.
Babies roll over in steps – they can’t do a full roll the first time. Usually, babies will start out by rolling onto their sides from their backs or stomachs. They might even rock back to front as they get comfortable with their new skill.
Next, they learn how to roll from their stomach to their back, or they might learn how to roll from their back to their stomach, although it’s less common for them to achieve that goal first.
Finally, your little one should be able to roll both ways and can start getting around on their own, even if it involves a lot of rolls. You may notice your little “accidentally” roll before they can roll themselves over. They will look surprised or startled when this happens since it wasn’t intentional.
What Are the Milestones that Babies Need Before Rolling Over?
Before your little one can manage their first roll, there are a couple of stepping stones that they need to reach first. Newborns don’t have very much control over what they do, mostly because their muscles and motor skills take time to develop.
Before your baby can roll, they should be able to hold their head up. This kind of head control shows that their neck muscles are getting stronger, and if they can’t turn their head, it’s much more difficult to roll over.
Another thing that babies need to be able to do is a mini pushup. They can use their arms to push themselves up a little bit, which also is one of the steps to rolling over.
This shows that your little one is developing upper body strength and that their arm muscles are growing on track.
Babies will also be better at grabbing small toys, like a rattle.
What Are the Signs That My Baby Will Start to Roll Over?
The most noticeable sign that your baby is ready to roll over is when they’ve hit most of the milestones that lead up to this big moment. However, there are other things that your little one might do when they’re ready to roll over.
You may notice your baby:
- Rolling onto their side or shoulders
- Kicking their legs to scoot in a circle while they’re on their back
- Pushing their hips up with their legs
- Rolling their hips from side to side
Your little one is using early rolling movements to learn how to use their new muscles and figure out how to utilize their motor skills to get where they need to go. Since they don’t quite have the strength to crawl just yet, the best way to get where they want to go is rolling.
Why Is It Important for My Baby to Roll Over?
It may not seem like it, but rolling over is an important part of your baby’s development. It’s a great way for them to learn coordination. When learning to roll over, they need to use their arms, hips, and legs to achieve their goals.
Rolling over also helps babies strengthen their muscles for other baby milestones, like crawling, sitting up, and walking. It also gives them a way to exercise their mind.
They’re learning lots of new things, and they can start to explore and grab nearby toys on their own. While a rolling baby can be fun, it does mean that it’s time to start babyproofing and creating baby-safe environments for your little one.
How Can I Encourage My Baby to Roll Over?
Rolling is not something that babies need to be taught since they can learn it instinctively. Even though your little one can learn this skill on their own, there are ways that you can give them encouragement and support.
One of the best ways to help your little one learn to roll over and lift their head up is tummy time. From the time your little one is a few days old, you can place them on their tummies for a short, supervised period of time.
Most experts recommend having thirty minutes of tummy time a day, but it should be spread out throughout the day. A minute or two here and a minute or two there after their first week should help your baby get plenty of tummy time.
You should also ease your little one into it.
It’s best to start out with only a few seconds. If your little one gets upset, it’s okay to end tummy time. You can also try laying on your back and placing your baby on your chest as opposed to using a play mat.
This can help them get used to laying on their stomach, and they can still see your face.
Tummy time helps your little one strengthen their back, neck, head, and shoulders, as well as develop things like balance, perception, and problem-solving.
Play With Your Baby
Another way to help your baby learn to roll over is to play with them. You can get down on the floor with them, talk to them, sing to them, and keep eye contact. You can also take a toy and encourage them to follow it with their eyes and hands.
Put Toys Just out of Reach
You can also motivate your baby to roll over by putting a beloved toy close enough that they can reach it if they figure out how to move towards it. When your little one is around one or two months of age, they’ll start to reach for their toys, which can also provide some momentum to roll over.
What Can Affect When My Baby Will Roll Over?
Since your baby’s growth will develop at their own pace, there could be a number of reasons why they might wait to roll over. Your little one might just be very interested in the ceiling, or they might like to take their time. They may also need more practice.
Sometimes, there are other factors that can affect when a baby may roll. They might have a slight delay in their development due to underlying health issues. Premature babies, for example, tend to hit their milestones later than full-term babies.
This is because premature little ones have some extra development to do that would normally happen in the womb. If they’re born two months early, they may be eight months old before they can roll. They’re still on track, but the timeline changes to fit in the extra development they need to do.
Other medical conditions may cause your little one to roll too early. It’s important to keep an eye on your little one and look for other uncontrolled movements.
How Can I Keep My Little One Safe When They Learn How to Roll?
When your little one begins to roll, there are some changes you will need to make. First, you’ll want to make sure that there is nothing around the house that your baby shouldn’t have but could get into.
Unfortunately, once your baby starts to roll, that means they are too old for swaddling. However, you can place them in a sleep sack to help your baby sleep.
You also need to make sure there aren’t any blankets, pillows, toys, or other things that your baby could get tangled up in while they’re sleeping.
Although you should still place your baby on their back when you’re putting them down for the night, if they roll over on their own, there is no need to correct their sleep position.
It’s also important to supervise your baby if they’re not in an enclosed area like a crib or playpen, especially if it’s an elevated surface, like a bed or a changing table. Now that they know how to roll over, they are much more likely to fall or find something dangerous.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Most first-year baby check-ups are done every couple of months, except for the period right after your baby is born. Many visits will align with a milestone that your little one is supposed to achieve, especially during the first year.
At your baby’s six-month visit, you will probably talk about whether your little one is able to roll around yet. If your baby hasn’t quite made it to rolling from their stomach to their back or vice versa, you can discuss your concerns with their doctor.
Usually, if your baby can’t roll by the time they are six months old, you should discuss it with the pediatrician. Or, if you notice that your little one figured out how to roll but suddenly lost the skill of rolling over.
It’s also a good idea to discuss any difficulty that your baby has controlling movements. Your baby’s pediatrician can help you.
Watching Your Little One Grow
Watching your baby reach a milestone like rolling is a bittersweet moment. It’s a little bitter because it’s a sign they are growing older, but it’s sweet because your little one is healthy and happy. Plus, seeing your baby learn something new is a proud (and adorable) moment.
There are milestones in every part of your baby’s life, beginning during pregnancy. Some development is visible, like when your adorable six-month-old starts rolling over, while other parts are hidden, like when your baby is developing in the womb.
Either way, we care about the health and happiness of babies and their mothers. If you’re looking for more information about babies or pregnancy, you can look at our blog.
Important Milestones: Your Baby By Six Months | CDC
How Much Tummy Time Does Your Baby Need? | Mayo Clinic
Your Preemie's Growth & Developmental Milestones | Healthy Children