In order for your baby to roll over he needs to have a strong upper body, good control of his head and neck, and be able to coordinate his arm and leg movements well. Most babies learn to roll from front to back first because front to back rolling requires less strength and coordination. Your baby may learn to roll from front to back as early as age 2-3 months. Rolling from back to front is a more difficult milestone and your baby may be 5-6 months before he starts rolling from back to front.
Tummy time and rolling over
Because rolling over requires a lot of upper body strength, it is important that your baby gets daily "tummy time” to help him develop strong muscles and good control of his neck. Babies that don’t get a lot of tummy time may take longer to start rolling over. Try to place your baby on his tummy when he is awake and alert. This will help him with rolling over and other developmental milestones. Tummy time should be supervised until your baby can roll over in both directions.
Safety Concerns and rolling over
The amazing thing about your baby’s developmental milestones is that they don’t happen when you are expecting them. One day your baby will barely be able to lift his head off the ground and the next he will be rolling over. This is why most parents have at least one incident where their baby rolls off the bed or sofa. When you are changing your baby’s diaper always keep one hand free to keep your baby from falling off or if you can use the safety strap to secure him while you change his diaper. Likewise, you should not leave your baby on a bed or couch unattended even if he is sleeping. Babies often surprise their parents with new tricks like rolling off the bed when their mom and dad least expect it.
Tips for helping your baby learn to roll over
- Place your baby on his tummy several times a day. You can use this time to encourage him to reach for toys and look around. Just lifting his head up to look around helps strengthen his muscles and prepares him for rolling over.
- During tummy time, dangle a toy or keys near him. Sometimes when baby starts to grab for things, he will reach so far that he just rolls over.
- Use a boppy pillow during tummy time. When your baby is first getting started with tummy time, he may not have a lot of upper body strength. You can use a boppy pillow to help support his upper body during tummy time. Once he gets a little stronger, you can do tummy time without the boppy pillow and use your boppy pillow for other developmental activities
- Show him how to roll over by gently grabbing his hand and body and rolling him over.
- Place a blanket underneath him during tummy time. You can use the blanket to gently roll him over. Just grab one side of the blanket and slowly flip him over.
When should I start to worry about my baby not rolling over?
Most babies can roll over by the time they are six months. If your baby is not rolling over, at least from front to back, by the time he is six months you should discuss this with your doctor. If he is reaching other developmental milestones and is finding other ways to get around like scooting or crawling, this may be nothing to worry about. Babies don’t always reach milestones in the same order. Some babies, for example, will skip the crawling stage and go right to walking. Moreover, sometimes babies that are a little plump have challenges with the early milestones and do fine with the later milestones once they slim down. It is fairly common for a bigger baby to take a little longer to lift up his head, roll over, or sit up. Usually all it takes is a little activity and these plump little babies start slimming down and reaching milestones at the same pace as other babies.