Rolling Over Milestone

Rolling over is a milestone babies usually achieve between four and six months of age.  It’s the first time your baby is truly coordinating his muscles and realizing he can move with intention.  The back to tummy roll typically happens first, followed a few months later by the tummy to back roll.  Building the muscles for this exciting and important milestone takes practice and patience, both of which require your assistance in these precious early months.

The most essential thing to remember about the rolling over milestone is that it doesn’t happen overnight.  Your baby will work on this skill starting at birth by gaining head control and doing crucial exercises that you help him achieve.  All of this work must be done with the freedom to move about so spending too much time in a baby swing, rocker, bouncy chair or being held will not offer your baby the opportunity to explore and strengthen his body.  Instead, give your baby plenty of padded, firm surfaces on which to lie.

Rolling Over MilestoneBabies should spend plenty of time on their tummies, backs and both sides.  This helps strengthen your baby’s neck, midsection, upper and lower body evenly.  Tummy time should begin as soon as you return from the hospital.  This is when your baby lies on his front and eventually learns to lift his head (around two months) and chest (between two and four months) off the floor.  It helps develop extension when the back arches to an “up dog” position.

On the back, your baby will learn to tuck or otherwise known as the “happy baby” pose.  Side lying helps strengthen stomach muscles and encourages balance.  Plus, the front to back motion by way of the sides is certainly required for that good ole roll.  Be sure to give your baby target exercises that isolate the upper body and the lower body to strengthen both hemispheres.  Also, when your baby is a few months old, challenge him with cross-body movements.

As your baby enjoys each of these lying positions, help him navigate rolling over.  First start by rocking him from side to side, as this will build strength and momentum.  Then gently roll him from back to side to tummy and reverse it.  Be sure to work each side evenly for a well-balanced baby.  You can even practice simulating these moves as you ease your baby from holding to lying.  Simply put your baby on his bottom, lean him to the side and then roll him to his back.  He will naturally try to align his head to keep things stable.  As he gets older, the less you’ll be supporting him and the more he’ll be doing it on his own.

In addition to the way you position your baby on the floor and helping the roll along, the way you hold your baby can make a big difference in his ability to learn to roll.  Holding your baby in a tucked, downward facing or sideways position can simulate the rolling movement aerodynamically.  Again, the more experience your baby has with correct positioning the more likely your baby will be to try rolling on his own.  And once he masters rolling, sitting up, crawling, pulling up and eventually walking are not far behind.

Of course you’ll want to make the entire rolling over milestone fun for your baby and you.  Use toys to encourage your baby to enjoy playtime on the tummy, back and sides.  Incorporate vibrant colored objected, songs and sounds with movement.  Often babies are more willing to make a move if there is something – like a bright stuffed animal, a squeaking toy or mommy’s face – to give him that extra motivation.