Babies usually develop the ability to roll over when they are around six or seven months old. In some babies though, this skill may be seen as early as four months. Most babies typically start rolling over from their stomachs onto their backs, and then from their backs onto their stomachs. Interestingly, most of this early rolling happens by accident.
Rolling from the back onto the stomach is important because it allows baby to get into the ever important “tummy time” position. Infants tend to have the greatest difficulty when attempting to roll from their backs onto their stomachs. If you are worried that your little one is unable to roll over while playing on the floor, there are activities you can do with her to encourage this skill.
Early rolling begins with good head control and a strong set of neck muscles to support the head. Babies learn to control their heads before being able to control much of the rest of their bodies. Therefore, they use their heads for leverage when first attempting to roll over.
If your baby is able to hold her head up off the ground in “tummy time” she is ready to attempt to roll over. The following are some activities to help her get started:
- Place your baby on her tummy with her palms down on a play mat or other soft surface.
- Place a small toy mirror on the floor in front of her so that she can look at herself while lying on her tummy.
- In addition to a mirror, use small toys around her to encourage her to lift and turn her head from side to side while looking at the toys.
- If your baby is unable to tolerate being on her tummy, try lying on the floor in front of her with your face close to hers and comfort her.
- Start her off with five to ten minutes of tummy time several times per day until she is able to spend about thirty minutes each day on her tummy.
Rolling from side to stomach with assistance
- Place baby lying on her side on the floor facing you.
- Attract her attention with her favorite toy and position the toy just out of reach above her head. Encourage her to roll from her side to her stomach as she reaches for the toy.
- If she is unable to roll from her side by herself, provide a bit of assistance at her hip or bend her knee in front of her body to help her complete the roll.
- Help baby roll from both sides of her body onto her stomach at least five times from each side.
Rolling from back to stomach with assistance
- Lie baby on her back with her feet towards your body.
- Hold a small, brightly colored toy or other interesting object about 12″ in front of her face to get her attention.
- Once she is interested in the toy, move the toy down to the floor so that she has to rotate her head to keep looking at the toy.
- Place the toy on the floor just over her shoulder and encourage her to reach across her body and overhead to get the toy.
- Baby should use her neck and shoulder muscles to reach across her body towards the opposite shoulder to get the toy. For instance, if she is reaching with her left hand, place the toy over her right shoulder.
- Allow baby to complete the roll to her stomach on her own if she is able to do so. If she is unable to roll by herself, give her a little help by bending her knee and moving it in front of her body, or by providing her with some assistance at her hip.
Help your baby practice rolling from her back to her stomach, reaching with her left hand and then her right hand daily for one to two weeks before moving onto creeping.