After the newborn stage, your baby rolling over is one of the initial steps towards mobility. A roll is their first significant change in body position and a foundational skill for eventually sitting independently, crawling, and walking. Your baby discovering how to roll for the first time can be a surprise for both of you. Every baby develops physically at their own pace. From what to look out for and how to best dress them, this comprehensive guide allows you to be prepared for their roll over stage. Topics we will cover include:
- When do babies roll over
- Ages for physical development
- Can a baby roll over too early?
- How long do you swaddle your baby?
- Can newborns sleep on their side?
- How to help your baby sleep safely
- The best clothes to support a baby rolling over
- What to expect next
How and When Do Babies Learn to Roll Over?To accomplish rolling over, your baby must have developed proper physical attributes. They need good head control, neck strength, and arm muscles. When your baby gets strong enough to kick their legs or flail their arms, they can then start rolling from side to side. Eventually, you'll see your baby rolling over all the way. Your baby will most likely be able to roll from their stomach to their backs first. Rolling from their back to front requires more muscle strength and coordination. According to a board-certified physical therapist at Riley Children's Health, Sarah Johnson, your baby must have "enough strength in their flexors, which are the muscles on the front of their bodies," to roll from back to belly. Consequently, it is easier for your baby to initially use only their arms to help them with the belly-to-back roll.
How Do I Know My Baby Is About to Roll?You really can't tell exactly! A baby can suddenly flip to a roll by surprise, especially for their first roll. Babies can unintentionally roll over when the weight of their heads turns them onto their backs. For this reason, it is important not to leave your baby unattended on an elevated surface such as a couch, changing table, or bed because they could end up on the floor. It is also normal for the skill to "come and go" when your baby first learns to roll. They are integrating it into their skillsets. So even if you see your infant rolling over early, be ready for them to stop rolling for a while and start up again suddenly.
How Old Are Babies When They Roll Over?On average, babies will develop the necessary strengths for rolling over when they are 4 months old and master the art of rolling by 6 months old. However, this age range is just an average. Some babies can begin the mini push-up actions to develop muscle strength as early as one month old, while others don't start until 5 months old. So if you are wondering, can babies roll over at 2 months, the answer is yes. Babies can roll over as soon as they have the muscles to support the movements.
Ages For Physical Development in BabiesEvery baby has their own timeline for developing the muscles to move and roll over. However, to answer your question, "when do babies learn to roll over," it is important to recognize the common path of physical developments and movements in babies. Typically, you will see the following in a baby between one month old to 6 months old. One Month Old A one month old baby will generally have hand, arm, and leg movements that are reflex motions. Their heads will flop if not supported. A baby rolling over will need first to develop these neck muscles. 2 Months Old Muscles will relax and twitch less in a 2 month old baby. They can usually unfold hands and reach or grasp objects. They can also lift their head about 45 degrees when lying on their tummy. This muscle development means you may see your baby rolling over one way to their side. But can babies roll over at 2 months from front to back? Yes, if they progressed through this stage of physical development earlier and quicker than average. 3 Months Old A 3 month old baby will hold objects longer, start bearing weight on legs briefly, and stretch their arms and legs. You may observe your baby rolling over from their back to the side more frequently. 4 Months Old If your baby is 4 months old you may be able to stand them up with support or let them sit up with arms propped. Usually, they can lift their head about 90 degrees. Because of this new ability, you may see your baby rolling over from front to side. 5 Months Old A 5 months old baby can generally roll over from front to back. They can also grab their toes and feet or wiggle forward on the floor. Babies at this age will be able to reach with better aim. 6 Months Old If your baby is 6 months old you can expect them to hold their head steady. It is also common to see your baby rolling over in both directions by this age. However, please remember every baby explores mobility at different rates. You could also just begin to see your baby rolling over to the side at this point. It is still normal!
Can a Baby Roll Over Too Early?Babies can unexpectedly roll over even before they develop the skill properly. Sometimes the weight of their head causes them to roll onto their back from a tummy time position. Your baby rolling over after one or two months old is possible if your baby was active in developing the necessary muscles for rolling. If you see your baby rolling over at 1 month or your 2 month old or 3 month old starts to roll, this may be earlier than average but is still normal! Sometimes an infant rolling over early is a natural biological phenomenon. So when can baby roll onto side? As soon as days after being born. This type of roll is known as a "newborn curl." It is natural because your baby spent months in your womb curled up, so they sometimes move into this position of comfort. However, most babies will lose this ability before they turn one month old. Suppose this is the reason for their early mobility. In that case, you may not continue to observe your baby rolling over at 1 month.
How Tummy Time Helps Your Baby Roll OverTo help your baby rolling over eventually, prepare them by providing plenty of tummy time. In this position, your baby can practice holding their head up and pushing themselves up with their arms. Like mini push-ups, the actions will develop the muscles in their arms, shoulder, neck, and trunk. It is good to give your baby three to five minutes of tummy time two or three times a day. Every minute of tummy time adds up and allows your baby to get used to the position. You can always increase the frequency and duration as they get used to it. Tummy time can be uncomfortable for some babies because the weight of their heads weighs them down. You can help improve comfort in the position by applying gentle pressure down on their bottom and towards their feet. This movement can help "unweight" their head. Tummy time is also important for you to decide when can babies sleep on their stomach. Suppose your baby can comfortably spend time on their tummies during the day and roll into different positions. In that case, it can be safe for them to stay on their stomach during sleep because they can shift out of it themselves. If they are not comfortable during tummy time, it is best not to let them sleep this way.
Other Ways to Help Your Baby Roll OverThe best times for tummy time are after a nap or in the morning. This way, your baby feels refreshed when letting them practice the push-ups. It can create positive associations with tummy time that leads to your baby rolling over more. Try to avoid doing it when your baby is tired, hungry, or about to need a diaper change. Sometimes knowing when can baby roll onto side or back positions doesn't mean they will have the confidence to keep trying. When your baby does successfully roll, you can also applaud, cheer, and provide positive encouragement for your baby rolling over. It can reinforce your baby to attempt the daring move again. Another common way to encourage your baby rolling over is with play. Firstly, you can try holding a toy far enough away, so they have to move to touch it. You can also lay down with them and demonstrate a roll.
Should You Be Swaddling a Baby?Swaddling a baby is beneficial when they are newborns because this helps them feel like they're back in the womb. Swaddling is a technique where you wrap your baby up snuggly, arms restricted, so they feel safe and soothed. If their arms are free, it is not swaddling.
How to Swaddle a BabySwaddling blankets are a common way to wrap your baby up, but make sure you don't swaddle your baby too tightly. According to the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, you should aim for hip-healthy swaddling where your baby's legs can bend up and out. Here are the steps on how to swaddle correctly using swaddle blankets:
- Spread the blanket out flat, with one corner folded down.
- Lay your baby face-up and head above the folded blanket corner.
- Straighten your baby's left arm, wrap the left corner over their body and tuck it between their right arm and the right side of their body.
- Tuck the right arm down, fold the right corner of the blanket over their body and under their left side.
- Fold the bottom of the swaddle blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of your baby.
See Also: Softest Swaddle Blankets
See Also: How to Swaddle a Baby
When to Stop Swaddling a BabyWhen you observe your baby rolling over, you will want to lose the swaddling blankets and sacks. It is no longer safe for you to swaddle your baby if they are moving around. They can accidentally compromise their airway when they roll over and can't get out of the position using their arms. Graduate your baby to other baby clothes such as baby rompers, sleep sacks, wearable blankets, or closed-toe baby pajamas.
What Are Safe Baby Sleeping Positions?It is safest to place your baby on their back to sleep to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, a baby rolling over may change positions in the night. It is best to dress them for mobility and have a clear crib to ensure safety. Read on for answers to common questions such as:
- Can babies sleep on their side?
- Is baby sleeping on belly safe?