As your baby starts to develop neck and head control, and around the time when they’re able to sit upright without support, your baby will start rolling over. With greater muscle strength in the arms, neck, and back, they will have all they need to discover new ways of moving around, including rolling over!
The reason this is such an important milestone is that, for the first time, they’ll have more autonomy over the position of their bodies. It might seem small, but simply flipping, or rolling over will give your little one a whole new view of their surroundings.
Eventually, your baby rolling over will lead to them being able to do many exciting things independently, such as crawling, walking, and handling objects with impressive dexterity. In this post, we explore more about when, why, and how babies rollover.
Signs of Baby Motor Skills DevelopmentYour baby rolling over is just one of the many milestones in your child’s development of important motor skills. This is the learned ability to perform a skill or precise movement as a result of practice or experience. Generally, children develop these motor skills from the head down starting with control over the head and neck, and then the upper body and back.
As such, a normal sequence of motor skills development in a newborn is: head control, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, pulling themselves up, and then standing and walking. There are many more steps along the way, and a bunch of milestones to follow, but you get the idea.
Parents and doctors usually look at these motor skill development baby milestones as a way to assess the progress and health of a child. Most children roughly follow these natural steps as they move through their first year, whether it’s your baby rolling over or them figuring out how to hold and shake their favorite toy.
Parents and doctors usually look at these motor skill development baby milestones as a way to assess the progress and health of a child.
When Do Babies Roll Over, and Why?
While there’s some variation between children, many babies learn to roll over as early as 4 months of age. But if your child doesn’t pick up this skill until 6 or 7 months, don’t panic, this is also normal.
The usual pattern is for babies to learn to roll from their bellies to their back first, before learning how to roll over from the back to front, a month or so later. This is because it will require slightly more muscle strength to do the latter.
The specific moment your child flips or rolls over for the first time can be a surprise to both you and them. And after this, they’ll likely want to practice their new skills all the time — sometimes at times of great inconvenience like when you’re changing their diapers!
As long as you attend close by when they’re on high surfaces and make sure they’re not at risk of rolling over into troublesome objects like tangled blankets, it’s good to let your child keep building their abilities whenever they want. After all, it’s a big step towards them being able to move around themselves and make independent decisions.
How to Support Baby Development
One of the best ways to help your child rollover is to give them plenty of tummy time. Giving them time to stretch out on a flat surface will help them build their back and neck strength, as they try to lift their heads off the ground and search out items in their surroundings.
You'll see them using their arm strength more and more, performing mini pushups as they try to maneuver themselves around and see people, toys, and new things around them. And it’s often as a result of one of these baby push-ups that you’ll see your baby rolling over for the first time.
Once your little tumbler knows how to do a full roll without any support, you may even see them using this ability as a method of moving around the room. With good head control and strong arms, many babies can actually roll and spin their way from one side of their play mats to another.
Tummy Time Tips
You can start giving your child tummy time as early as their first few weeks, in small doses. Simply lay your little one across your lap or place them down on a soft and sturdy surface to kick start their back and neck muscle development.
We recommended starting small and just see how your baby responds. When they look more confident in the tummy down position, you can introduce 15-20 minute tummy sessions each day so they have regular muscle training.
During this time, enticing them with exciting toys or objects will encourage them to roll around and tumble towards the things that interest them. Getting down on the floor with your little one and tumbling around with them is also recommended, and great fun!.
Simply lay your little one across your lap or place them down on a soft and sturdy surface to kick start their back and neck muscle development.
How to Ensure Safe Rolling
When your child has developed the ability to roll over, they will have also reached a stage in their growth journeys where they can sense and avoid potential dangers. These dangers could be rolling themselves into a position that will be uncomfortable, or moving where they’ll find it hard to breathe.
Having said this, you’ll want to be cautious that your little one’s spontaneous flipping and baby rolling over tricks won’t get them into trouble. To do this, we recommend moving the following items away from their activity mats or cribs:
- Crib wedges
- Stuffed animals
- Loose blankets and sheets
- Loose clothing
Once your child gets beyond the 6 months mark, you won’t have to worry so much about rolling over risks or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which statistically peaks around 2-4 months and phases out after this point.
We cover this in greater detail below, but making sure your child wears the right clothes for when they’re sleeping at night will also add some additional safety to their early developmental stages. For example, knowing when to transition your little one out of the
Prepare Yourself for More Movement!
As your baby starts to control their position more freely, and even transport themselves around their spaces with their new rolling over skills, you’ll need to prepare yourself for more movement in their lives. This means being aware of objects in the immediate vicinity that could be risky if your child ends up flipping into them, such as electronic cables, heavy items that can topple over, or sharp edges.
A certain amount of awareness and baby proofing will be enough to manage these risks, but for some added safety, consider dedicating a specific area where your child can practice their rolling over skills to their heart’s content. A thick blanket, playing matt, or rug are all suitable options here.
Worried About Baby Development Delay?
Your baby rolling over should happen at a predictable time in their lives, with some flexibility as to how early or late they achieve this milestone in relation to other children of the same age. If you are concerned your little one isn’t picking up the skills they should be at the appropriate time, it’s helpful to consult with a pediatrician to determine whether there is an underlying reason for this development delay.
Before you do this, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a great online interactive tool for parents called Physical Developmental Delays: What to Look For. This can help you gauge how your child matches up with average developmental milestones.
Signs of a Physical Developmental or Early Motor Delay
- Poor head or neck control
- Weak arm strength
- Delayed rolling over
- Floppiness of limbs
- Speech delay
- Limp or floppy body posture
- Difficulty holding the body in a stable position
- Muscle spasms
If you are concerned your little one isn’t picking up the skills they should at the appropriate time, it’s helpful to consult with a pediatrician to determine whether there is an underlying reason for this.
Best Clothing for Baby Rolling Over and Mobility
When searching for infant clothing or buying baby clothes online, a few basic principles will always be important. These are things like safety, practicality, comfort, and age appropriateness.
Your child will be in the best position to develop their new motor skills when they are happy and comfortable in their baby attire. Clothes that are too restrictive or uncomfortable can take away from their skills practicing and progress.
During the baby rolling over the stage, safe clothes are those that are free of any large or obtrusive buttons or accessories that could be an obstacle for smooth rolling. While many parents love a charming bow, when unraveled, it may wrap around your baby or get trapped in nearby objects, preventing your infant from rolling safely.
Many of our products are made with these principles in mind, and with appropriate consideration of what children need to develop. For instance, our Zipadee-Zip swaddle transition products are great for reducing baby wake-ups at night from startling, as well as introducing more flexibility and mobility into children’s wardrobes.
Preparing for Future Baby Milestones
The fun doesn’t stop with your baby rolling over. This newfound strength and athletic prowess is just the start of their ongoing motor skills development journey. Being able to use their neck, back, arms, and upper body strength more freely will soon lead to other milestones like crawling, standing, and pulling themselves up using nearby surfaces, like sofa edges or crib walls.
The CDC has a helpful checklist of all the important baby milestones from zero to five years of age if you’d like to see what’s on the horizon for your child’s development. There are many different milestones to look forward to as a parent, and it’s amazing to see when your little one’s abilities lead to them being more curious and confident in a world that is still very new to them.
Finally, keep in mind that every child is different. Some infants will exhibit a wide range of motor skills from an early age, while some will take significantly longer to mature. This is no sign that your child won’t be as strong, fit, and able as their peers when they get to school age, so don’t panic and just focus on giving your child the encouragement and support they need to keep building those impressive baby skills!