3 to 5 months

Babies begin to roll from as early as 3-4 months. Originally it is accidental! The baby does mini push ups, using his arms for support, with his head high, then he/she moves their weight to one arm and suddenly he/she tips and now he/she is on their back. The first few rolls surprise him/her and amaze you!! Though able to roll, it is without control and therefore your baby may not practice it on their own. At this age, most babies roll tummy to back, but either way is fine.

5 to 6 months

Babies are pushing up on strong long arms by 5 months and are able to lift their chests off the floor on their tummies. They may also lift their legs and rock or assume the superman flying position by lifting both arms and legs off together and balancing on their tummy. On their back they are lifting their legs off the floor and playing with their feet. This strengthening allows the baby to develop the muscles to roll in either direction, and by 6 months this movement becomes planned. Babies are now able to lie on their side as they roll from their back to their tummy. This position and the resulting completion of the movement involves a number of systems working together. These include vision (visual feed allows orientation of the baby’s head), the vestibular system (sensory system that assists with balance and awareness of spatial orientation), postural reactions that allow head righting on the baby’s body as they move. Then the baby continues to turn their head and extend their trunk as they move their top arm across their body (this is the beginning of crossing the midline) and then they extend their legs to complete the movement. They are off! Initially a baby will use rolling as their first form of locomotion as they roll from back to front to get a toy or a cuddle from you. This exploration of the environment and mobility skill is the building block of all other movements, creeping, moving in and out of sitting into all fours, crawling, and then moving up onto their feet will quickly develop from here.

How do I help my baby roll over?

Whenever assisting your baby to practice movement, incorporate it through play and/or song. There are lots of lovely rolling songs, i.e. “5 in the bed and the little one said…roll over…”

  • Put a toy to the side, just out of reach, and see if he’ll move to it, i.e. roll over.
  • Lie down just out of reach and encourage your baby to move to you.
  • Tip your baby gently to one side when on their tummy and they may roll over.
  • From three to four months, gently move one leg over the baby’s body to the other side when the baby is on their back and see if he/she will follow with his arm –  they may only roll to the side initially.
  • Lie the baby on their back on a blanket towards one side – lift up the other side and see if you can roll him/her to their side or tummy. Give lots of praise and smiles…sometimes in the beginning it can be a bit scary for a baby when suddenly they are not where they started!

Always be aware to never leave your baby unattended on a high surface, even before they roll…you’d hate for his/her first roll to be off a raised surface.