Parents concerned with when their baby will roll should first consider babies arrive at milestones on their own distinct schedule. Understanding when babies roll over is more about understanding the pace of your own baby’s developmental timeline. When viewed in this context, parents can get a more accurate estimate of when a baby will roll and avoid the anxiety that comes in comparing their baby’s development with others.
When Do Babies Roll Over?
Depending on their own developmental pace, most neuro-typical babies will start rolling over somewhere between 3 and 6-months of age. They will generally begin by rolling from their front to their back before moving on to rolling from back to front.
While developmental pace is important, so is opportunity. Babies who are given tummy time will practice pushing up and eventually learn to roll over onto their back. They develop this skill largely because it’s more comfortable for a baby to lay face up — there’s less necessity to fight gravity in order to observe the interesting world.
How to Help a Baby Learn to Roll
Offering a baby plenty of tummy time will help them build the core and limb strength, as well as the coordination to eventually roll. But babies don’t particularly enjoy tummy time, so parents can help by getting on the ground with their child and playing. The more interesting the objects and interactions, the more likely it is a baby will be inspired to push up and twist which should eventually lead to a roll.
Interestingly babies once learned this behavior on their own. Before safe sleep recommendations to combat SIDS, babies would often wake on their bellies and practice pushing up and rolling in their crib. Since recommendations that babies be placed to sleep on their back in 1993, it was found that babies were rolling over and crawling later. To combat the delay pediatricians began recommending tummy time starting from infancy. But it’s a minor inconvenience when compared to the fact that safe sleep recommendations cut SIDS death rates by 50 percent over the 10 years they became commonly adopted.
Getting Confident About Your Baby’s Ability
A baby that hasn’t figured out how to roll is not necessarily developmentally delayed. Some babies are simply slow to develop some skills, either due to temperament, genetics or opportunity to practice. Rather than focusing on achievement, parents are better off focusing on the quality of the interactions they have with their child.
Parents of children who learn early may worry that rolling in their sleep will put them at risk of SIDS. Importantly, SIDS risk decreases significantly at 3-months-old. So a baby who rolls over in their sleep is likely to have the coordination, strength and body awareness to keep themselves safe.
A delay in rolling over is significant if a baby’s development has slowed significantly or appeared to have stopped. It’s also significant if it is paired with a loss of other developmental abilities. Parents who have any concerns about their babies developmental pace or abilities should always feel free to contact their pediatrician and set up a consultation.