How to Teach a Baby to Roll Over

Ways to Help Your Baby Reach the Rolling Milestone

Rolling is usually your baby's first taste of freedom. Instead of being stuck where you put him, he can roll his way across the room. It's one of the first big moves he makes and is a step on the path to crawling. You can help your baby build the muscles he needs to perform the roll even before he reaches the typical age range.

When Do Babies Roll Over?

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Most babies start rolling between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Some start rolling early at around 3 months old, and others don't reach the milestone until 7 months. This milestone tends to happen around the same time your baby gains better head control and sits up unsupported.

Expect your baby to roll from the tummy to the back first. It's easier to push over from the tummy position. Don't be surprised if the sudden position change scares your little one the first few times. Moving from the back to the belly requires a bit more strength and coordination. Look for the back-to-belly roll about a month later.

How to Help Baby Roll Over

Your little one uses several muscles to finally nail rolling. One of the best things you can do to prepare her is to build those muscles. Tummy time is the perfect pre-rolling activity for gaining strength. Your little one pushes up with her arms and raises her head and chest off the floor. These movements help strengthen the neck, arms and upper body muscles. She may eventually flip herself over while enjoying tummy time.

Gently rolling your baby from tummy to back or back to tummy can help her figure out the movement. You can also tempt her into rolling by holding a toy or your face to the side just out of reach, so she has to roll to get to it.

Safety Once Your Baby Starts Rolling

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After that first roll, your days of your baby staying put are over. Some babies aren't big on rolling, but others love it so much that they roll over and over to get where they want to go. Now's the time to really start picking up and babyproofing your home. If you have older kids, be vigilant about picking up crumbs, small toys and other tiny pieces your baby could swallow.

When you're doing diaper changes, always stay next to your baby to prevent falls. Turning away even for a few seconds could result in a nasty tumble. You can also change her diaper on the floor to eliminate the high surface rolls.

Sleep is another concern for parents. You know back is best for sleeping, but once your baby starts rolling, you can't guarantee she'll stay on her back. Doctors recommend putting your baby to sleep on her back but not worrying too much about her rolling over to her tummy. Follow safe-sleep guidelines like not using blankets, stuffed animals, pillows and crib bumpers to keep her safe if she does roll onto her tummy at night.

What to Do If Your Baby Doesn't Roll Over on Schedule

It's tempting to panic if your sweet little one misses a milestone, but many babies who are a little later in reaching milestones are perfectly healthy and normal. Rolling requires your baby to use multiple muscles in unison. That kind of coordination is no easy task, and your baby may simply need a little more time to get all muscles on the same page.

Since all babies develop at different rates, you don't need to rush your little one to the pediatrician if he doesn't roll by 6 months. Some babies skip right over the rolling milestone, so your baby may be perfectly normal without doing it at all. Talk to your pediatrician if he still hasn't rolled over by 7 months, especially if he also doesn't sit or scoot. If you notice other delays or issues that concern you, call your pediatrician to see if it warrants a visit.