When Do Babies Roll Over? The Complete Parents Guide

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Complete Parents Video Guides to Rolling Over

Babies learn to roll over when they are around five months old. They can do this as early as four months from their tummies to their backs, and as late as six months on average. At six months, the child’s muscles and coordination will likely have improved enough that the baby is able to roll from back to tummy, as well as from his or her tummy to the back. Parents can often determine if their child is ready to roll over based on the baby’s ability to hold his head up and play on his back or tummy for several minutes.

When Do Babies Roll Over? The Complete Parents Guide.

Rolling Over: An Introductory Overview

Rolling over is an action that requires more muscular coordination and more strength than many of the movements that several early milestones. For a baby to choose to roll over intentionally, he also has to have enough confidence and intentionality to make the necessary maneuvers. Many times, as the baby nears the age of 5 months, you will be able to identify several signs that the baby is ready to roll over, including growing muscle strength and an increasing interest in fun activities. You may also see several opportunities to help your baby learn to move on his or her own, and you will begin to recognize any potential barriers to reaching this milestone.

With this particular action, most of the requirements will be on a physical level. If your baby can lift his head, if your baby can begin to look side to side while on her forearms, your baby is nearing the time when rolling over is coming. If you think of the baby’s body and its many muscles, there are a lot of different muscles groups which will need to be strong before rolling over is possible. Since the baby’s birth, he has been learning to use different muscles. By four months, he is able to have more control over his body and the movements. Because rolling over requires momentum, especially in considering moving from the back to the tummy, this factor will also be critical.

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Rolling over usually starts from the babies’ moving from their tummies to their backs. By the time that the babies can roll from their backs to their tummies, they have much more motor control over their body and much more confidence in their ability to make decisions.

While the average time for babies to roll over is from four months to six months, some babies will roll over as early as three months. You can see this more often in babies who were born past their original due date. The same is true of later rollers; more often, preemie babies will usually roll over a bit later as they develop more skills and their bodies grow more. It is also important to acknowledge that some babies do not roll over at all. This milestone can be skipped over. Never fear, though—skipping this milestone alone is not any indicator for worry.

When Do Babies Roll Over? The Complete Parents Guide.

Signs Your Baby is Ready to Roll Over

It is not unusual for a baby to accidentally roll over, as opposed to intentionally rolling over. Sometimes, depending on how it happens, rolling over can be more of an instinct than intention. Because of this, it can be hard to see the signs of when your baby is ready to try this on his or her own. Babies will begin to move more and more as they grow. Between new parents and growth, some babies roll over at three weeks! (see YouTube video below). This is likely due to parental guidance or even a mistake; I know of parents who struggled with changing diapers and ended up with kids rolling over as a result.

Once your baby comes close to the fourth month, you can see if your baby is ready to roll over. One of the ways is to encourage them using a toy or their bottle. When it comes to rolling over, there is usually a reason that they want to do it. Using a toy, parents can often lure babies into following the toy with their arms and eyes enough to create incentive in rolling over. The same thing works with a bottle, if your baby is uses a bottle. Seeing the object they want, they will follow it with their eyes and reach for it with their hands. Once they realize they need to move for it, that is why they will use their muscles to twist enough to the point where they will roll over. Understanding your child’s desires and wants will help you find a good incentive for them.

Offering an incentive by using a toy can help a child roll over in both directions, from their tummy to their backs, and from their backs to their tummies. Going from the tummy to the back requires different muscles, and because of this, it is likely this will happen this way first. The neck muscles have to be strong enough to hold up the head and turn; the back muscles have to be flexible enough and strong enough to roll with the force of the movement. When the baby is going from the back to the tummy, the neck muscles have to be strong enough to lift the head up off the ground or surface, and then the back muscles have to be strong enough to force the body to twist around. Once more, you can use incentive either way, but it is important to recognize that different muscle groups will need to be exercised accordingly.

baby starts to roll over

Things to Watch

While your baby is growing and moving around, it can be tempting to try to push the babies. Many first-time parents will be enthusiastic about getting their children to their milestones, and overlook the importance of quality over speed. I know of several parent groups where it is hard not to try to “one-up” each other with our kids’ accomplishments. With rolling over, there are some concerns that one should watch for, in order to keep your child safe in addition to adventurous.

One common concern for parents when it comes to rolling over is the idea of the baby rolling over onto his tummy and finding it hard to breathe. If a baby is not strong enough to hold his head up from the mattress or the floor, it is best not to push rolling over. Several parents find the idea of their baby accidentally getting smothered sobering enough to proceed with caution when it comes to rolling over. However, being overly cautious can be just as troublesome for the child. Finding a good balance can be hard and require careful calculation and even bravery, but it is possible and necessary.

When it comes to sleeping, if you are concerned about your baby rolling over during while he sleeps, there are several ways to help relief your worry. First, you can make sure your baby is strong enough to push his upper body off the ground with his hands and forearms. If he can do this, there is little chance to worry that he will suffocate during sleep, even if he is a belly sleeper by preference. Second, you can see about getting an inclined pillow to put under his mattress. It is harder for a baby to roll over when she is sleeping on an incline. A slight incline is all you need; there are several options out there for parents. Third, another idea for this is to allow your baby to sleep in a rocker or bouncy seat. I had a rocker for my son and daughter where it could recline and allow them to sleep. I have seen several of my friends with ones that have attachments for playtime and a vibrating massage option; the nice thing about this option is that there is usually more than one benefit in using it. I had a friend who had a baby boy with a very sensitive stomach; at night, he would often burp up because of the gas in his stomach. Because of that, using a car seat and then a rocker helped with his gas and allowed him to sleep much more peacefully.

Another concern some parents voice is about danger. Babies are unable to see all the way around themselves, so they can sometimes end up rolling over and hitting different objects. To prevent this, you can easily put the child on the floor or a level surface. You can even use a blanket or a clean rug. A rug will likely have a bit more traction, so it will not move around the floor. Using a blanket or a rug can also help you estimate how much space a baby will need. You can also easily keep toys or potentially painful objects off the designated space. This will ensure that as your baby rolls over, or practices tummy time, she is safe from anything that will cause her undue surprise or pain.

In the event that something does happen while your baby rolls over, this is the perfect time for you to snuggle with your baby. My kids would often practice rolling over in my lap. I was there to help them and comfort them at the same time. It is important to keep in mind that accidents do happen from time to time, but they are not reasons to stop.

When Do Babies Roll Over? The Complete Parents Guide.

Resources to Help

When it comes to rolling over, there are many things that a parent can do to help. In order to help roll over, there is a physical side of development, and there is a mental preparation side.

Tummy time is a great way to encourage the physical as well as the mental. When I was a new parent, I marveled at how well my husband would help our kids with tummy time. He would get down on a blanket with them and move their arms around to help them lift up their upper bodies, and then show them how, in slow motion, to do different movements. For rolling over, he always made sure to get them to laugh. This encouraged them to see it as a fun activity, something that they wanted to do, and it would also encourage them to try it on their own, just for fun. This kind of preparation worked well to help my children mentally prepare for the moments when they would roll over of their own volition.

In addition to tummy time, it can help to massage your children’s muscles. Giving them a back rub can help open up the blood vessels, and that in turn would encourage the body to relax and repair any growing muscles. Along with this is making sure that the babies receive a healthy amount of feeding time. Because rolling over deals with muscle development, getting enough sleep and nutrition plays a larger role than it may seem. With babies, these things are often complementary when it comes to meeting milestones, and that includes rolling over.


Watching a baby roll over, especially for the first time, often inspires a smile. The baby is often surprised, and the parents are pleased and proud, as well as amused. By understanding that rolling over can only happen when your baby has had enough time and care to develop the muscles he or she needs, the incentives to practice and continually challenge him or herself, and the love and support of parental care, rolling over will be one milestone that is easy to overcome. There are several signs to watch for, concerns and cares to plan for, and methods to try during the process of learning. While it takes an average of four months to get ready, and an average of seven months to see your baby roll over both directions, your baby is unique and will grow in his or her own way. Rolling over, especially rolling over in both ways, from back to belly and belly to back, takes time, practice, and love.

When Did your baby started rolling over? Did he or she rolled soon or did they take their time? We will love to know! Share your thoughts with moms just like you in the comments below.

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