Rolling over is one of the first milestones a baby reaches. It also paves the way for further milestones such as sitting up and crawling. So it is no surprise that most new mothers are very eager for their baby to roll over.
Babies usually learn to roll over from their front to their back at the age of around 5-6 months. This is the time when their muscles in the neck and arms are strong for such movement. At around 6-7 months, they will be able to roll over the other way.
Of course, each baby is different and the rate of their development will vary. If your baby is having a hard time rolling over, or if you just want to help them out, this article will show you 11 tips to encourage your baby to roll over.
Rolling Over Is Not As Simple As You Think!
Rolling over may seem like no big deal to you, but it is a lot harder for a baby. It is a complex movement. It requires two sides of your body to move in the opposite directions.
Rolling over is the stepping stone for many further developments. It is important for the development of the baby’s sensory, nervous, and muscular systems. It helps the baby develop posture control, as well as coordination of the brain and body.
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Most babies can roll from their front to their back at 5-6 months and from their back to their front at around 6-7 months. Some babies can do it earlier, while some may need more time.
11 Tips To Encourage Babies To Roll Over
As a parent, you will undoubtedly be looking to help and encourage your child with their development. There are some things you can do to help your child roll over that won’t harm their development. Here are 11 tips to encourage your baby to roll over.
1. Increase tummy time
Giving your baby more time on their stomach can have a number of benefits, including helping them eventually rollover. It hones the muscles in the baby’s neck, head, and upper body. It will help them move their limbs more easily. All of this helps the baby develop the muscles need to roll over. So the baby needs to have plenty of tummy time.
Usually, most babies will be able to lift the head from the floor while on their stomachs at about 2 months. They will be able to lift their chest from the floor at around 2-4 months. Their hands will be able to hold some of their weight by about 4-6 months.
By the time the baby learns to lift their chest from the ground, they may begin to rock their body slightly. This indicates that they are starting to figure out how to roll over. Being able to shift your weight from side to side is very important in learning how to roll over, as well as several other types of movements. It is an important part of their development, and it all starts with tummy time.
This is why it is important to increase your baby’s tummy time. It will help speed up this crucial part of their development.
2. You can easily combine rolling into the tummy time play
Your baby may not be comfortable with lying on their tummy at first. It is a new and strange position to the infant, and they may fuss. However, when they are older than 2 months, tummy time assumes a lot of importance.
You can distract them using some fun toys and some small games. You can try to get them to move towards the toy, or towards you. This will encourage them to explore further movements, such as rolling over. It will also help prepare the muscles needed for such movements. They will be rolling over in no time!
3. Don’t overuse baby equipment
When your baby is growing, baby equipment can seem like a blessing. Baby walkers, swings, jumpers, and bouncers are all commonly used by mothers to help with the baby’s development. There is no doubt that there are some benefits of using these types of equipment, but it will not help encourage independent movement.
Babies need to be able to explore and experience new things. They need freedom of movement, as well as lots of practice. Most of the new skills the baby learns are through trial and error. Baby equipment restrict their movement and hinders their learning process.
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So while it is okay for you to use the baby equipment every now and then, make sure the baby does not spend most of their time stuck in one of them. Try to give them space and let them experience new sensations as much as you can. They need to spend as much time as possible exploring new movements. This will help them develop new motor skills, eventually helping them rollover.
4. Allow your baby to play on their sides/back
In addition to tummy time, it is also important for your baby to spend some time lying on either sides of their body. Let them spend some time on their side, with a toy to engage them. They will need your help at first for this, but eventually, they will be able to do it themselves.
Also, let them lie on their back for some time. They need to be used to these positions so that they will not be taken by surprise when they finally manage to roll over. Keep things interesting using toys, and other interesting objects.
Once they are comfortable in these positions, you can start keeping these objects just slightly out of reach. They will try to move towards it to reach it. This will encourage them to roll over.
5. Encourage baby to spend time on other parts of a baby
You must let the baby spend an equal amount of time on all sides of their body. This way, the muscles necessary for all types of rolling over, as well as muscles needed for other motor skills, are strengthened equally and thoroughly. Their necks and arms especially will be strengthened. It will also prevent any flat spots on the back of the baby’s head.
Try to let the baby have 15-20 minutes at least, in each position. Repeating this daily will be very helpful for your baby.
6. Encourage baby to play at (and cross) their midline
There is an invisible line that goes down the center of our bodies that is referred to as the midline. Movement is often in relation to this midline. So it is obvious that the midline is an important part of a baby’s ability to roll over.
Therefore, you must encourage the baby to play at and cross the midline of their body. This can be done both on their side, and on their back. Most babies develop the ability to play with their hands at the midline on their back when they are around 1-3 months old. Encouraging the baby to do this will help them roll over in the future.
7. Carry baby in a “tucked”, face down, or sideways position
This may come as a surprise, but even the way you carry your baby can play a part in helping their rollover. So make sure you carry your baby around in a position that will be beneficial for them, as much as possible. These positions include tucked, sideways, and face-down.
You can even dance around the house holding your baby this way! Play some music and dance lightly to it in front of a mirror, while holding your little one. This is a fun way to help them develop the needed muscles. Just be sure to take a 10-second break after every 30 seconds of dancing, so that your baby is not overwhelmed.
8. Let baby play on their back while helping them move through “rounded” positions
As mentioned above, tummy time is very important for the development of the baby. But remember that having some time to lay on their backs is equally important for babies. This is especially relevant when the baby learns to move into and out of rounded positions.
The baby learns the arching position during tummy time, and the rounded or tucked position when they lie on their backs. They need to be equally proficient at both. The baby needs to be able to find a balance so that they will not favor one position over the other.
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It should be fairly easy for the baby to learn the rounded position because babies spend most of their time on their backs. It is a comfortable position, and it makes it easier for the parent or caregiver to look after them.
So letting the baby have playtime on their back is both convenient and helpful in their mission to roll over.
9. Encourage baby to separate movements of upper and lower body
Newborn babies usually try to always keep their bodies in a straight line. This is why, when you try to roll the baby over, they will do what is known as a “log roll”. The ability to do a segmental roll only develops when the baby is around 4-5 months old. This is when they are able to separate the movements of their upper and lower bodies in order to twist.
As mentioned above, you should first make sure the baby is comfortable with playing at the midline. Then you can start helping the baby separate the movements of the upper and lower body. You can do this with some simple exercises.
First, help them move both their legs together. Then you can teach them to grab one of their feet with the opposite hand. Make sure to take a few breaks in between! These exercises will let them develop the ability to twist their body and do a segmental roll.
10. Set down and pick up baby while shifting his weight to the side in a rolling motion
This is an exercise that you can do as soon as your baby is born. It is also very easy to do, and convenient for busy parents. Any time you put the baby to sleep or change their diaper can be utilized for this.
When you go to put the baby down, make them sit up first. Then, roll them over to the side as you set him down. They will reflexively try to keep their head in line with the rest of their body, as mentioned above.
This will help strengthen the muscles on their neck. It will also help them learn to push against the floor. It will be useful for both rolling over, and other important motor skills.
When it is time to pick the baby up again, repeat the process in reverse. Make sure you practice this with both sides to ensure the baby will not favor one side when it is time for them to roll over.
11. Assist baby whenever needed, be there
The baby is gaining new knowledge and skills very quickly, but it is no surprise that they need a little help every now and then. That is where you come in. The baby may not know how to finish the motion of rolling over and maybe stuck or uncomfortable in a particular position. They will not know how to shift their weight at first.
When this happens, make sure you are there to help them out. You can use a blanket to help them move and roll. You can also make use of toys and other interesting objects to encourage and entertain your little one.
Things To Take Care Of When Babies Start To Roll Over
When your baby finally learns to roll over, give both them and yourself a pat on the back. It is a wonderful accomplishment, and it may even become one of your baby’s favorite games. However, there are some things you need to do to ensure they are safe.
- When your baby is on a raised surface, like a bed or a table, make sure you do not leave them unattended
- When the baby is on such a surface, make sure one of your hands is holding them at all times
- If you do not have a crib with all sides protected, let the baby sleep on a mattress on the floor instead
Rolling over is one of the first milestones your baby reaches. It will eventually allow them to develop other motor skills, while also strengthening their muscles which are essential for proper movement.
Babies develop at different paces, so if your baby rolls over a little early or a little late, remember that it is nothing to worry about. And while they must learn new things independently, there is no reason why you cannot guide and support them.