The first time your baby rolls over is an exciting moment — and often a surprising one for you both. But when should they roll over? Are they too late already?
Here we take a look at how old the average baby is when they roll over for the first time. Plus, what you can do to help your baby roll over and how old your baby can be before you should start worrying about their lack of rollover ability.
When Do Babies Roll Over?
A baby may be able to push themselves over from their belly to their back as early as four months. However, it will be another month or two before they can move in the opposite direction and push from their back onto their belly.
When Do Babies Roll Over?
The average baby is about four months old when they first push themselves over from laying on their belly to laying on their back. Going the other way is a bit later, and don’t be surprised if your little one is five or six months before they can roll in that direction.
While it’s not impossible for babies younger than four months to roll over or for them to roll from back to belly first, it is unusual. That’s because a baby has to build up sufficient strength in their muscles and develop adequate coordination before performing the maneuver.
That need to develop the brain-intent-muscle-movement process is why babies often act with surprise the first time they roll over. Then it takes a few attempts to work out what they did, how they did it, and how to do it again, at will.
What Are the First Signs of Rolling Over?
Long before they roll over, your baby will start to lift their head while laying on their back. The next step is to push themselves up on their hands or forearms, rather like a mini-press-up.
Once your baby is at this stage, it’s only a matter of time before they push more with one arm than the other, overbalance and flip themselves over completely.
How to Help Babies Roll Over
The motto for baby rolling over is this: Back to sleep, tummy to play (1).
You can help your baby to roll over by letting them spend lots of time on the floor, on their tummy. Tummy time helps your child build up the flexibility and strength they need in their back, belly, arms, and legs.
Place your baby on their belly on a clean play mat or towel on the floor. Place attractive, bright, and colorful objects around them. This encourages your child to turn their head to view things. Start out for three to five minutes three times a day, building up to about 15 mins.
Your baby can enjoy tummy time before you leave the hospital. By laying your baby on their tummy, on your tummy, you will be helping your little one accept belly down as a position. This makes them less likely to protest tummy time later on (2).
What’s Next After Babies Roll Over?
After your baby rolls tummy to back, the next step is moving back again from their back to their stomach. This takes more strength and happens at around five to six months.
When Should I Worry About My Baby Not Rolling Over?
If your baby is not rolling over at around six months, it’s worth taking a trip to the doctor to check everything is OK. It’s most likely they are just at the later end of average, especially if they lift their head to look around and push themselves up on their arms or hands.
We say around six months because it is not unknown for the first roll to be closer to seven months than six.
It is also essential to let your doctor know if your child was rolling over but has stopped doing so, especially if they lose other abilities.
Tips for Protecting Rolling Babies
To keep your baby safe when they begin rolling, you can:
- Never leave your child unattended on a changing table, sofa, or any other raised surface. No matter how low to the ground it is.
- Don’t lay your baby on a soft surface or anything that could bunch up. Your baby may not always have the strength to lift its face up off of a soft surface and can quickly suffocate.
- If your baby has a disability, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or was born prematurely, check with your healthcare professional before you start tummy time on the floor.
- If your baby falls asleep during tummy time, lift them up and place them onto their back in a safe place to sleep.
Rolling Is the First Step
The first rollover is a surprising and exciting event for you and your baby. Suddenly they are changing from the more physically passive newborn into a child capable of getting around under their own steam.
Like other milestones, there’s no need to start worrying if your baby isn’t at the early or middle range of the average timeframe for rolling over. But if your little one is approaching seven months or loses an already acquired ability to roll, it’s worth checking with your doctor to see why.