10 tips for helping babies learn to roll

Rolling is one of baby’s first significant motor milestones. Hello, mobility!

title-photo smaller

Not only is rolling the first step in developing postural control (important for later development of fine motor skills such as handwriting), it is also important because it engages a part of the brain responsible for making the left and right sides of the body “talk” to and coordinate with each other (important for reading, writing, and developing higher motor skills). Cool, huh…or am I the only nerd in the room?

Some babies are ready to roll from the get-go, while others take their time. On average, babies tend to first roll from tummy to back between 2-5 months, from back to side between 4-5.5 months, and from back to tummy between 5.5-7.5 months. Regardless of whether babies take the fast or slow road to rolling, their bodies begin preparing to roll wayyyyyy before they ever flip themselves over that very first time. And, guess what? YOU get to be a part of that preparation! This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (see full disclosure here).

Here are 10 tips for helping babies learn how to roll:

1. Set down and pick up baby while shifting his weight to the side in a rolling motion. You can start this one as soon as baby is born and — guess what? — it’s super easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You can do this with every diaper change and sleep session which means, for a newborn, it can add up to 20 or more times a day. That’s a lot of practice!

Here’s how you do it: Sit baby on his bottom and roll him over to the side while setting him down. He will automatically try to keep his head from falling out of line with his body (a reflex with which babies are born), strengthening the muscles on the sides of his neck. This move also allows him to practice pushing against the floor with the arm on the way down. Simply reverse this motion when it’s time to pick baby up. Be sure to practice rolling baby to both sides throughout the day…we don’t want a baby who only moves to one side! Check out the photos below or watch a short video demonstrating this maneuver by clicking here.

baby rollingbaby rollingbaby rolling

baby bouncer2. Minimize time spent in baby equipment. This includes baby swings, bouncer chairs, play saucers/jumpers and, yes, even car seats (though car seats should ALWAYS be used while baby is in a vehicle). The only way babies develop new motor skills is through experience, practice, and trial & error, so for every minute they are in baby equipment, that’s a minute of lost experience. Don’t get me wrong, baby equipment is super helpful for busy caregivers and fussy babies, and it makes for great photo ops for that adorable baby scrapbook you’ll never get around to completing. I have a post on this very topic (baby equipment, not hopeless photos…we all know that scrapbook will never happen). We just don’t want babies spending the majority of their waking (and sleeping) hours confined to spaces and equipment preventing them from practicing their new and exciting motor skills.

tummy time3. Allow baby plenty of tummy time during the day. All of a baby’s major motor skills develop from the tummy time position, which is why it’s so important for babies to practice being on their tummy. Time spent on the tummy helps babies strengthen their neck and back muscles necessary for arching against gravity and, eventually, rolling. In general, babies fully lift their head off the floor during tummy time by 2 months, hold their chest off the floor during tummy time between 2-4 months, and bear weight on their hands while on their tummy between 4-6 months. I know, the majority of young babies hate tummy time with a burning passion. You’d scream too if you were stuck with your face on the floor! If this is the case for the baby in your life, you’re in luck! Check out my post to learn some super handy tips for making tummy time less miserable by clicking here.

Once your baby is comfortable on his tummy and can push his chest off the floor, you may notice that he will start to rock his body side to side. This means he’s on his way to initiating his new skill of rolling! It may be hours or weeks until he finally topples over for the first time, but the fact that he is practicing shifting his weight side to side is HUGE! For some babies who have trouble learning how to roll, this weight shifting thing is key.

Sometimes babies seem to get “stuck” in that pushed up position and just can’t seem to figure out (or are uncomfortable with) shifting their weight side to side. You can help with this by guiding him in some slow, gentle side-to-side motions while he’s pushed up as you sing a song like Row, Row, Row Your Boat or The Wheels on the Bus and then help him shift his weight to the side just enough that he is able to finish the roll himself at the end of the song or verse. You can also help your baby shift his weight side to side on an exercise ball (learn more about that here) as he practices this skill in preparation for rolling. Just be sure to be super duper careful, move slowly, keep your hands on his mid-section at all times, and keep him on top of the ball (not coming down the side of the ball) so it doesn’t slip out from under you/him.

baby playing on back4. Allow baby to play on her back while helping her move through “rounded” positions. Playtime on the back is just as important as tummy time, especially when baby has the opportunity to move into and out of a rounded or “tucked” position. We want babies to develop a good balance of extension (that “arching” position, learned in tummy time) and flexion (that “tucked” position, learned in playtime on the back) as they grow and learn new motor skills; we don’t want one position overpowering the other. This rounded position is easy to achieve because most young babies prefer to be on their back, plus it allows caregivers to easily interact with and entertain them. Playtime on the back can take place on any flat surface — even in your lap — as you sing, read, talk, or help baby nibble on her toes while providing flexion in baby’s knees, hips, and/or trunk.

baby laying on side5. Allow baby to play on his side. You can use toys, mirrors, books, or the most exciting toy — your face! — to engage him in the side lying position. He may need help staying on his side when he’s younger, and this can easily be done with your hand, foot, or a rolled up receiving blanket wedged behind his back. As he becomes more comfortable on his side, place desired toys or objects just out of his reach. He will begin to cross his top leg over to the floor aaaaand…wa-la!…this is how he will initiate the roll to his tummy!

6. Allow baby to spend roughly equal amounts of time on all four sides of the body: tummy, back, left side, right side. This gives baby’s body exposure to all positions involved in rolling as she strengthens her neck, trunk, and arms. It’s also good for preventing the formation of flat spots on the back of her head which, if you ask me, is incentive enough to mix things up throughout the day. Try to vary baby’s position about every 15-20 minutes.

7. Encourage baby to play at (and cross) his midline. Movement is performed in relation to the invisible line down the center of our bodies, and the ability to roll is dependent on a baby’s ability to come to (and cross) that midline. The great thing is, our center moves with us wherever we go, so midline play can be done lying on the back or the side. Babies generally develop the ability to play with their hands in midline between 1-3.5 months (while on their back), and are able to look with their head in midline in this position between 4-5 months.

baby playing at midlinebaby gym

8. Encourage baby to separate movements of upper and lower body. Newborn babies are wired to keep their body in one line, so they’ll do a “log roll” if you try to roll them over. The “segmental roll” typically develops between 4-5 months, as they are able to twist and separate the movements of the upper and lower body while initiating the roll with their hips. Once baby is comfortable playing at midline in the rounded position mentioned earlier, you can go ahead and move her back and forth through these twisting positions to the rhythm of your favorite children’s song (Row, Row, Row Your Boat has won critical acclaim in our household). Start with both legs moving together, then progress to helping baby grab one foot with the opposite hand. Pause for a second after each twist in order to give baby’s body a chance to register the movement, then proceed and let the good times roll!

baby playing on back with mom

mom holding baby facing out9. Carry baby in a “tucked”, face down, or sideways position. Who knew rolling could develop from being carried? This tip was inspired by child development specialist Laura Sobell (learn more about Laura and her amazing work at calmbaby.com). You can carry baby around the house this way or, better yet, you can DANCE WITH YOUR BABY! Turn on some music, get in front of a mirror for baby’s viewing pleasure, and move her through space in all of these positions as you bounce and sing and smile. You’d be surprised how much babies love this one! Be sure to STOP every 30 seconds or so to take a 10-second break in order to give baby’s nervous system a chance to fully process and adjust to the movements (their system will sort of “tune out” the movements if you keep going long enough).

mom holding baby in airmom holding baby in air

11.14.2011 088 cropped text10. Wear your young baby in a carrier that keeps her legs in a frog-like position, rather than separating her legs into a straddle position.
 These carriers encourage engagement at the midline which, as noted previously, is important in the development of rolling. Such baby carriers include the over-the-shoulder Maya Wrap as well as more symmetrical carriers such as the Moby Wrap (read my review of Moby Wraps here), Baby K’tan Baby Carrier, and Ergo Baby Carrier. All of these carriers allow your young baby to be carried in a frog-like position.

So there you have it! Ten ways to help babies learn how to roll. Don’t go overboard with this stuff. We’re not training babies for the Infant Olympics! Start with the basics, have fun, and let the baby be your guide. Share this information with people you know who may find it useful…the more who know about it, the better for our babies.

Want even more tips related to rolling?

The wonderful Starfish Therapies has put together this short video and post about how to encourage your baby to roll from back to tummy, plus this general post about encouraging rolling, and another post called “My Child Isn’t Rolling Over: Should I Be Concerned?

And Pediatric OT Anne Zachry has a really helpful book called Retro Baby which is filled with tips and activities to help your baby develop skills such as rolling, sitting, and crawling. You can read my review of Retro Baby by clicking here, or you can just head straight to Amazon to see it for yourself.

Alright, time to get rolling!

Want more handy tips and tricks to help the kids in your life? Then subscribe to Mama OT by clicking "Subscribe!" on the homepage so you can receive new posts via email. And be sure to keep up with all of Mama OT's tips and info shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Mama OTIn addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.

Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!

. . . . .

Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 
Follow and like us!

Related Post

81 thoughts on “10 tips for helping babies learn to roll

  1. Pingback: Exersaucers: The good, the bad, the better | Mama OT

  2. Thanks for all the great suggestions! I’ll have to incorporate these into our daily routine. Mikayla will be 7 months in two days and still doesn’t seem anywhere near rolling any which way! 🙁 And she’s such a big girl that she really can’t comfortably grab her toes while lying on her back. The good news is she’s starting to enjoy tummy time more & she’s even scooting around-every direction but forward which I understand is normal. Her favorite position is sitting upright, which she’s pretty much a champ at. Anyway, I’ve got some good ideas to implement now-thanks!

    • Omg, I can say the exact same thing about my 7.5 month old son! Seeing that you left this comment some years ago, I was curious what ended up being the result? should I be concerned about my son? He just wants to be held or sitting up but hates laying on his back or belly.

      • Have you mentioned this to his pediatrician? I would suggest doing so if you haven’t already. Hopefully he has not been dealing with reflux or some other internal pain that it causing him to not want to be placed on the floor.

  3. Angela, glad you found this helpful! Yes, it’s all about incorporating into your daily routine so you don’t have to try and “remember” to set aside special time amidst your already busy day with baby and family. I believe #2 (picking up and setting down in a rolling motion) and #5 (playing on her side) will be especially helpful if she doesn’t seem interested in rolling at this point. Good that she’s starting to enjoy tummy time (yay!) and experimenting with scooting…she’s figuring it out! I hope these ideas will help you (and her) out, and you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

  4. Pingback: Tips for Helping Your Child Roll « Early Childhood Program~North Platte

  5. Pingback: Get up and dance with your baby! - Mama OTMama OT

  6. Pingback: One Trick to Help Babies Learn to Roll {One Thing Thursday} - Mama OTMama OT

  7. What a really informational post! I’m expecting a baby in January and will be sure to refer to this again! Sharing on my facebook!

    • Congratulations to you and best of luck with your 3rd trimester! Be sure to check out my other posts in the Infants category such as tips for tummy time & dancing with your baby. Welcome to motherhood!

  8. Thanks so much for your blog. I’m also an OT but my infant development is rusty. My little, almost 4 month old is learning to roll. He’s actually doing it backwards, as in he has gone from back to tummy several times but has not yet figured out that he can go from tummy to back. He has started hating tummy time and wants to move and be upright but he will play in side lying. I like the put down and pick up method. I can’t wait to try.

    • Kimberly, thanks for your comment and glad you found my blog! Congrats on your little guy. My son hated tummy time pretty much all the way until he could crawl (8 months)! You can try playing with him on an exercise/beach ball so that you can grade how much of an angle he is at (the farther back on the ball he is, the more upright he is, and thus the easier it is…the more on top of the ball he is, the more flat, and the more difficulty). I also have a post about 7 tips for tummy time (which includes the exercise ball tip) that you can find here: http://mamaot.com/2012/03/25/tips-for-making-tummy-time-a-little-less-um-miserable/. Best of luck!

  9. Pingback: 25 Tips for Preventing Injury in Infant Caregivers -Mama OT

  10. Hi Again,
    Shortly after my last post, my little guy started rolling from back to tummy. I loved incorporating these tricks into our everyday lives. He loves being on his tummy. He’s even becoming a tummy sleeper. He’ll roll to his side or tummy as soon as he’s laid down on his back. He’s now almost 8 months and so close to crawling. He’ll rock on all fours, slide one leg forward or hop a little.

    My question for you today is: he still is not rolling from his tummy to his back, are there other tricks to help this? Sometimes I try waiting until he gets a little frustrated to see if that will motivate him. When I pick him up, I facilitate rolling by crossing his arm underneath his chest and rolling him to sitting. He does get quite a bit of tummy time. Although, he is also sitting on his own, once placed in sitting, and really enjoys that. At what point should I worry and see about a formal eval? I’ll ask at his 9 month visit but that seems so far away. Thanks!

    • Kimberly,
      Thanks for the update, so fun to hear! It’s sounds like your little guy is close to learning to transition into and out of sitting more independently, rather than being placed in and out of it. Babies often achieve this by pushing up to all fours (like you said he’s doing), and then shifting their weight to one side until they plop on their bottom and, tada!, they are sitting. Then they can basically do the reverse to get from sitting back down to the floor (sit, shift weight forward or sideways to arms on the floor, and down to all fours or tummy). He will likely figure this out on his own, but you can help facilitate his understanding of that process when he’s on hands and knees by helping him shift his weight to the side and slightly backward until he is in a sitting position. He’ll get the hang of it! As for rolling from tummy to back, many babies achieve this by pushing their chest up off the floor and then shifting their weight to the side until they end up rolling over. Again, he may initiate this on his own when he’s ready, but you can help facilitate this at first to give him the idea if you want. You can also try to place him on the floor on his tummy when you are moving him from one location to another, so he begins his floor time on his tummy and has to practice transitioning from his tummy to other positions. If you are at all concerned about your little one’s development, go ahead and bring it up to the pediatrician at the next visit. There is such a wide range of when babies achieve their milestones, so keep on being the hands-on mom that you are and having fun in the process!

  11. Thanks so much for these tips, they are a great help. My daughter is 7 1/2 months and hasn’t rolled in either direction and it has me concerned. She fights me and resists when i encourage her to roll or even have her play on her side. She doesn’t mind tummy time. Could there be an underlying issue other than her just developing late?

  12. Thank you for writing this post! My daughter is 6 months old and has only rolled a handful of times, and only tummy to back. She doesn’t have any physical reasons holdingher back, and instead it seems like a general lack of interest (sitting, on the other hand got her full attention!). Still, we’ve tried to encourage it, with little success.

    We just started doing the tips on here that go beyond just what we’ve been told (“Tummy Time” is the most obvious one parents are told about, but we’ve also been doing arm/leg crosses and rounding from pretty early). We hope that by doing these and the different T.T. exercises, our little Freya will learn how much fun rolling can be! Thanks again!

  13. Pingback: OT Corner: Handwriting Mastery Begins Before the Introduction of a Pencil

  14. Hi, I have a question. My son started rolling belly to back at 3 months and then back to belly at 4.5 months. However, now at 6 months he doesn’t show much interest in rolling anymore now that he has mastered sitting. He can still roll if we reslly push him to (like big incentive) but he seems to struggle to get his leg over and complete the roll. He is a hefty boy (20 lb at 6 mo) so not sure if that has anything to do with it. Should I be concerned he struggles to roll at this point? Thanks for any help!

    • Rachel, good to hear your baby boy can roll and has now mastered sitting at 6 months! Yes, babies who weigh in on the heavier side do tend to struggle more with rolling so that may be a contributing factor with his more recent decline in rolling abilities. A lot of babies start shedding baby fat when they begin crawling, cruising, and walking. But if you are concerned with his weight or milestone acquisition, be sure to mention it at your next visit to the pediatrician.

  15. I just stumbled across your site looking for tips to help my baby roll and I love it! I only wish I had found it before our baby was born because I love all your tips for playing with newborns and toy recommendations 🙂 My 4.5 month old was late with head control and didn’t hold his head straight until a few days before he turned 4 months old. We saw an osteopath/PT for help and she really worked wonders. The day after our little guy started holding his head straight, he taught himself to roll from back to tummy! He is very good at this now and will always roll within seconds of being placed on his back. The downside is he can’t figure out how to roll from tummy to back, and he finds it very frustrating! I am trying to increase his tummy time to help strengthen his upper body so he can get the height he needs to roll, but he seems to see tummy time as a cruel reminder of his inability to roll back! Do you have any tips for working on this skill? Most of what I’m seeing online seems to be geared toward babies who master the tummy-to-back roll first. I would also love to read more on how to assist with sitting and crawling skills if you are looking for new post ideas 🙂

  16. Hello and thanks for your passion. I am exercise physiologist and also very passionate about movement, and even more so functionally efficient movement. That being said my second baby boy has been a late mover. I can’t find any research anywhere but has begun crawling at 9.5 months but does not roll??? Early on from 2-4 months he would roll occasionally by accident almost from tummy to back but not repeatedly or regularly at all. Now he doesn’t roll at all. If you out him on his back he kicks abundantly and smiles and in his belly he crawls but never ever a roll. He sleeps on his back and upon waking will play contently for quite awhile without ever attempting to roll. He will only kick himself and feel with his hands to find toys and such. Any suggestions. He resists us helping him roll intensely. Thank you so much for your time,

    • Sharlyne, thanks for your comment. Have you mentioned these concerns to your child’s pediatrician? He or she should be able to either answer questions regarding your specific child or direct you toward useful resources if necessary. I would like to refer you to the website of a pediatric physical therapist who guest posted here about helping babies learn to sit. She runs a business and website called Move Play Grow, and you can contact her via http://moveplaygrow.com/contact. I think she will have more specific information than I will be able to give you. Best of luck!

  17. Do you think that babies who wear cloth diapers have a harder time learning to roll? My guy has a pretty padded tush with his cloth diaper, and I was just curious what your opinion was.

    • That’s an interesting question, Jennifer. I know what you mean about things being more padded and bulkier. I don’t know that I can answer definitively on that one, but I can say that although I haven’t personally done cloth diapers with my babies, I have several friends who have used them and it hasn’t ever come up as an issue for them in terms of learning to roll. It’s okay to give your baby non-diapered play time during the day (just make sure he’s on a towel or absorbant surface), plus that’s actually a good way to help air out and prevent or heal diaper rash. Thanks for bringing up an interesting point!

  18. Thank you so much for publishing this fantastic blog. I was wondering if you have any tips on how to help a baby learn to roll from her tummy to her back. My 5-month-old keeps rolling on to her tummy while napping and sleeping and gets super upset because she can’t figure out how to get back on her back or side. I have my baby on a play mat for most of her awake time so she’s quite good at rolling side to side and getting on her tummy. She used to roll on to her back during tummy time, but now she’s so stable on her tummy I think she has forgotten how to get to her back.

    • Allison, how frustrating for both of you! Glad to hear your baby gets good time on the floor. One thing we want babies to do is be able to shift their weight from side to side while pushing onto their forearms or hands during tummy time. It’s one thing for a baby to be able to tolerate tummy time or even to be able to push their chest off the floor, and it’s another thing for them to be able to shift left and right while supporting themselves. Do you think that maybe your little one isn’t comfortable shifting her weight side to side? If so, you can read through some of the ideas shared in the other comments, I think they may help. Good luck, thanks for taking the time to comment!

  19. I love your website! My 7 1/2 month son isn’t really interested in rolling, although he has actually done it at various times. He first started rolling right at 4 months rolling from back to tummy, and was obsessed with it until he did it several times, but then just seemed to lose interest. Since then there have been a few times where he seems to think “I need to roll over…now!” and just does it, back to tummy and then right to his back again. Sometimes once, sometimes several times. But he doesn’t seem at all interested in rolling over while playing, other than just rolling up onto his side for a toy. He also still hates tummy time, and if I place him on his tummy he immediately flips on his back again. He can sit independently but is obviously not a functional sitter. I will be trying some of our other tips but I wonder if he is lacking enough strength in his back/shoulders to feel ok about rolling? He also went from being tiny to 75-85% for weight/length in the last coule months. The pediatrician said a few weeks ago not to worry because he has rolled before, but it still worries me. Although I also think he just might not be ready? He seems to be focusing on talking instead, haha. Any suggestions besides the ones listed in your tummy time and rolling over posts? Thank you again!!

    • Sarah, it’s true that babies who are in the higher percentiles for weight can have a harder time with rolling…it takes a lot more gusto to make it happen! It’s also true that, sometimes, when babies begin to develop a new skill such as talking/language, then other skills such as motor skills can tend to take a bit of a back seat. It can happen in the baby stage, and it also happens in the toddler stage when they are learning to walk or talk. These shifts tend to be temporary but they can definitely be disconcerting for parents. That’s great that he will roll to his side. Take a look at some of the other responses in the comments regarding helping a baby roll from his side either to his tummy or his back. Hopefully that will give you some ideas for how to engage with him and help him roll all the way during this (hopefully) temporary halt in rolling. Best of luck and thanks for stopping by!

  20. Pingback: How to Play with Your Newborn Baby (0-3 Months) | Mama OTMama OT

  21. Hi there,

    Thank you so much for the article. My baby is 7 months old and still can’t roll from back to front and the other way round. She however, can sit very well unsupported. In fact she started sitting at 4 months. Her head control is good and she has been doing tummy time consistently for the last 2 months. I must say though that she can turn to her side, and will roll when I give her a push. Other than that she doesn’t seem interested in doing it. Should I be worried?

    • Ruth, thanks for your comment.

      A few questions: 1) Is your baby on the high end of percentiles for weight? It’s not uncommon for babies in the high percentiles to have more difficulty learning to roll. 2) Is her pediatrician aware of her milestones, and has he or she expressed any concern? Always mention developmental concerns to the pediatrician, even if you’re not sure if you should be concerned or not. 3) Does she have other means of getting around other than rolling? Sometimes babies figure out other ways to scoot or slide around without rolling, in which case they may become less interested in figuring out how to roll as a means of mobility.

      You said that she can go from her tummy to her side…that’s good. Once she gets to her side, you can try to have her reach for a toy by holding it up so that she has to reach forward/up with that top arm. As she reaches, you can slowly move the toy backward so that she must follow it with her hand and her eyes and then…plop!…she may roll over to her back just like that! The more practice she gets going from her tummy to side, and side to back, then the easier it will be for her to smoothly move through the entire sequence. When she’s on the floor, be sure to spread her toys around a bit so that they aren’t all within an arm’s length. Put them slightly farther away from her than that so she has some motivation to roll to go get them. It’s amazing how productive rolling can be when it comes to helping babies get what they want. Best of luck 🙂

      • Hi Kirsty,

        Thank you so much for your response. The suggestions you made have been really helpful. Baby and I have been trying them out with good progress. This morning for example, after some encouragement she rolled over 🙂

        But to answer your question, yes baby is in the top ten percentile for her height and weight. So what you said made sense. She is due for her eight month visit end of this month, so I will be bringing some of my concerns up. However, with the practice we are doing using some of the tips you have mentioned, am confident she will be rolling by the time we go for her check up. Thank you so much for the info you have given and taking the time to respond. I will keep you updated on how we going with our rolling practice 🙂

  22. Thanks a lot for the info on helping ur child roll over , I have tried a couple of things after reading ur blog . My daughter turns 4 mnths in a weeks time but is no where close to rolling not even on her sides , I am a little worried , but she does roll over sometimes from her tummy to her back, is it normal????? Everyone keep raising eyebrows that she hasnt rolled over to her side yet. Wud love to get inputs from u . Thanks

    • If she is already rolling over from her tummy to her back, that’s great! She is right on track in that regard. Rolling from back to tummy tends to come after babies have figured out how to roll from tummy to back. You could expect her to achieve that milestone in approximately the next 1-2 months. While playing with her on her back, you can hold a toy for her to reach for to the opposite side of her body (i.e., you hold the toy by the right side of her body, she reaches across her body with her left hand, or vice versa). You can assist her in rolling from her back to her side as she reaches for the toy. Then once on her side, you can continue to coax her to reach for the toy with that same hand in order to facilitate a roll from her side over to her tummy. You can also play with her while on her back by bending her knees gently toward her belly and rocking them side to side as you sing a song such as Row Row Row Your Boat. This will help her body become more comfortable and familiar with practicing that movement which is used to initiate the roll from back to side. Keep playing with her on the floor and I bet she will get it eventually. Good luck!

  23. Can you please explain to me in really basic terms what you mean in 4 and 7? What are rounded positions and what does it mean to play at and cross their midline?
    I’ve never heard these terms before, but would like to give everything a go. Sorry if this is a really silly question 🙂

    • Sure thing, Bec. A rounded position would be like a “tucked” position that you see in the picture. Think of the position a baby is in when he is laying on his back and he brings his feet up to his hands or mouth. That’s the rounded position I’m talking about. And “midline” is like an invisible line that runs down the center of the body and separates it into right and left sides. (There are other kinds of midlines too, but we won’t go there right now…) Whenever a person reaches “across the midline” — such as using the right hand to reach across to the left side of the body — it causes the left and right sides of the brain to communicate with each other, and it strengthens their connection to each other. This is a good thing! So encourage that sort of play with baby (as demonstrated in the pictures) as a means of preparing his brain and body to get ready to roll. Best of luck!

  24. Thank you for this wonderful post! I cant wait to try this with my my 6 month old (who is in the 4% – no other delays, born on time). He used to roll over from tummy to back around 4 months and then just as soon as he started to do it, stopped. He has met all his other milestones on time, has great head control, and can roll from back to side easily. He still needs support sitting up, but can sit up for a few moments without support. He also really loves standing with some support and would prefer that over sitting/tummy time, etc. He can do tummy time for a bit longer when he is entertained or distracted but otherwise hates it. Is his lack of rolling a regression and should I be concerned? Thanks so much!

    • Sara, he sounds like a strong baby! Definitely give the suggestions in this post a try. It’s good he is strong enough to sit without support for a few moments. Check out this post about helping babies develop functional sitting skills: http://mamaot.com/2013/07/14/to-sit-or-not-to-sit-developing-functional-sitting-skills-in-babies/. If possible, do your best to avoid placing him in a standing position until he is pulling himself up to standing on his own. I find that when babies who already dislike tummy time are then placed in sitting and standing, they learn to dislike it even more because they would much rather be placed in the “easier” upright position. Same goes for baby equipment such as exersaucers and jumpers. Avoid if possible at this age in order to give him the best chance of building those core and shoulder muscles (and even muscles related to eye control!) to lay a good foundation for the future. Here is a post that gives detailed ideas of how to support babies’ development from tummy time all the way to walking through the use of a baby play table: http://mamaot.com/2012/10/31/8ways-to-use-a-baby-play-table/ Good luck!

      • Hi Christie,

        I have been using all these tips since the beginning of the week and am proud to say that my LO is now rolling over! He is also less fussy about tummy time (although he still fusses every now and then). He seems to have an easier time pushing up all the way, too. Thank you for all the tips!

      • Thanks for sharing, Sara, that is so exciting to hear. Enjoy all the fun milestones to come!

  25. Hi, I’m from Bulgaria and found your blog searching for information about rolling over.Thank you so much about sharing this -thanks to your tips my daughter learnt how to roll over from back to tummy.She has figured out how to do it from back to side but had a hard time doing it all the way. It took her almost 2 weeks to learn , she was stubborn, so was I.We did each and every exercise you have given, so thank you so much.Now we have to work on tummy time more, the pediatrics here in my country just tell us to put babies on their bellies but don’t say how to cope with babies if they can’t stand more than 5 minutes in that position.I’m planning to use the ball idea you have given.

  26. Great tips. My son started rolling back to front about 2 weeks ago. Now, almost as soon as we put him down on his back, he rolls right over. When I change his diaper, for play time, etc. I almost cannot keep him on his back anymore unless I am right there playing with him and preventing him from rolling over so that he gets some back or side time. I am wondering if this is normal or not. He also does not seem interested in rolling front to back. He did it once a few weeks ago but not since.

    • Congrats to your little guy! Yes, it is totally expected that once they learn to roll from back to front, they do not want to stay on their back when placed in that position! You definitely have to watch out for safety now with things like diaper changes if he’s on a changing table. The more time he spends on his tummy (especially now that it’s his choice to be there), the more comfortable he should get with pushing up on his forearms and, eventually, his hands. As he progresses with that skill, you should see him becoming more able to easily transition his body weight to his weight bearing arm when playing and reaching for a toy. The more comfortable he becomes with shifting his weight while reaching, the more he will be able to initiate and control the ability to roll from tummy to back. Continue to get down at his eye level to talk, sing, read books, play with toys, and just be silly while he is playing on his tummy and you’ll probably see him progress to using both ways of rolling!

  27. Pingback: Better than a Bumbo: 5 Ways to Support a Wobbly Sitter -Mama OT

  28. Momma OT, my son is 5.5 months old. He rolls from back to stomach but not from stomach to back. He’s rather big for his age, 23 pounds. Do you think this has something to do with it?

    • In my experience, babies who weigh more can have more difficulty with learning to roll. If the pediatrician is not concerned about the weight, then just keep offering him play time experiences on the floor to promote that strengthening of the arms, shoulders, and trunk! Here is a page on my blog that may help with some more play ideas and information: http://mamaot.com/developmental-milestones/

  29. Pingback: A Year in Review: Top Posts on Mama OT {2014} - Mama OTMama OT

  30. Pingback: SHE ROLLED OVER!!! - A WordPress Site

  31. Hi. My LO rolled a few times when she was around 2.5-3 months. She is 4.5 months and a few days and has no interest in Rolling over. She nurses in bed with me turned to the side just fine. However when we are doing tummy time and I try and roll her to her side she immediately moves her head back and ends up on her back. I will try and incorporate the sideway play. That seems like it might help. She does grab her toes with her hands and rock side to side and is very interested in sitting up. A little wobbly but constantly lifting her head when she is on her back. This is my second. My son was rolling much sooner. It’s hard not to compare milestones.

  32. Thanks for info. My bb just end 5 month, he didnt roll over yet and i was a little bit worried, but three days ago we started to exercise with him as you show. And today he roll over! Just once to grab my glasses, but he did it. It looks like he know what to do with leg, back and hips, just he cant lift his head when he’s on his side and suposed to do this final move.
    I hope he will do that more often now.

  33. I am a new mom, with a 6 month old baby girl! I always have her in her sit up chair most of the day! I didn’t realize how comparative it is to have her explore on her own! Now her has rolled over from back to stomach a few times and rolls over to both sides frequently, but im still rather worried

  34. My LO figured out how to roll from back to tummy first. When we put her on her tummy, she lifts her head and legs off the floor and her arms sweep out to the sides. We try to encourage her to reach forward with her hands by helping her place them, putting toys in front of her, etc. She’ll now play for a little while on her tummy that way, but she hasn’t seemed interested in learning to roll from tummy to back. In fact, she seems more interested in going straight to learning to sit up.

    We do help her practice rolling from tummy to back, but she just doesn’t seem interseted in doing it on her own. Any tips?

  35. Pingback: 10 Amazing Tips For Helping Babies Learn To Roll | Life Lovers

  36. Pingback: Simple Baby Play: Tissue Paper Kicking -Mama OT

  37. Hi my son was 6 weeks early. He rolled back to tummy around 4 months a handful of times but now seems to try but definitely gets stuck and gets really frustrated when attempting to do so. It’s weird because before he could do so effortlessly. He’s 6 and a half months now. my full term daughter was rolling across the room at this age. I try not to compare but its hard not too.

    • Oh, I know it’s so hard not to compare children and their milestones! Developmentally speaking, premature babies tend to be tracked based on the “adjusted age” until age 2. So he would be 5 months old “adjusted” at the time you commented. That is still considered within the average range for learning to roll from back to belly, so don’t get discouraged! How is he doing now? Sometimes play time on the right side and left side can help babies become a little more comfortable with figuring out how to “finish” off that rolling action from their side to their belly, which is what usually trips them up. I have more suggestions for playing in all positions on the floor on my Developmental Milestones page if you’re interested!: http://mamaot.com/developmental-milestones/

  38. Pingback: Exercises To Help Baby Roll From Tummy To Back

  39. Pingback: Does Crawling Matter?: The Benefits of CrawlingMama OT

  40. Hi! I love these tips. My guy is 12.5 weeks and has rolled a few times (mostly at 8 weeks and only a few times since) but just doesn’t do it consistently at all. He has awesome upper-body and neck/head strength so I want to help him along. I love the ball tip! I’m curious if you have any advice about guiding him/rocking him while he’s on his tummy. It’s easy to rock his legs sideways when he’s on his back but in having trouble doing it on his tummy! Any advice would be great 🙂

    Thank you!

    • If you try doing tummy time with his arms and chest on a pillow (just a regular rectangle pillow from your bed or a throw pillow from the couch), then you can hold onto the edges of the pillow and rock side to side just like you would on an exercise ball. If the pillow is long enough, you could even place his whole body on it and do a whole body rock. I bet he would really enjoy it if he did this while looking at himself in the mirror too! I always love to sing while rocking with babies, such as Row Your Boat, Wheels on the Bus, ABC, Itsy Bitsy Spider…anything with a slow, repetitive rhythm so you can match the movements to the speed and rhythm of the song. Please let me know how this goes and if he likes it, and thanks for taking the time to comment!

  41. Wonderful post – my little guy who just turned four months is struggling with rolling. I will definitely try to incorporate some of these into our daily routine.

    I do have a question, my little guy gets about 20 minutes a day on his belly and about 15 minutes sitting up daily. He does awesome on his boppy but on the floor is another story. He looks like he’s doing the “superman” exercise and not using his arms to bear any weight. He does not have this issue when it comes to standing, in fact he loves it. My question is, what can I do to encourage him to put weight on his arms to help him sit up? Should I decrease his time on the boppy? I didn’t know if this is something I should be concerned about.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! If he just turned 4 months, it is still on the early end to be sitting. Don’t worry too much about sitting right now! So much of sitting success is dependent on core strength and stability, which is developed through play time on the floor such as tummy time and rolling. Check out my page that covers developmental milestones for the first year, with links to posts with more info and activity ideas to encourage each milestone: mamaot.com/developmental-milestones/ Have fun!

      • Thank you for the feedback.

        I do have another quick question – when on his belly during tummy time he does not use his arms to prop himself up. Will this affect him rolling?

        He has not rolled yet and I am a bit concerned.

      • Often when babies begin to roll thy do it on “accident” after they have pushed themselves up with their chest off the floor and they sort of tip over sideways and are all of a sudden on their back! If your little one isn’t pushing up off the floor with hands yet, then that can make it harder to roll. Playing with babies on an exercise ball is a really good way to give them a chance to practice bearing weight into their hands/arms at a level of difficulty that matches their ability level. If you visit the Developmental Milestones page I mentioned, you will find a link to one of my posts about how to play with baby on an exercise ball during tummy time. I hope that helps.

  42. Hi!
    My baby has been rolling back to tummy since a few days before she turned 3 months and will only sleep on her tummy now. She just turned 4 months today and doesn’t seem anywhere ready to rolling tummy to back. She can lift her chest off the floor by pushing up with her hands and sometimes just lift her head. What are the best ways to only focus on tummy to back? Does rolling both ways often happen close on timing or is there no connection?

  43. Hi, my son is 5.5 months old. He can sit up on his own pretty well (about 10 mins at a time) but he’s having some trouble with rolling. He doesn’t like tummy time and rolls over when put there, but he does so mostly using his neck. On his back he kicks his legs a lot and plays with his hands but doesn’t roll to either side or roll over. He will follow an object but not move his hands towards it if you move the object to either side of his head. His vision is good, but he is just not motivated to roll or move at all when he’s on the floor. Any suggestions?

  44. He also refuses to play on his sides, he just rolls back to his back even if we put towels, etc, there. I’ve used an exercise ball too (my husband is a PT).

    • Thanks for your comment. Before I read your 2nd comment I was going to ask how he does when playing on his side. Have you ruled out reflux or any other internal issues that might make tummy and side play uncomfortable for him?

      Take a look at my Developmental Milestones page for more ideas:

      • He does have reflux, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. We can’t figure out why he doesn’t like to play on his side or tummy. We do know that he’s thin (10%ile) but tall with a big head (both 50% in height and head size) so the doctor thinks it’s harder for him to lift his head since he doesn’t weight much and thus most of his weight is in his head. Does this make sense? I read the milestone page, do you have any other suggestions to help him?

      • Did you read through the links in the categories related to tummy time and side lying play?

        If he is not in pain, then playing on the exercise ball is a great way to gradually work to being able to tolerate tummy play while moving back and forth and side to side. http://mamaot.com/use-therapy-ball-make-tummy-time-easier-fun-baby/

        If you continue to have concerns, keep in touch with the pediatrician and he/she can help you navigate next steps. Good luck!

Comments are closed.