“When will my baby roll over?” Most parents have thought this at one time or another—especially when you see other, younger babies already doing so.
While it may feel like a competition, or even a concern if your kid isn’t “getting it,” it’s not an exact science as to when it will happen.
The reason is because rolling over is a gradually learned skill that builds for a long time before the baby actually rolls over. There’s also the difference between rolling from front to back and back to front (which take different skills and muscles).
Read on to get an idea of when your baby will likely meet this milestone.
When do babies roll over?
Unfortunately, there’s no specific point when your baby will roll over. Some begin rolling over at 3 months, and others don’t really get it until closer to 7 months. If you ask your friends “when did your baby roll over?” you’ll get a wide range of answers for two reasons:
- A baby’s weight can affect when he or she rolls over.
- A baby’s muscles develop at different times depending on how active they are and how much tummy time and floor time they get.
Front-to-back, back-to front: What is considered rolling over?
The rolling over milestone is not as concrete as others, such as when babies start walking.
- Some babies can roll from back to front but not front to back (or vice versa).
- Some can roll one way but can’t get back.
- Others can roll over and over while others don’t.
Do all of these count as rolling over? Must baby be a rolling pro before he’s officially reached this milestone?
The answer really depends on who you ask, but most babies can roll from front to back and back to front by 7 months of age, making that a good gauge for this milestone.
Developmental milestones that lead to rolling over
Below are some typical age ranges for developmental milestones that help baby reach the big “rolling over” milestone.
2-3 months: Baby begins to turn from his back to his side. From this position he can reach for toys but is still unstable and has to focus on staying balanced. When this position becomes easier, baby might relax a bit more and accidentally roll onto his tummy or his back. If it’s his tummy he lands on, he may not be too happy!
On the other hand, some babies actually can roll from tummy to back fairly easily at this stage. Soon he will learn how to lift his head and begin doing the push-up position which strengthens his back in preparation for rolling over. However, once he begins lifting his head he may again have trouble rolling from tummy to back for a short time.
4-7 months: Baby will continue strengthening his back and neck in the push-up position and may spend more time there playing. He practices stretching and reaching which tones his trunk (body) in preparation for rolling over, crawling, and sitting.
At some point during this timeframe, your child will learn how to roll from front-to-back and back-to-front and may even start rolling across the floor (though that may be closer to 8 months)!
Keep in mind that some babies start developing their sitting skill quickly and may skip a lot of rolling and go straight to sitting and scooting. If this is your child, there’s no cause for alarm, he or she is still progressing developmentally. However, if your baby is not doing any of these things by 7 months, check with your pediatrician.
What about preemies?
Babies who were born prematurely will often reach developmental milestones at a similar time or a little bit later than full term babies if you use their corrected age. So if your 6-month-old child was born 2 months early, her corrected age is 4 months (how old she would be if she were born near her due date).
Micro-preemies or preemies who have health issues may not fall on the same developmental timeline so you should talk with your pediatrician about when your child should reach developmental milestones such as rolling over.
How to help your baby roll over
Every child is unique and, though they usually fit into a similar path, each child has subtle differences in their developmental journey — especially when it comes to rolling over. Here are some tips for helping your child reach the rolling over milestone naturally:
- Trust your baby. If each child has his own way of learning things, the best thing to do is to sit back and allow his natural development to unfold. Of course, you should also be aware of what’s not normal so you can consult a professional if needed (if your baby isn’t rolling over by 7 months, consult your pediatrician).
- Don’t prop baby on his side (unless he’s sleeping) so that he can have practice using those muscles to balance.
- In fact, don’t prop baby at all, if possible, so he can naturally develop those muscles and balance. Dr. Emmi Pikler, the famed Hungarian pediatrician, found that babies who were allowed to naturally develop (meaning not put into positions they couldn’t get into themselves) were often more strong, stable, and confident in their movements.
How about you?
When did your child learn to roll over? Was it similar to or different from other children?