Rolling Into New Milestones: When Do Babies Roll Over?

Last Updated: 
July 9, 2024
 | 
10
 minutes read
Written by
Amanda Kule
Parent Contributor
Medically reviewed by
Arik Alper, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Aerodigestive Specialist

Rolling over marks a significant step in a baby's physical development and independence – it can be thought of as their first step towards crawling.  

Many parents wonder if their baby is meeting their milestones and may ask questions such as, "When do babies roll over?" Or "When do babies start rolling over from back to belly or tummy to back?". This article will explore when babies turn over on their own, how to teach a baby to roll over, and what to do when a baby starts rolling over, whether during playtime or in their crib. Additionally, we'll address common concerns and share ways you can encourage your baby to roll over.

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When Do Babies Roll Over?

When your baby’s back and neck muscles start to strengthen, and they develop better balance, they will start to show signs that they are ready to roll over. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants begin rolling over between 4 to 7 months, with some starting earlier and others taking a bit longer.  

Some babies start showing signs that they will start rolling over before they do. Other babies can roll one way before they can roll back the other. Which way your baby rolls depends on them – however it’s common for babies to first roll from their tummy to their back.

As your little one gains more control of their bodies and develop stronger muscles, moving and rolling will become much easier – almost like second nature. Keep in mind all babies are unique and can develop on their own timeline. Also, if your baby was born early, keep in mind you should consider their adjusted age.

When do babies roll from tummy to back?

Many babies roll from their belly to their back first, before they can roll from their back to belly. On average babies learn to roll from their back to stomach anywhere starting from 4 months, however they may start showing signs even earlier.  

When do babies roll from back to belly?

It may take a bit more coordination for your baby to learn to roll from back to belly. Oftentimes they will roll over from their back to stomach after they master rolling from stomach to back.  

Signs of Rolling Over

If your baby is getting ready to roll over, you may notice these signs:

  • Increased Tummy Time Strength: Your baby may show improved head and neck control during tummy time, lifting their head higher and for longer periods.  
  • Leg and Arm Movement: Vigorous kicking and pushing with their legs, as well as more active arm movements, indicate that your baby is building the muscles needed to roll over.
  • Rocking Side to Side: Your baby might start rocking from side to side while on their back, a precursor to rolling over.
  • Arching Back: Arching their back while lying on their stomach or back can be a sign they are getting ready to roll.
  • Reaching and Grabbing: Reaching for toys or other objects while on their side or tummy shows increased upper body strength and coordination.
  • Rolling Halfway: Your baby might start rolling from back to side or from tummy to side, indicating they are experimenting with the motion needed to roll completely over.
  • Increased Curiosity: A growing curiosity about their surroundings might motivate your baby to move and roll over to see different perspectives.

Keep in mind if you swaddle your baby for sleep, once they show any of these signs of rolling over, that’s when you should stop swaddling.  

How to teach or encourage your baby to roll over

To teach or encourage your baby to roll over, it’s important to offer them lots of supervised tummy time to build their neck and chest muscles, and to create reasons for them to want to roll over. An example could be offering them fun toys to reach for.

Safety When it Comes to Rolling Over  

When your baby starts to roll over, it’s a big developmental milestone – and a sign that they are on the move. When they can roll it's important for you to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t roll anywhere they shouldn’t.

Here are some recommendations for how to keep your baby safe once they begin to rollover.

  1. Stop Swaddling. Once your baby shows signs of rolling over, stop swaddling and switch to a wearable blanket or sleep sack immediately. Swaddling a baby who can roll is dangerous as they could get stuck in the dangerous position of sleeping on their stomach and not be able to roll back. Side sleeping is dangerous, too.
  1. Supervised Tummy Time: Always supervise your baby during tummy time to prevent any accidents and to encourage safe rolling practice.
  1. Create a Safe Play Space: Make sure the space where your baby plays is free of small objects, sharp edges, and other hazards. Remove toys and blankets that could obstruct rolling or pose a suffocation risk.
  1. Monitor Sleep Positions: Place your baby on their back to sleep. If they roll over onto their stomach to sleep, and are unable to return to their back, gently roll them back. If they can roll both ways, you can let them choose how they sleep.  
  1. Change Diapering Location: Avoid changing your baby on elevated surfaces without a safety strap. Instead, use the floor or a changing pad with raised sides.
  1. Be Mindful of Car Seats and Swings: Never leave your baby unattended or unsecured in a car seat, swing, or bouncer, as they could roll over and fall out.
  1. Stay Alert: Always keep a close eye on your baby, especially when they are on the floor or in an environment that’s not familiar.  

What should you do if baby rolls over in their sleep?

When it comes to safe sleep, babies under one-year-old should always be put to sleep on their back.  

If a baby rolls over in their sleep, they should gently be moved back to their back unless they are physically able to roll back and forth independently.

What to Do if Your Baby Doesn’t Roll Over by 6 Months?

There are different reasons why your baby may not roll over by 6 months old or 7 months old.  

Understanding the signs of rolling over and knowing how to help a baby roll over can ease concerns, especially if a baby is not rolling over by 6 months or 7 months. Your pediatrician is tracking your baby’s development, so if you’re worried that your baby hasn’t yet mastered rolling over, or has stopped rolling over, ask at your next appointment.  

Your pediatrician may also have advice for you to help you support your baby in reaching their developmental milestones. Remember that daily tummy time is key to build the muscles they need to roll over.  

Milestones to Expect After Your Baby Rolls Over

Watching your baby roll over for the first time is an exciting milestone! As your little one continues to grow and develop their movement skills, there are many more milestones that will be just around the corner. Here’s what you can expect after your baby rolls over in the coming months:

  1. Sitting Up: Rolling over strengthens your baby's core muscles, which are essential for sitting up. Usually, between 4 to 7 months, you may notice your baby is able to sit with support. The balance and coordination developed from rolling over will help them gradually move to sitting unassisted.
  1. Crawling: The muscle strength and coordination gained from rolling over are crucial for crawling, which typically starts between 6 to 10 months.  
  1. Pulling Up to Stand: The arm and leg strength developed from rolling over plays a significant role in the milestone of your baby to pull themselves to a standing position. This can happen around 8 to 12 moths.  
  1. Cruising: Once standing is mastered, your baby will start "cruising" around furniture, typically between 9 to 12 months. The balance and stability gained from their core and leg muscles, which were initially built while learning to roll over, will help them as they move around while holding onto furniture.
  1. First Steps: The exciting milestone of first steps can happen between 9 to 15 months. The leg and core strength developed through rolling over, crawling, and cruising are all fundamental for walking. Each phase builds on the previous, making a smooth transition to full-on walking.  

Remember that every baby is different, and your baby may reach each developmental milestone at their own pace. If you have any concerns or questions, speak to your pediatrician.  

Final Thoughts

When your baby starts to roll over is considered one of their first major movement milestones.

While there are many ways to help your baby learn to roll over, every baby is different and will reach the milestone of rolling over at their own pace.  

If you're concerned about when your baby should start to roll over, don’t hesitate to speak to your pediatrician for guidance or advice.  

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FAQs:

All babies develop at their own pace, so rolling over at 3 months is possible. However, most babies start to show signs of starting to roll over closer to 4 months of age.

Some newborns show signs of rolling over as early as 2 months. Every baby is different and may reach the rolling over milestone at different times. Keep in mind it’s more common for babies to start rolling over closer to 4-7 months of age.

You should not be concerned if your baby is not rolling over at 3 months. The average age to roll over is 4 to 7 months of age.

It’s common for a baby to not roll over at 5-months-old. Oftentimes babies don’t show signs of turning over until closer to their half birthday, or beyond. You can speak with your pediatrician at your 5-mont-old's next checkup about when you may expect them to be able to roll over.

Experts recommend you contact your health provider if your baby previously was rolling over but then stopped rolling over. You can also speak to your pediatrician about your baby not rolling overt at their 6-month appointment.

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How We Wrote this Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics, “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 7th ed” (New York: Bantam Books, 2019)

American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children.org, “Movement Milestones: Babies 4 to 7 Months”

Mayo Clinic, “Guide to Your Baby’s First Years, 2nd edition”

Mayo Clinic, “Infant Development”

Mayo Clinic, “Infant and Toddler Health”

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