Infant developmental milestones and sleep are so interconnected, rarely does one happen without impacting the other. And the ability to roll over by themselves is a big leap for your growing baby!
So, we’re sharing when this milestone tends to happen and the impact it can have on your little one’s sleep when baby starts rolling over.
In This Article
n our blog about the impact of growth milestones on infant sleep we dive into why baby milestones relating to mobility within the first year and beyond often correlate with changes in sleep patterns.
And rolling over is no different!
When your baby is able to roll over on their own it will likely impact how they sleep. You might put them down for a nap on their back and return to the nursery to find they’ve taken it upon themselves to roll to their tummy!
Baby rolling over is a big adjustment for your little one and for you, so we’re covering what to expect when you’re expecting more mobility.
What age do babies start to roll to the side or stomach?
It’s a very common question that a lot of parents think about. And as with any developmental milestone moments, the answer varies slightly from baby to baby. Every baby is unique, and so are baby development milestones for every baby!
Generally though, most babies roll, or begin to show the first signs of having the physical ability to roll over, at about 4 months old. Before being able to fully roll over, you might see your little one start rocking back and forth. This is a sure sign that they are almost ready to begin rolling over on their own.
At this point, many babies sit for the first time unsupported as well, or can get into a sitting position by themselves - though this might also take a little time!
Your baby learning to roll over is not as straightforward as you might think, and their early rolling adventures might take some time to practice!
The first time they try this new skill it might look like they're just rocking back and forth, they then begin to be able to roll from tummy to back, and then, potentially after months of growth and learning, they will finally be able to roll autonomously in either direction.
Tummy to Back
Babies begin rolling over from tummy to back (back to tummy comes a bit late!) So, around 4 months old, tummy to back rolling will come first.
You might notice your baby starts rolling on their own during tummy time. They will likely continue rolling from tummy to back only for a period of time before being able to roll either direction - usually between one and two months.
Back to Tummy
Babies roll over from tummy to back when they first start with their early rolls (back to tummy comes a bit later)! So, around 4 months old, tummy to back rolling will come first. You might notice your baby roll on their own during tummy time.
They will likely continue rolling from tummy to back only for a period of time before being able to roll either direction - usually between one and two months.
Pro Tip: How to Help Your Infant Roll Over
As we mentioned earlier, every baby is different and grows at their own pace. But, if you want to help encourage your baby’s growth toward this milestone, here are some ways to help your baby roll over.
Lots of tummy time...
Tummy time is critical to strengthen your baby’s back muscles, arm muscles, and neck muscles - which are all the upper body muscles that will eventually help them successfully through that first roll! So, be sure to practice this early and often during their wake windows.
- Use stimulation to motivate your baby.
Noise or visual stimulation can motivate your baby and help your baby roll over. Try playing music to the left or right of your little one during tummy time to encourage some baby rolls. You’ll see their attention turn to the sound, and once their head turns to the sound, after some practice, their body will eventually follow.
You probably know that to reduce the risk of SIDS it’s important for your baby's sleeping position to be laying flat on their back, so it is totally understandable that the thought of young babies sleeping on their tummy brings up some concern.
After your baby learns to roll over in either direction on their own you might notice them begin to roll onto their tummy or side during nap time or at night. At this point in development, it’s fine to let your little one sleep on their tummy if they roll onto it autonomously.
Although you should continue putting baby to bed on their back, they now have the physical ability to roll over onto their tummy and to roll back onto their back if they need to.
If you notice that your baby often rolls onto their tummy during sleep, they likely prefer sleeping on their stomach. Our Zen Sack™ is the perfect sleepwear option for tummy sleepers because it’s easily reversible.
The sleep sack can be reversed so the lightly weighted pad is on the back instead of the chest for babies who are more comfortable sleeping on their stomach.
Common questions from new parents on when do babies roll over
At 4 months old most babies often begin to roll from their tummy to their back. Then at about 6 months old, baby will begin to have the physical ability to roll independently in either direction.
However, every child's development is unique to them, so it's perfectly normal to see babies rolling a little earlier or later than this!
Babies learn how to roll over pretty naturally on their own, but ensuring that your little one gets tummy time during their wake windows consistently can help encourage rolling over.
You can also use auditory and visual stimulation to motivate your baby to roll over while on their back or on their tummy. However, always make sure that you're keeping your baby from rolling if they're on an elevated surface like a changing table.
When your little one can roll autonomously in either direction you can begin to let them sleep on their tummy. However, you should continue to put baby on their back to sleep, and if they prefer to sleep on their stomach they will adjust themselves in the middle of the night.
Always check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about sleep safety or your infant's sleep position. You can also check advice from academic research institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recommend that babies are put on their backs to sleep with no objects like blankets or stuffed animals in the crib before 12 months.
If you find that baby only sleeps on you, or starts to cry and fuss when you put them down to sleep in their crib, it may be due to the negative sleep association that has been created between you holding baby and sleep.
One way of combating this is to try our Zen Sack - gently weighted to mimic your soothing touch, this will help your baby learn to self soothe and fall asleep on their own.
If you have a rolling baby who often rolls onto their tummy during sleep, our Zen Sack is the perfect sleepwear option for tummy sleepers because it’s easily reversible. You can simply reposition the weighted patch to be on the back instead of the chest.
You Might Also Like:
- The Impact of Growth Milestones on Infant Sleep
- Moro Reflex: What is it and How Can Swaddling Help?
- Your baby's nap schedule: how to nail it!
- Sleep Training Guide: How to sleep train
- Ask the Experts: Co-sleeping