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 its impact it can have on your little one’s sleep.
In This Article
In our blog about the impact of growth milestones on infant sleep we dive into why mobility milestones 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, the answer varies slightly from baby to baby. Everyone grows and develops differently! Generally though, babies begin to show 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 start rolling over on their own.
Your baby learning to roll over is not as straightforward as you might think. 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 start rolling over from tummy to back (back to tummy comes a bit later)! So, around 4 months old, tummy to back rolling will come first. You might notice your baby start 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 are usually able to roll from their back onto their tummy around 6 months old. At this point they will be able to roll autonomously in either direction. This is the point when it might begin to impact your little one’s sleeping habits.
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 encourage your baby to roll over.
- Lots of tummy time...
Tummy time is critical to strengthen your baby’s back, neck, and arm muscles - which are all the muscles that will eventually help them successfully through that first roll! So, be sure to practice tummy time early and often during their wake windows.
- Use stimulation to motivate your baby.
Noise or visual stimulation can motivate your baby and encourage them to begin trying to roll over. Try playing music to the left or right of your little one during tummy time. You’ll see their attention turn to the sound, and once their head turns to the sound, after some practice, they’re 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 baby sleeping on their tummy brings up some concern. Something to note here is that after 6 months of age, the risk of SIDS in babies goes down significantly. Learn about SIDS and much more in our ABC's of safe sleep blog.
After your baby learns to roll over in either direction on their own you might notice them begin to roll onto their tummy 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.