Helping Your Baby to Roll Over: Age Milestones and Tips


There are many milestones that babies will reach in their first year. One of the most exciting is when they start rolling over! Though it may seem like a simple task, achieving the ability to roll over will help your child be more independent and explore their environment with ease. Being able to roll over is a huge milestone in your baby’s development stages!

Though it won’t happen overnight, you can help your baby roll over by encouraging and increasing tummy time and strategically placing toys to motivate them. You could also try rolling them part of the way yourself.

Here are some of my favorite tips for how to help your baby learn how to roll over, what age milestones you can expect them to reach, and when you should contact a doctor for advice if your child has yet to learn how.

How can I encourage my baby to roll over?

Babies gain important motor skills during the early phases of their development. Like any new skill, they need time to master, and some babies start rolling later than others. You can help them develop strength and acquire muscle memory by encouraging them to perform certain activities. Here are a few tips for getting baby rolling:

Make some of the movements for them

Lay your little one on their back in the middle of a safe, firm area. Roll them over and help them move their hips and land on their tummy. Be very gentle and make sure that their hands are not trapped under their body. Particularly if they’re quite young, you’ll want to make sure baby’s head is well supported. They’ll be able to look after more of this on their own as their neck and shoulder muscles develop.

Do this several times and then see how much they can move on their own. Once your baby is a few months old, you can place a rolled-up towel under their back when they’re in a side-lying position. Getting them used to the sensations they feel as they’re rolling will normalize the movement, and make them more comfortable to roll on their own.

Use toys

An easy way of improving your baby’s motor skills is by using strategic toy placement. Choose some of the toys they love and place them in specific positions so that your baby needs to reach for them. Encourage them to roll over and get the toy. 

You can also move the toys around to encourage baby to move their head from side to side. The movement is a step towards rolling over. Putting toys just out of sight will mean your baby needs to make some independent movement to get what they want. There’s a good chance baby completes a roll before they realize it’s happening themselves.

Increase Tummy Time

Tummy time is essential for increasing strength in the arms, neck, and trunk. If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, you can place them on your chest as you lay back on some pillows or in a recliner chair. Baby’s ability to roll is dependent on their neck muscles, and they’ll need enough upper body strength to build up the momentum to roll.

You might also experiment with propping your baby’s upper body up with a rolled towel or specifically designed pillow – these are a favorite in families where the baby isn’t keen on laying flat on a surface, and helps keep them engaged in their environment.

Exercises and Segmental Movements

Some exercises like bicycle movements and leg trunk exercises are great for improving muscle strength. You can also try segmental movements where only one part of the body is moving. Such exercises will help your baby to start moving independently and experimenting, which will build their upper body strength.

When should a baby be able to roll over on their own?

Your baby will be able to roll over when they can control the movement of their head and have the strength to support their neck. Their arm muscles will also have to strengthen considerably because your baby will be primarily supporting their little body with the help of these muscles. 

Babies tend to learn to roll from belly to back first, since their arms are pushing their body away from the ground, and they’re often not pushing up with both arms evenly. With one arm pushing up more than the other, baby’s body will naturally fall one way or the other, and they’ll have rolled on to their back.

Rolling over from back to belly can often take a bit longer, purely because of the increased muscle strength required to make the movement.

What is the age when you can expect your baby to roll over? 

At two to five months, your baby will be able to turn from belly to back. Then, between four and five and a half months, they will turn from back to the side. For your baby to completely roll over from belly to back and then to belly again, it can take five and a half to almost seven and a half months. 

Rolling over is a gradual process for babies.

Between two to five months of age, the arm muscles develop. Their upper bodies will become stronger. Due to their increased muscular strength, they can support their head and neck on their own and roll over. By seven months of age, most babies can roll over the belly to back and then back to belly. 

Babies learn at their own pace, but keep speaking with your child’s doctor. If there is any concern about your little one hitting typical developmental milestones, they’ll be the first ones you should reach out to.

Track your baby’s growth

If you can, track your baby’s developmental milestones on a chart, or simply keep some notes about their firsts and other skills as they learn them. The following table may be helpful in determining when your baby will develop particular movements. However, if you notice a significant delay, you should visit the doctor.

Age of Movement

One Month
  • Raising their head and holding the position for a moment.

  • Turning head to one side while laying on the back.
  • Two Months
  • Raising the head and pushing upwards while on the belly.

  • Coordinated and smooth arm and leg movements. 

  • Bobbing head while sitting.
  • Three Months
  • Standing on two legs for a moment and able to support some weight.

  • Better control over head movement but still bobs forward while sitting.

  • Raising the head and shoulders at 45 to 90 degrees while on the belly.

  • Strength in forearms.
  • Four Months
  • Can stand when held upright.

  • Control over head movements.

  • Raising head and chest at 90 degrees.

  • Rolling from back to the side.
  • Five Months
  • Holding the head up while sitting.

  • Rolling over from belly to back.
  • Six Months
  • Raising chest and a bit of their belly while lying on their tummy.
  • Rolling over from back to belly.
  • Seven Months
  • Smoother movements when rolling over from belly to back and back to belly.
  • When should I worry that my baby isn’t rolling over?

    There is typically no need to concerned. Your baby will roll over when they’re ready. It might take some babies more time than others – you might find even amongst your own children that they hit key milestones at a different pace to each other, or in a different order.

    Be patient and let your baby explore their motor skills before rolling over. However, babies usually start rolling over by six months of age. Keep a look out for any behavior clues that your infant is preparing to roll over, especially those near misses. Encourage your baby to experiment with tummy time and practice rolling with your assistance.

    What should I do if my baby isn’t rolling over?

    Continually changing how your holding your baby, like over the shoulder or in front of you facing outward, will help them get use to their body being in different positions. If your baby is really interested in something happening in the room, try repositioning yourself so that they have to reach or gently arch to be able to get a good view.

    Don’t spend more than a few minutes on this initially – you’ll want to make sure that your baby is rewarded for stretching and reaching by being able to see the thing that they wanted to see. Each time you do this, you are rewarding them for moving independently and helping their muscle development.

    Ultimately though, if your little one has bypassed the typical time for being able to roll over, and they are showing no signs of trying to do it themselves, it is time to speak with your child’s doctor.

    In conclusion – your baby will learn to roll in their own time, but you can help!

    There are many ways to encourage your baby to start rolling over. One of the most important things you can do is be patient and let them explore how they move on their own time while still helping them practice by providing opportunities for movement in different positions, like having them lie down or sit up. If it’s been more than six months since your little one started showing any signs of trying to roll over on their own, speak with a pediatrician about how best to encourage this milestone. Remember that babies learn at their own pace so just keep talking with your child’s doctor if there is any concern!

    Carly Wight

    Mother of two young boys (6 and 3!) and an avid "Googler", Carly is the kind to research something to the nth degree. Be it about products, hacks, or techniques, she shares what she finds out at her website - Fairy Good Mommy.

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