Learning to roll over is a big developmental milestone for your baby and can often take you and your baby by surprise. Unaware that she’s in training, your baby will be gradually developing the necessary muscle control and strength needed for this skill.
Whether she’s lying on her tummy or her back, she’ll be straining to lift her head and shoulders. Then one day, she’ll discover that with a bit of effort and wriggling she can roll over and change her perspective of the world.
“Once your baby has sufficient head and neck control, she’ll teach herself to roll over,” says family GP Dr Craig Blackwell. To begin with, she may roll on to her side and become stuck.
Learning to roll usually happens before she learns to sit up, often from around 3 months or 4 months. “But although she may be able to manoeuvre herself from tummy to side and then onto her back as early as 2 to 3 months, it may take her longer to learn to roll the other way,” Dr Craig Blackwell. Rolling from back to front often comes a little later, around 5 or 6 months.
Even when your baby appears to have fully mastered the art of rolling, it may be some time before she’s able to control the direction she goes!
Safety and your rolling baby
Once your baby’s managed that first roll, she’ll very quickly become an expert. So watch out, as there are lots of opportunities for rolling off the bed/changing table/sofa. Once your baby’s started to be capable of any kind of rolling, even if it’s only on to her front and not back again, don’t leave her lying unattended on the bed or sofa.
“If your baby does fall, it’s easy to panic, but try to stay calm until you’ve assessed how much damage there actually is,” says Tricia Blossom, health visitor for North West Leicester.
“Your baby will probably be screaming, but it may be from the shock of falling more than the pain, so see if she calms down with lots of cuddles, or possibly a feed to soothe her. If she’s still crying or seems floppy or listless, see your doctor, or call 999 if you’re really worried.”
“She sat up and smiled at me!”
“I left Elizabeth lying in the middle of our bed while I went off to run her bath. It couldn’t have been for more than about 15 seconds, but as I came back into the bedroom she was just about to roll off our bed. I rushed over to try and catch her but didn’t make it in time and could only watch as Elizabeth landed face down on the floor.
“She immediately let out the biggest cry I’d ever heard. I felt terrible and, once I’d calmed her down, I rang NHS Direct. I was terrified that she might be concussed, but half an hour later she was sitting up and smiling at me!”
Sarah, 33, mum to Elizabeth, 10 months