As always with child development, this is a general guide and not all babies develop rolling skills in this way or at this age.
Rolling from their tummy develops first as they can push off their arms and gain momentum to roll back to their backs. It is one of the reasons why tummy time is recommended so babies can develop their rolling skills (see our blog on tummy time for tips and tricks in making tummy time a success). At around six months babies will then have enough strength and coordination to move themselves from their backs over onto their tummies.
How to support rolling?
- Get into a good routine with tummy time so your baby spends lots of time developing their muscle strength in this position and so they are confident on their tummies. From around three to four months encourage your baby to push up on their arms, by four months they should be proficient at doing this with their arms straight. Hold toys or rattles at just above their eye level to encourage them to push up. It’s also important to encourage them to look to the left and right whilst lying on their tummy with their head and shoulders lifted.
- At five months encourage them to reach for toys being held out of their reach, this will cause them to lift one arm off the floor which will likely cause them to lose control and roll onto their backs. Eventually, they will gain more control and roll with ease.
- It’s important for your baby to play with their hands and feet, try simple activities such as reaching for toys held just above their chest or putting bright socks on their feet for them to explore.
- Encourage them to roll from their back to their side by gently shaking rattles to the side of their eye line or placing toys just out of their reach on one side.
- Encourage reaching across their midline i.e. right arm reaches across their body towards the left side. This helps them to develop their tummy muscles.
- All babies should spend time on their tummies, back, and sides for play. Playing in these different positions helps them to develop their body awareness and readies them for movement.
- Once your baby starts to roll make sure they can roll to both sides. If they prefer one side that’s ok, they may just need some encouragement to go over the other way.
We hope those tips have helped to give you some ideas for supporting your babies rolling skills. As always try to use motivating toys/objects, ensure the area is safe for your baby, and practise skills when your baby is alert and awake.