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Helping your baby learn to roll

It’s time for some rock ‘n roll! Around five months, most babies show a strong interest in moving on their own and rolling is one way to test their new independent mobility skills. On average, babies tend to roll from belly to back between 3 - 5 months and back to belly around 5 - 7 months. Regardless of when your baby starts rolling, most first rolls are accidental movements that happen during playtime.

Rolling from belly to back (and later, back to tummy) is considered a significant milestone because it lays the foundation for other major gross motor milestones such as sitting up and crawling and even fine motor skills such as writing. It’s also the first time your baby will be mobile on their own and can start choosing where they want to go.

Here are the top 5 ways recommended by occupational therapists to help your baby roll:

  • Assist them
  • When you pick up your baby, roll them onto their side first. This makes them familiar with the motion, which they can attempt to recreate. When they play on their tummy, you see them try to roll, gently guide their bodies through the movement.

  • Use a toy
  • While on their tummy, shake your baby’s favourite toy in front of them. Once they look at it, gently move it to the side and over their shoulder as they track it with their eyes. Babies usually manage to roll onto their side, which is an excellent way to familiarize them with rolling.

  • Let them play on their side
  • Roll up a towel or small blanket and place it behind their backs while they are on their side. Give your baby some fun toys to play with while in this position. You can slowly move the blanket further away each time to encourage your baby to play on their backs too.

  • Give your baby equal time on their back, left side, right side and tummy
  • Allowing your baby to tuck his knees to his chest and kicking something above his hips helps strengthen his core muscles which he will use when rolling.

  • Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time
  • We can’t say it enough! Plenty of tummy time will allow your baby to strengthen his neck and back muscles necessary for arching against gravity - a mini-milestone that leads to rolling. Tummy time also allows your baby to push up on his arms which makes it easier to roll. If your baby still hates tummy time with a passion, check out our blog on tummy time ideas your baby won’t hate.

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