When do babies roll over

Most babies begin to show sign of being able to roll over from his tummy to his back as early as age 4 months. Some babies begin rolling onto their tummy earlier than this, and some not until later. This is perfectly normal, as babies develop differently. Babies will rock from side to side, a motion that is the foundation for rolling over. They may also roll over from tummy to back. At 6 months old, babies will typically roll over in both directions. It’s common for babies to roll over from tummy to back for a month or two before rolling over from their back to front.

To encourage rolling over, place your baby on a blanket on the floor with a toy or book to one side near him/her to reach toward with her arms.

It can be very nerve racking once baby is starting to roll over. If baby can roll in both directions unaided – that is they are able to roll onto their side/front and then back onto their back themselves, then it is OK to put baby to sleep on their back and let them find their own natural sleeping position.

If baby can only roll unaided in one direction, then you should gently roll them back on to their back whenever you see they have rolled onto their front or side.

It’s essential to stop wrapping your baby as soon as your baby starts showing signs that she/he can begin to roll, usually between 4-6 months. If you wrap your baby, consider baby’s stage of development. Leave arms free once the startle reflex disappears around 3 months.

  • If you are using a bassinet, it is time to transfer your baby into a cot as soon as they first show signs of being able to roll.
  • Give baby extra tummy time to play when awake and supervised, as this helps baby to develop stronger neck and upper body muscles which enables them to roll back over. It’s best to start giving baby supervised tummy time from birth.
  • Consider using a safe baby sleeping bag as these may delay rolling.
  • If you use blankets, make sure baby’s feet are touching the bottom of the cot and that the blanket can only reach baby’s chest to prevent baby wriggling under the blanket. Tuck the blanket in securely.
  • Make sure baby is on a firm and well-fitting mattress that is flat (never tilted or elevated).
  • Make sure baby’s face and head remains uncovered (do not use lambswool, duvet, pillows, cot bumpers or soft toys).

As babies grow and develop they become very active and learn to roll around in the cot.

At this time, continue to put them on the back at the start of sleep time, but let them find their own natural sleeping position. By this stage it is not necessary to wake during the night to turn baby over to the back position.

Do not use any devices designed to keep baby in a particular sleep position. These can be dangerous and they are not recommended.

Make sure you follow our safe sleep advice – put baby down to sleep on their back, make sure their face and head remain uncovered, and make sure the cot is safe with a firm flat mattress and with no additional items in the cot including pillows, loose sheets or blankets.

Six steps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS):

  1. Put baby on the back to sleep from birth
  2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
  3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
  4. Sleep baby in a safe environment: Safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding, safe environment.
  5. Sleep baby in its own safe cot in the same room as the adult caregiver for the first 12 months
  6. Breastfeed baby.

How do babies learn to roll over?

At about 3 months, when placed on his stomach, your baby will lift his head and shoulders high, using his arms for support. This mini-pushup helps him strengthen the muscles he’ll use to roll over. He’ll amaze you (and himself!) the first time he flips over. While babies often flip from front to back first, doing it the other way is perfectly normal, too.

At 5 months your baby will probably be able to lift his head, push up on his arms, and arch his back to lift his chest off the ground. He may even rock on his stomach, kick his legs, and swim with his arms.

All these exercises help him develop the muscles he needs to roll over in both directions – likely by the time he’s about 6 months old.

While some babies adopt rolling as their primary mode of ground transportation for a while, others skip it altogether and move on to sitting, lunging, and crawling. As long as your child continues to gain new skills and shows interest in getting around and exploring his environment, don’t worry.

When do babies crawl?

At 6 months old, babies will rock back and forth on hands and knees. This is a building block to crawling. As the child rocks, he may start to crawl backward before moving forward. By 9 months old, babies typically creep and crawl. Some babies do a commando-type crawl, pulling themselves along the floor by their arms.

To encourage a child’s crawling development, allow your baby to play on the floor in a safe area away from stairs. Place favorite toys just out of reach as the baby is rocking back and forth. Encourage him/her to reach for his/her toy.

As your baby becomes more mobile, it’s important to childproof your home. Lock up household cleaning, laundry, lawn care and car care products. Use safety gates and lock doors to outside and the basement.

When do babies sit up?

Babies must be able to hold their heads up without support and have enough upper body strength before being able to sit up on their own. Babies often can hold their heads up around 2 months, and begin to push up with their arms while lying on their stomachs.

At 4 months, a baby typically can hold his/her head steady without support, and at 6 months, he/she begins to sit with a little help. At 9 months he/she sits well without support, and gets in and out of a sitting position but may require help. At 12 months, he/she gets into the sitting position without help.

Tummy time helps strengthen the upper body and neck muscles that your baby needs to sit up. Around 6 months, encourage sitting up by helping your baby to sit or support him/her with pillows to allow him/her to look around.

After your baby sits up – what’s next?

Your baby developed his leg, neck, back, and arm muscles while learning to roll over. Now he’ll put those same muscles to work as he learns to sit independently and crawl. Most babies have mastered sitting up sometime between 6 and 8 months; crawling comes a little later.

Motor developmental milestones for children from baby to 5 years of age


  • Turns head easily from side to side. When lying on back, moves head one way and then another.
  • Comforts self by bringing hands to face to suck on fingers or fist.
  • Keeps hands mostly closed and fisted.
  • Blinks at bright lights.

1 Month

  • Raises head slightly off floor when lying on stomach.
  • Holds head up momentarily when supported.
  • Keeps hands in closed fists.
  • Comforts self by sucking on fist or fingers.

2 Months

  • Holds head up and begins to push up with arms when lying on stomach.
  • Makes smoother movements with arms and legs.
  • Moves both arms and both legs equally well.
  • Brings hands to mouth.

3 Months

  • Lifts head and chest when lying on stomach.
  • Moves arms and legs easily and vigorously.
  • Shows improved head control.

4 Months

  • Holds head steady without support.
  • Grabs and shakes toys, brings hands to mouth.
  • Pushes down on legs when feet are placed on a hard surface.
  • Pushes up to elbows when lying on stomach.
  • Rocks from side to side and may roll over from tummy to back.

6 Months

  • Rolls over in both directions.
  • Begins to sit with a little help.
  • Supports weight on both legs when standing, and might bounce.
  • Rocks back and forth on hands and knees, may crawl backward before moving forward.

9 Months

  • Gets in and out of sitting position, and sits well without support.
    Creeps or crawls.
  • Pulls to stand and stands, holding on.
  • Begins to take steps while holding on to furniture (cruising).

12 Months

  • Pulls to stand and walks holding on to furniture.
  • Gets into sitting position without help.
  • Begins to stand alone.
  • Begins to take steps alone.

18 Months

  • Walks alone, and begins to run and walk up steps.
  • Walks backward pulling toy.
  • Feeds self with spoon and drinks with cup.
  • Helps dress and undress self.

2 Years

  • Kicks a ball forward.
  • Throws a ball overhand.
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on.
  • Stands on tiptoes.
  • Begins to run.
  • Climbs on and off furniture without help.
  • Puts simple puzzles together.

3 Years

  • Climbs and runs well.
  • Walks up and down stairs, with one foot on each step.
  • Jumps with both feet, and may hop on one foot.
  • Pedals tricycle or three-wheel bike.

4 Years

  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time.
  • Hops and stands on one foot for a few seconds.
  • Pours beverages, cuts with supervision and mashes own food.

5 Years

  • Hops and may be able to skip.
  • Does somersaults.
  • Uses a fork and spoon, and sometimes a table knife.
  • Stands on one foot for at least 10 seconds.
  • Uses the toilet independently.
  • Swings and climbs.

How to teach baby to roll over

You can encourage your baby’s new skill through play. If you notice him rolling over spontaneously, see if he’ll try again by wiggling a toy next to the side he customarily rolls to. Or lie down next to him on one side – just out of reach – and see if he’ll roll to get closer to you. Applaud his efforts and smile. Rolling over is fun, but it can also be alarming the first few times.

Although your baby may not be able to roll over until about 5 months, it’s best to keep your hand on him during diaper changes from the very beginning. Never leave your baby, even when he’s a newborn, unattended on a bed or any other elevated surface. You’d hate for his first rolling-over experience to result in a serious injury.

What to do if your baby doesn’t roll over

If your baby hasn’t figured out how to flip one way or the other by the time he’s about 6 months old, and hasn’t moved on to sit and try to scoot and crawl instead, bring it up the next time you talk to his doctor.

Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others – and some babies never really take to rolling over. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than their peers.

Health Jade Team 3

The author Health Jade Team 3

Health Jade