When Does a Baby Start to Roll Over?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 28, 2021

Babies grow at different speeds. There are established developmental milestones that let you compare your baby's growth to the average expected growth. 

The weeks and months listed below are general and good for comparison. However, you shouldn’t be concerned if your baby develops a little faster or slower. 

Introducing Babies to Rolling Over

Tummy time. This is an important first step for getting your baby to roll over. Tummy time can begin around 0 to 6 months. This is when you put your baby on their belly during supervised playtime. 30 minutes spread throughout the day is good for babies.

Tummy time will help your baby stretch and strengthen their neck and head. Their shoulder and back muscles are also involved. This helps your baby to develop sensory-perceptual, balance, visual, and problem-solving skills. Doing tummy time each day will strengthen your baby’s muscles to prepare them to roll over and eventually sit up.

Babies will typically start rolling over at 4 months. This will start with them rocking themselves back and forth. Your baby will likely roll from tummy to the back before they roll from the back to the tummy. At around 6 months your baby should be able to roll over both sides instead of the initial one.

Benefits of Babies Rolling Over

Between 3 and 4 months your baby is learning a lot about movement. They might start showing more emotion and laughing and smiling. 

Move and stretch. Letting your baby move and stretch will help them strengthen their bodies and prepare for advanced movement. When they’re on their belly they’ll reach out for toys and start to use their hands and fingers more. During this time, you can help your baby sit up and learn to control their head movements. Eventually, they’ll need less support. 

These are all important parts of helping your child roll over. Learning these different movements and emotions can help their physical and cognitive skills. 

How to Encourage Rolling Over

The chest position. The first step of rolling over is tummy time, as discussed earlier. If your baby doesn’t like tummy time, you can try laying them on your chest or over your lap. These positions can help alleviate reflux and discomfort. The chest position also lets your baby see your face. Not being able to see your face might be one of the reasons they’re upset. 

Get on the floor. Move down to your baby's level and play with them. Talking to them, singing, reading books, or playing with toys are all fun ways to engage your baby during tummy time. Smile at your baby to make them feel safe and happy during this time. Smiling, in general, helps your baby’s brain development and improves your bond with your baby. 

Use rhythm. Using rhythm and movement when your baby is trying to roll over helps develop their roll-over skills. Music in short periods can help introduce rhythm to your baby’s tummy time. 

Don’t be discouraged if your baby struggles to roll over even after all of these different encouragements. All babies develop differently. 

Safety Precautions for Babies Rolling Over

As your baby grows and learns new things, you'll want to make sure they're moving safely.

Stop swaddling. When your baby starts regularly rolling over between 4 and 6 months, you’ll need to switch up their sleeping routine. You should stop swaddling them once they start to roll over. After 3 months, it’s best to leave your baby’s arms free. If your baby is in a bassinet, you’ll want to transfer them over to a crib for safety

Remove hazards. As your baby starts to roll around in their crib, make sure there are no blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals that they could get wrapped up in. This can cause SIDs. It’s best to let your baby find their natural sleeping position. Using devices that keep them in a specific sleep position can be dangerous.  

Watch for problems. Another precaution to take when your child is in the age range to roll over is to watch their development. If you notice that your baby is losing skills that they had previously you may want to talk to their doctor. 

Be concerned if your child isn’t lifting their head, keeping control over their head when sitting, or reaching for toys. If your baby doesn’t notice their hands or keeps them in fists, this may indicate a developmental disorder.

Show Sources



help me GROW: “Baby Milestones — When Babies Sit Up, Roll Over and Crawl.”

PLOS One: “Objective measurement of tummy time in infants (0-6 months): A validation study.” “Movement and play: babies.” “3-4 months: baby development.” 

red nose: “what do we do now that our baby has started to roll over?”

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