4 Steps To Get Your Baby Rolling

As a pediatric physical therapist, I am often asked “how can I get my child to walk,” “how can I get my child to crawl,” and other such questions. I like to use the same principles that would motivate me, or other adults I know.baby rolling

A) Encourage an older child to perform something that is beneficial but difficult by letting her know the alternative is something that is (while still beneficial) either more difficult or outright unpleasant.

B) Observe what the child likes (like a specific toy, not like oxygen) and then remove that item a small distance away from her, and return the object (remember toy, NOT oxygen) when she performs the task that you would like him to perform.

Encouraging A Baby To Roll:

Rolling. I would like to use the words supine (lying on one’s back) and prone (lying on one’s tummy). You can toss these words out at your next pediatrician appointment and impress the doctor. (I think most pediatricians have a deal where you get an extra lollipop if you correctly use medical jargon in a sentence.) Rolling
from back to side typically occurs at about 3 months, with rolling from tummy to back (prone to supine) and from back to tummy (supine to prone) at 4 and 5 months respectively.

4 Steps To Encourage A Baby To Roll:

  1. Break it down. Play with your infant while she is on her tummy, play with her while she is on her back, and play with her while she is laying on her side to make sure she is comfortable in each position.
  2. How can I get my child comfortable laying on her side?  You can place your infant on her side with both arms in front of her and then stabilize her at her hips. Use a toy that she can hold and chew and shake. By supporting at her hips, you promote stabilization through her core.
  3. Work the transitions. Let’s use rolling supine to prone over her right side (see above for definitions) as our example. Using a toy that she can reach for and is interested in reaching for (refer to tip “B” above as needed)…
    1. Brush the toy against her left hand to encourage her to reach with that hand and move the toy so she begins to reach to the right, across her body.
    2. With your hand on her left hip, gently bend her hips to 90 degrees and slowly and gently roll her towards her right.
    3. Move very slowly and allow the child to lead the movement.
  4. Repetition is the key. Repetition is the key. Repetition is the key.  I don’t believe I need to expound upon this point further.

Rolling is a wonderful early milestone for your child. It is one of the first locomotor movements she may learn. If your child is not initiating rolling on her own by the age of 6 months, ask your pediatrician for a referral for a gross motor evaluation by a pediatric physical therapist.

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