When Do Babies Roll Over?

baby tummy time

 Amy Newton-McConnel / Getty Images

Oh, the exciting milestone of rolling over! This is your baby’s first foray into the world of mobility, and you may be anxious for your little one to make the leap from quiet, in-arms baby, to full blown world explorer!

As you begin to think about your baby reaching this milestone, you will likely have questions. If your baby doesn’t seem to be interested in rolling over, or seems far away from being able to, you may wonder if this is something to be concerned about.

You also may simply be unsure when exactly rolling over is supposed to happen. Is your baby early or late to the task? What is normal?

When to Expect Your Baby to Roll Over

Although there is a range when it comes to rolling over, most babies start to show some rolling over skills by about four months old.

Your baby will start by rolling from their tummy to their back—and some babies even start demonstrating this skill by three months. In the next few months, your baby will perfect this skill.

Most babies are able to roll from tummy to back, as well as back to tummy, by the time they are six months old.

Other physical milestones you may notice starting at about four months old:

  • The ability to hold their head up without support
  • The ability to push down on their legs to the feet when placed on a firm surface
  • The ability hold a small toy
  • The ability to push up on their elbows while lying on their tummy (like a baby pushup)

As long as your baby is beginning to practice these skills at about four months—even if they have not mastered them—they are likely on track. If your baby has no rolling or simple mobility skills by six months, you should contact your doctor.

How to Prepare For Rolling Over

Most pediatricians recommend you give your baby “tummy time” every day starting from their earliest days.

Tummy time is simply placing your baby on their tummy in a safe, comfortable area, and then letting them play. You can place them on a playmat, or you may just want to place them directly on your belly as you gently hold them in place.

Some babies do not enjoy tummy time at first, and you shouldn’t force them to do it, especially if they are fussy or cry.

Although the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 3 to 5 minutes of tummy time, 2 to 3 times a day, you don’t have to do it in a very formal way and you don't need to or count the minutes or number of days you do it, especially if your baby isn’t enjoying it yet. Doing tummy time spontaneously and with playfulness is best.

The AAP has some tips for making tummy time easier for you and your baby:

  • Don’t attempt tummy time when your baby is fussy
  • Make sure your baby has a clean diaper and isn’t overtired
  • Consider trying tummy time when your baby wakes up from a nap and is refreshed
  • Try putting a toy within arms reach of your baby to entice them
  • Try tummy time in very small chunks at first, never forcing your baby to do tummy time if they seem upset
  • Always supervise your baby during tummy time
  • Interact with your baby during tummy time, and keep things light and fun
  • Make eye contact with your baby during tummy time and connect with them

What If Your Baby Isn’t Rolling Over?

Again, there is a range of normal when it comes to rolling over, with some babies beginning to roll over as early as three months, most babies starting at four months, and other babies taking a little longer.

The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) outlines three scenarios where it might be appropriate to call your pediatrician about your baby’s inability to roll over:

  • If your baby (at any age) stops being able to roll over, after previously being able to do so
  • If, at six months or older, your baby can’t roll both ways (i.e., from belly to back, and from back to belly).
  • If, at six months or older, your baby’s muscles seem especially stiff, or especially floppy

In all of these cases, your baby could still be within the realm of normal. But it’s important to discuss things with your pediatrician so they can rule out anything serious.

How to Make Your Space Safe

Once your baby can roll over, a whole new world opens up for them because they can move! But it also means that you have to be a little more careful as well. Once your baby becomes mobile—or shows signs of mobility—their abilities can take you by surprise.

As such, you should keep a few things in mind:

  • Never leave your baby on an elevated surface, like a changing table or bed, unattended—they can roll over and fall to the floor
  • Make sure to always supervise your baby when they play and remove any choking hazards or toys with loose, dangling strings or detachable parts
  • When it comes to sleep, you should continue to place your baby (up to their first birthday) on their back to sleep as this is the safest sleep position

According to the AAP, if your baby is able to roll on their own from their back to their side or from their back to their stomach, you can leave them be—but only if they are also able to roll from tummy to back as well as back to tummy.

You should continue to follow safe sleep guidelines, which includes putting your baby to sleep on a firm, clear surface, removing all pillows, blankets, toys, and crib bumpers.

A Word From Verywell

Your baby’s first year of life is full of many different milestones. With a baby at home, it can feel like every month—or even every week—is different, with your baby learning and doing new things all the time. Of course, with all of the developmental changes, there is also a touch of worry.

Is my baby meeting milestones at the right time? Are they behind? Am I doing everything I can to facilitate their growth?

These concerns are natural. It’s important to remember that when it comes to baby development, there is some leeway when it comes to timing, and just because a baby does something on the earlier or later side, it’s usually not a problem.

Remember that with the milestone of rolling over, there is a range of when it might happen for your child, and that’s perfectly normal. However, if your child hasn’t reached the milestone by six months—or if you have any concerns at all about their mobility—don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Healthy Children. Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play. Updated January 20, 2017.

  2. Healthy Children. Does My Child Have Physical Developmental Delays? Updated January 20, 2021.

  3. Pediatric Patient Education. Safe Sleep and Your Baby: How Parents Can Reduce the Risk of SIDS and Suffocation. Updated January 20, 2021.

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