The second your baby is born, you are bombarded with books, pamphlets, advice and even criticism on how you should parent and what milestones your baby should achieve by the time they reach a certain age. Although at times it can be helpful, a lot of the time it just gets to be very overwhelming. The truth of the matter is that all of that information is generalized and very seldom will your baby be right on track 100% of the time (which is OK!). When it comes to big milestones such as rolling over, parents are often left wondering if something is wrong with their baby because the books say that baby should be rolling over but baby still isn't rolling over! On the flip-side, their baby is rolling early and parents are worried about them flipping onto their stomachs while sleeping.
Looking into that 'generalized information' that doesn't really apply to every baby, most babies begin rolling over between ages three and five months. Juan Carlos Millon, a pediatrician in Florida, says that "it's going to happen when you least expect it, so I start reminding patients at the two-month visit not to leave their babies unattended- even turning your back for three seconds to grab a diaper while they're on the changing table is enough time for them to roll over and end up on the floor." To be on the safe side, from the moment you leave the hospital, you should assume your baby knows how to roll. In doing so, you will help to prevent what could be a very catastrophic fall.
Millon goes on to explain that some babies when they get very upset, will thrash around and arch their backs giving them enough momentum to roll over, but parents shouldn't really consider that them reaching the milestone. You want your baby to do the action on purpose in order to consider it a skill that has been learned. Sarah Johnson, a physical therapist at Riley Children's Health of Indiana University reminds parents that "motor skills can come and go before they get solidly integrated into their repertoire." Just like any other milestone, rolling over can cease momentarily, and you may think your baby has forgotten how to do it but they're probably just focused on learning the next thing.
It takes a lot of upper body strength to flip over that adorable over-sized head that babies wear so well. In order to begin learning to roll, your baby needs to build up enough strength to do so. This strength is developed with age as things such as tummy-time become more frequent. Today reports that most babies master belly to back rolling first because it tends to be easier but that isn't always the case. Johnson continues explaining that "to roll from back to belly, they have to develop enough strength in their flexors, which are the muscles on the front of their bodies, so it's just easier to use their extensors, or back muscles, to roll and then push with their arms."
Whether your baby rolls at two-months or seven-months, remember that each baby is unique and each baby reaches milestones when their own brain and body are ready. Encourage your baby to roll by playing games and doing at least 10 minutes of tummy time daily (the more the merrier!), but don't worry if your baby hits five-months and has yet to roll. If you have any concerns, however, speak with your doctor and they may be able to teach you a few tricks to encourage learning.