Rolling over is the first major motor milestone that your baby will conquer. If they need a bit of help, try these activities with them.
- During Tummy Time, tempt them with their fave toy. Place it just out of their range and encourage them to reach for it. Wave the toy at eye level (and even above their head) to encourage them to lift their head and upper body from the floor, increasing muscle strength. This also activates the back extensor muscles needed to roll from belly to back.
- Playing on their back helps develop the core flexor muscles needed to roll from belly to back. Let them reach and “eat” their toes as well as grab toys overhead. You can also do some core muscle exercises like baby sit-ups or leg lifts.
- Carrying your baby in different positions (face down, sideways, or knees to chest), stimulates the muscles needed to stabilize and strengthen. The dynamic nature of being carried activates the muscles used for rolling.
- Rocking allows baby to become familiar with shifting weight from side to side, necessary to roll. Sing while rocking them and then help them complete a roll over at the end of the song or verse.
- Encourage play in side-lying position. You may need to place a pillow or rolled/folded blanket behind them to maintain this position. As they become more comfortable, you can move their toys just out of reach, allowing their top leg to cross over to the floor, promoting them to roll. Also, lay on your side so they can mirror your position and keep eye contact.
- For a baby to rotate their body, they need to cross and roll over their midline (the center line of their body). Give them toys that require using both hands while they’re on their back or side-lying, helping them to twist or shift from hand to hand.
- Use a small blanket or a yoga mat to help them roll. Do this by placing baby on the blanket while on their back. You can play peek-a-boo to get them comfortable. Using the end of the blanket, pull one side up gently to start the baby roll from their back to their belly. Go slowly making it a gentle roll. Reverse the roll on a different side or from belly to back.
On a related note, limit the amount of time they have in positioning equipment (seated chairs, car seats, rockers, etc.). The more opportunities they have moving their body around freely, the more likely they will accomplish their motor milestones, like rolling, with confidence.