Verified by Edna Skopljak MD
Edna Skopljak is a medical doctor and an editor at BJBMS medical journal. She graduated from the University of Sarajevo School of Science and Technology.
Baby Doesn’t Roll From Tummy to Back – Reasons & Solutions
Developmental timelines vary from child to child, but typically rolling over from tummy to back can occur between 4-7 months. Infants develop at different rates, so if your child is not meeting this or any other milestones, there is no need to panic. If your baby is within this age range and has not yet rolled over, we will examine why.
Physical limitations such as muscle tone, stiffness, being overweight and other conditions may be factors that delay a baby’s ability to roll from their tummy to their back.
Starting tummy time soon after birth is crucial for a baby’s muscle development. Without this training, a baby may have difficulty meeting certain milestones, including rolling over from tummy to back.
Infants who spend a lot of time in car seats, carriers, or being held may not develop the muscle strength and coordination to roll over. The Journal of Pediatrics has also done a study showing that overweight babies are associated with a delay in motor skills development.
Some babies do not like to lay on their tummies and avoid doing so at all costs. This may be a developmental milestone your baby will just skip due to discomfort.
Since each child is different and develops at their own pace, it is not uncommon for some babies to skip certain milestones. There is no real cause for concern if your child does not roll over from their tummy to their back. It may be an uncomfortable position for them.
Even though it is more difficult, some babies master rolling from back to tummy but just never get the hang of tummy to back and may lay there crying until you help them out of it.
Tummy time plays an essential role in helping babies develop the strength and coordination of their neck, back, core, arms, and legs. It also helps them to become more aware of their body movements.
Newborns should begin tummy time shortly after birth, doing a few minutes a few times a day. If your baby seems delayed or uncomfortable and is showing little to no signs of advancement in their motor skills, you should speak to your healthcare practitioner about your concerns.
The same applies if you suspect that your infant’s weight may be a factor that is preventing them from reaching their movement milestones.
If your child dislikes tummy time, there are ways to help them become more comfortable with it. By making tummy time engaging and enjoyable, your baby may become more relaxed and willing to roll onto their back.
You can spend time laying with them when they are down and waving toys around to encourage head movement and even assist them with getting into a rolling position.
With patience and persistence, your baby will eventually get the hang of it and develop the necessary strength and coordination for rolling over.
How can I get my baby to roll from tummy to back?
You can encourage your baby to roll over by following the steps in the solution above – laying down and engaging with your baby during tummy time.
Some strategies to help strengthen their muscles could be to wave toys, so your baby lifts their head to look at them, place objects such as books or a non-breakable mirror in front of them, so they have something fun to look at, or even change the setting to outdoors or a different room.
These practices will help your baby to develop the necessary muscles to learn how to roll themselves over.
What causes a delay in a baby rolling over?
In most cases, babies do not roll over because they do not have the muscle tone in their back, neck, arms, and legs required to make these movements. Overweight babies also are slower to meet movement milestones than non-overweight babies.
What age should I worry if my baby is not rolling?
Babies should typically be rolling over by seven months, but some babies may take longer. It is best to consult with a doctor to get a professional opinion on your child.
Steps to teach baby how to roll from tummy to back.
Tummy time is the best starting point to develop the muscles your baby needs to roll over. Place them on their tummy on a mat, towel, or your lap.
Encourage them to reach for items such as toys, books, or your hands. Praise them and make happy noises when they succeed.
Music, singing, or other noises can also excite a baby and get them to move and shift their weight, strengthening their muscles.
Help them into the roll by leaning them towards one side, so they get used to the movement. You can start off slow and then increase the amount of motion as they start to learn and see if the infant is able to complete the roll on their own.
Baby-proof the house! Ensure all small objects are picked up off the ground, and the stairs and any sharp corners are baby-safe. Once they learn how to roll it will be their method to get around, so be prepared!
It is important to remember that the movement milestones are not set in stone, so if your baby is a little behind, there really is no need to panic. With a bit of help, encouragement, patience, and more tummy time, your baby should learn how to roll from their tummy to their back in no time.