Rolling from tummy to back is an essential skill that your baby must learn in his first months of life. Here are 5 techniques to help him master the maneuver.
While some babies will learn to roll over when they’re 3 or 4 months old, most of them will have mastered the skill of rolling over by 6 or 7 months. Generally, babies first learn to roll from belly to back. They pick up rolling from back to stomach about a month later as this requires more coordination and muscular strength.
If you’re anxious about your baby rolling over to sleep on his stomach, you can always teach him how to roll over. There are some techniques you can try that’ll help him master not only the skill of rolling from tummy to back but also the reverse back-to-stomach maneuver.
Technique #1: Lay him down on his back or side with one arm extended
Putting your baby to sleep on his side can prevent him from flipping entirely onto his stomach. And with one arm extended, the risk of his breathing getting compromised is close to null.
Here’s how it works: Try laying your little one down in his crib on his back or side with one arm extended. By doing so, he’ll have his arm out in front of his chest when he tries to roll over to his tummy during his sleep. He’ll be less likely to flip entirely onto his belly as the arm will be tucked underneath him.
Technique #2: Roll him while you’re picking him up
You can start practicing this technique as soon as your baby is born. Don’t hesitate to do it every time you have to pick him up to change his diaper or put him down to sleep.
Here’s how it works: Instead of just picking him straight up, help him roll his weight to his side. You can also do this when he’s sitting on his bottom. Simply roll him over to the side, and he’ll automatically try to keep his head from falling out of line with his body, which is a reflex they are born with. This exercise will help him strengthen the muscles on the sides of his neck. The move also allows him to practice pushing against the floor with the arm on the way down. Make sure you practice this on both sides of his body.
Technique #3: Encourage tummy time
Practicing tummy time is an amazing technique to help your little one develop the muscles necessary to lift his head. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies start practicing tummy time the same day they come home from the hospital.
You should encourage your baby to practice lifting his head for at least 15 minutes every day. You can also split those 15 minutes into three sessions that will last three to five minutes. Avoid leaving your baby unsupervised.
Here’s how it works: Get on a flat playmat with some of his favorite toys. Keep the toys out of his reach to encourage him to try and move to reach them. Over time, he’ll start pushing himself off the floor or even rock his body from side to side, preparing to roll. In no time, he’ll master the skill of rolling from tummy to back.
Technique #4: Use visual and auditory motivators
When it comes to teaching your baby the skill of rolling from tummy to back, remember that where his head goes, his body will follow. Meaning, you can easily try using visual and auditory motivators to entice him to lift his head and move.
Here’s how it works: Put your baby on his belly. Grab a toy that is interesting to him and place it above his shoulder and eye level on the side you want him to turn. Once your baby notices the toy, his head will slowly rotate, and then his entire body will rotate over to be in alignment with the head. If he gets stuck lying on his side, you can even give him a little push to help him get on his back.
Technique #5: Provide support at your child’s hips
As I’ve mentioned previously, sometimes your baby can get stuck in a side position while trying to rotate from his tummy to his back. He may get stuck in that position and can’t seem to figure out shifting his weight side to side. When this happens, try giving him a little push.
Here’s how it works: Give him a slight push on his hip to help him shift his weight to the side so that he can finish the roll himself.
To sum up
The five techniques I mentioned in the text are excellent strategies to teach your baby the skill of rolling from tummy to back. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ll use them separately or all together. And once your little one masters the skill of rolling over, you’ll finally be able to sleep through the night, with a peace of mind that your little one is fine all by himself.
And if you find yourself needing help teaching your baby how to sleep independently, ask for professional help from a certified sleep trainer. When you have a sleep trainer working alongside you, you’ll get a personalized plan that fits your child’s temperament and personality. A sleep trainer can ensure you’re on the right track and offer unlimited support throughout the process. In no time, you’ll manage to turn those bedtime battles into regular and restful sleep patterns.