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Rolling is very normal and is a sign your baby is growing and becoming stronger. Before you know it the stationary phase will be a distant memory. Just like adults, babies and children will have different sleeping preferences. It can be a bit daunting the first time you see your child rolled over but they are just trying to wiggle their way into a more comfortable position.
Once a baby can roll onto their stomach, they have enough head control to lift their head to breath. Also rolling from their stomach to back is usually easier than the other way as they can leverage their arm strength.
As parents what we can do is ensure the sleeping environment is safe regardless if they are rolling over or not.
Most babies will start rolling at around the 5 month mark. Remember that all children are unique and milestones can only provide general guidelines.
If your baby starts rolling in their bassinet it is time to move them to their cot.
Easier said than done. You’re not expected to stay awake all night and monitor how your baby is sleeping. Remember this is a normal stage of development and your time will be better invested in focusing on making the sleep environment safer (and getting sleep yourself).
Swaddling feels like your greatest weapon with a newborn and their Houdini like abilities but as soon as you notice them rolling it’s best to say goodbye to the swaddle (and form of swaddle sacks) so the little bundle (who will no longer be bundled up) is free to wiggle their way into their ideal position.
Sleep sacks where arms are loose can still be used as they baby will be free to use their arms to move.
The mattress you should be using should pass standards and not be elevated or tilted. It is also critical that the mattress is the right size for the cot.
Consider this as training. You want to provide extra supervised tummy time so your baby can develop their neck and upper body muscles as they progress to more movement.
Unfortunately, this means no toys, blankets, pillows and any loose objects in their sleeping space. This reduces the risk of anything obstructing your babies’ airways.
Positioners (i.e.. Towel underneath hands) might be useful during supervised time to help your baby learn to move although they should not be used to restrict their rolling.
The key thing to remember here is to put them down on their back. They may roll over and this is fine. You don’t need to wake them up to flip them on to their back, but it is important that whenever you put baby down you should place them on their back.
It is safe and completely normal! Remember this is a sign of them developing strength and dexterity. Don’t feel you need to rush them if they are not rolling, and all babies will progress at their own pace.
This new rolling motion will be very new to babies, and they might even startle themselves when they achieve it, sometimes causing them to wake. What we as parents can do here is trying to make their sleeping environment calmer so they can settle themselves back to sleep. Try to remove any light or use white noise. You may also want to try sleeping sacks with arms holes so they still feel snuggled but have the ability to use their arms.
It is good to know this disrupted sleep should only last a couple of days until your baby gets used to the rolling.
Let’s make picking up and putting down baby a bit more fun. When you put them down you can start them on their shoulder (on their side) and help them roll over onto their back. This is an easy way for them to start learning the movement.
Baby equipment (bouncers etc) are great but they also assist the baby and stop them from developing their own strength. Reducing and limiting time in these allows for your baby to develop and learn their own body.
Time to put that toy they absolutely love to use. To help your baby develop head turning and muscle strength, place their favorite toy in their eye line when you see them turning their head. This will help them turn to look at it and help them develop head turning motion and increase their muscles.
Your baby will start responding to sound and music. Play this around them and try and get them to look and move their head to the source of the music.
You can them in front of you with your arms underneath the back of their knees and their back pressed against your chest. Like a little curled up ball of joy.
Using a towel or a wedge under the baby’s chest can provide some assistance to help them roll over. It is important to remember these should only be used when supervised and never in the cot.
When your baby starts to lift their chest of the floor you can gently help rock their hips side to side. Don’t go too hard as this can cause them to lose their feeling for balance.
A big indicator here is if your babies sleep habits change dramatically or if they are appearing more distressed than normal. It is normal if your baby is starting to roll over and wake themselves up a bit more but if this is causing significant distress it might be time for a check-in. If you also find your baby is starting to try and roll but is lacking head and neck control, it is also worth raising this.
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