WRB Milestones: Rolling Over- UPDATED TO REFLECT THE NEW AAP RECOMMENDATIONS
Chances are that your baby will start to roll from his back to his belly around 4 months of age. As rolling over is your baby’s first move towards becoming mobile it is a very exciting milestone. You will likely catch one of those first rolls on video and dutifully ooh and ahh over this first big physical leap. Then one night you check your monitor and……uhhhh your baby who was sleeping soundly on his back is now on his belly!
Red rover, red rover…turn your baby right over? We all know the safest place for a baby to sleep is on their back. While you should ALWAYS leave your baby on his back when you place him in his crib, what should you do when he starts to roll onto his belly during sleep? The initial reaction is to run in and flip him over, which according to the new safe sleep guidelines IS the correct thing to do if he cannot yet roll from belly to back. In this case, you’ll want to offer your baby TONS of supervised, awake tummy time and encourage him to learn to roll from belly to back. With practice babies learn this new skill quite quickly! To reiterate, the new guidelines do state that a baby has to be able to roll from front to back and back to front by themselves before they can be left to sleep on their belly.
As soon as you are confident that your baby can roll from back to belly and from belly to back independently you should actually resist the urge to flip her over or it WILL become a game of red rover as your baby won’t have the chance to learn what to do and will instead expect your assistance each time. This is one of those times in parenting where you just have to let them be to figure it out for themselves. You can watch on a video monitor for peace of mind and within a night or two max they will figure it out. One of three things will happen:
1. They will learn to sleep comfortably on their stomach.
2. They will learn to roll back over.
3. They will learn not to roll over in the first place.
If your rolling dervish is still making you a bit concerned, talk to your pediatrician or read this FAQ sheet from the Safe To Sleep Campaign – it’s the 7th question down. Then try to relax and be thankful that they are just rolling and not trying to climb out of their crib….for now!
*Please note, if your little roller is still swaddled, it is time to take it away for safety sake. In a matter of a day or two, they will learn to sleep without it cold turkey. If you have an early roller or your child still has their startle reflex, consider a transitional wearable sleep sack which is safe for rolling. Our favorite is from Zipadee-Zip.