Watching our little ones grow is both thrilling and stressful. While there is no high like seeing your sweet baby recognize your face for the first time or learn to play peek-a-boo, there is no low like worrying that your baby might not be developing on schedule.
Almost every time I speak to a parent about their baby I find that they have been worrying about one or two of the major milestones of the first year. So, rest assured, even if your baby hasn't rolled over and it is nearing the 10 month mark, while you should let your pediatrician know, your baby will be just fine in all but the rarest cases. However, there are a few small things you can do to help your little one as they are working on figuring out how to flip the world upside down and back.
1. Hip Swivel
This is a simple little exercise to help you start walking your nimble little wiggle worm through the motions of rolling over. Start with her laying on a blanket on a soft floor. Take ahold of each of her legs, and gently cross the right leg over the left. Keep bringing the top leg over and around, until her right hip lifts off the floor. Now hold her there or a count of five unless she seems uncomfortable or frustrated. Then gently bring her right leg back to it's natural position, and repeat the movement with her left leg. Repeat this, taking turns on each leg, about 6 or 7 times in a row to help encourage muscle memory. This gentle repetitive motion will help guide your baby through the mechanics of how to get her lower body to roll over. In just a couple of weeks you should see her start to swing her leg over and swivel her hips on her own as she gets ready to fully roll over.
2. Raise the Arm
Another step you can take to help your little finger muncher learn how to get from his back to his belly is to show him how to get that arm out of his way. If you've seen your baby roll up onto his side at all, you might have noticed that one of the things stopping him from just rolling the rest of the way is the arm he is resting on. So, the next time you see your sweet little monkey get almost up and over, just reach in and take a hold of his arm that is against the blanket, and guide it up near his ear, so it is completely out of his way. Always guide the arm gently, and let your baby pull it back if he is uncomfortable. Try to remember to do this as often as you can while playing with him on the floor. Before you know it he'll start figuring out how to get out of his own way.
Yes, this means what you think it means. It means you should get down on the ground and roll over while your little sock kicker watches. It may sound silly, but there is more and more evidence turning up that babies start learning visually long before we think they do. Hold her up to watch as another baby rolls over sometimes as well. This is helpful, because it gives you an example of exactly how another baby gets themselves rolled over. Also, when you are demonstrating the technique to your baby, remember to think through each step from your little rug buddy's perspective. You might realize how hard it is to twist your legs over without something to push off from, or notice the huge barrier that your shoulder becomes. These little insights can help you understand your baby's struggle, and be supportive in the ways that are most effective for her.
4. Sing a Ditty
A little tune can turn a stressful training session into a fun workout for a grown up, and unsurprisingly, it can also work for your baby. Sing, or hum or whistle a peppy tune to your little giggle face as you help roll him back and forth slowly from back to front, and then front to back. I particularly like singing "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" because it comes with built in instructions about how to roll over! I have even wondered if teaching babies to roll over might have been the original purpose of the nursery rhyme! Whether you use this song, or one of your own, a little music goes a long way toward turning floor time fun, for both of you.
5. Payoff is Important
It is important not to discourage your cute little honey bubble by forgetting to give her a reward after she has been working hard on learning to roll over. Though your little one doesn't have a concept of "earning a reward", she will already have a highly developed sense of "needing a break". So take a few minutes to play with her before, during, and after you work on rolling over with her. It'll be a surprisingly nice pause for yourself as well. Teaching your baby to do anything can feel like trying to train water to dance, so take a lot of breaks to enjoy your little stinker and remind yourself that he's pretty amazing already.
It is extremely likely that eventually your sweet cuddle bear will learn to roll over, no matter if he does it spontaneously at 4 months, or seems to be just starting to figure it out by his first year. There is hardly ever a reason to worry about exactly when it will happen, and chances are good that if there is a reason to worry, your pediatrician will not only know what it is, but give you helpful and useful things you can do to help him with his own unique developmental needs. The most important thing is to always see the best in your baby, encourage, and support him, and always believe that he is capable of anything. Your baby will understand that long before he figures out how to get from his back to his belly. As always, comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome, and if you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new, or expecting parents you know. Happy parenting!
Also, please check out my current work over at YummyShapes.com where I blog about once a week these days.