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Managing Sleep and Rolling

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Has your baby started rolling onto their front in their sleep? Are you feeling a bit stressed and concerned by this new development?

After lots of ‘tummy time’ practice, I recall that first time my son rolled onto his front and it was amazing, that is, until he started doing it in his sleep. This blog will take you through when rolling may start, what do to when it does and how you can support them to roll safely and develop their skill.

Let me start by reassuring you that rolling onto their front is completely natural for babies and they often want to sleep on their front once they are old enough to roll themselves over.


All safer sleep guidance from The lullaby Trust and specifically the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign along other safer sleep sources state that our babies should be put down to sleep on their backs. Doing this reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and so it is imperative you follow the guidance. According to The Lullaby Trust, once your baby can move themselves from their back to their front and back again on their own both ways, they will be able to find their own comfortable sleeping position safely.

Once they master rolling, many babies prefer sleeping on their tummies. Just as we adults shift in our sleep to find our most comfortable sleeping position, babies also find their preferred position and often they like to sleep on their tummies soon after they have developed this skill for rolling.

Should I allow my baby to roll onto their front?

As soon as your baby starts to roll it is no longer safe to swaddle them, as they need their arms free to move and adjust their position. If you have not done so already now would be a great time to introduce a sleeping bag.
Ensure the mattress your little one sleeps on is firm, ideally new and fits perfectly in the cot without any gaps around the edges. The sleep space should be clear with no bumpers, sleep pods or toys/teddies. 

When does the rolling start?

Babies usually begin rolling between 4-6 months, depending on their physical development. This new skill often coincides with the 4-month sleep regression, which can make sleep challenging. Babies typically practice rolling during the day first, and then they might start doing it at night. They seem eager to perfect their new ability, even if it means practicing in the middle of the night!

What if my baby rolls onto their front?

Until your little one is strong enough and can roll both ways you must try to keep them on their backs. If you put your little one into their sleep space and they roll onto their front you should roll them back over again. This may take several attempts until they stay on their backs. When babies first start to roll more often than not, they will be quite upset this has happened and they can become stuck.  Gently and quietly go to them and roll them back over again and they should become calm again. It can feel like a game for a while and be quite frustrating for everyone so it is best to acknowledge that this will happen and just be calm and consistent.

How can I help my baby with their new skill?

Practice rolling 2-4 times a day until they have mastered rolling. It is best to practice as little ones become ‘obsessed’ with their new skill and practice it as much as they can, even at the most inappropriate times. If they are happy practicing let them continue and they will soon learn their skill and not need to practice as much, especially at night.
To do this, lay your little one down on the edge of a blanket, lift the blanket gently and roll your baby onto their sides, onto their fronts and then back again onto their backs. Roll them both ways. Other new skills that require practice can include crawling, standing and walking.

Tummy time can also help to strengthen muscles that will help with their rolling development. Remember, rolling over is a natural part of your little ones development. Making sure their sleep space is safe and having you feel confident about this new development will help you both get through this new developmental leap.

If your bedtimes are a little stressful, have a little look at my blog on Limiting and Managing Bedtime Stress.

If your little one continues to have issues with sleeping please do get in touch as it may be something a little more than a new development leap. My support can help you to make the changes you need to make to get the sleep you all want and need. get in touch

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