Depending on small variations, developmental milestones in babies generally happen in the same specific order during the first years of their life. One the most important steps towards the start of baby’s mobility is the act of rolling over. So how does it happen and when do they usually start rolling over?
The developmental milestones
With sometimes a few months difference depending on each child’s abilities, developmental steps in babies usually follow this order:
At 3 months old, babies can first raise their head while laying on their stomach, then open and close their hands. They will then be able to bring their hand to the mouth and catch objects that are at hand reach.
Between 4 and 7 months old, babies will start rolling back on their belly before being able to pull themselves to sitting position. They will then start to gain balance and stay seated with the support of their hands.
Between 8 months and 1 year old, babies can sit down without any problem and start to crawl. They can use their hands when they topple, stand up and hold the position, move from one position to another and, at last, start walking by holding onto things.
Which muscles does a baby need to roll over for the first time?
Rolling over doesn’t seem like it, but for a baby it is a very complex movement. You can roll over from laying on your back (supine position) to laying on your belly (prone position) and vice-versa. In order for a baby to roll from supine to prone position, they will need to have well-developed flexors muscles (which are the muscles on the front of their bodies).
If these muscles are not well developed, or the child has a condition that affects their muscle strength or tone, they might not achieve the roll over correctly, nor at all. They might push with their arms and/or use their hands for assistance, and use other muscles like the extensors to help with the rolling. If you think your baby’s muscles are not developing at a normal pace, do not hesitate to seek help from a physiotherapist who will give you advices and assess your baby to ensure everything is ok.
Is there any estimate on the approximate number of muscles needed to roll over?
There is no sure study that tells you exactly how many muscles are used for a child to roll over. However, in a pure rolling movement; the abdominal muscles will play a big part. But many other muscles are also switched when a child is rolling.
What needs to develop in the baby’s muscles for them to be strong enough to roll over?
First of all, a baby first needs to be interested in rolling and for this, they need to be stimulated and interested in exploring. If the environment is too monotonous, the baby may not end up wanting to roll over. Assuming the baby is healthy, to be strong enough to roll over they will need to have enough strength in their neck, as well as being able to bring their hands up so they don’t get in the way, and bring their legs over too.
My baby isn’t rolling over yet: should I worry?
Every baby will develop at their rhythm and might not be entirely in the same time frame as others when it’s about developing their movements. But if you are worried that after a certain time, your baby is still not moving the way they should at their age, do not hesitate to seek help from a paediatric physiotherapist specialised in developmental delays. They will be able to determine and give you clearance on the nature of the delay and if anything can be done to help your baby develop in the best way.
For more information about developmental milestones and delays: Click here
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