Usually, one of the first skills a baby learns is how to roll over. Often this happens by accident the first time, and it surprises both parent and child. For this reason, a baby should never be left unattended on an elevated surface. It would be unfortunate if his first turnover resulted in a painful injury.
Most babies roll first from their tummy to their back, sometime within their third and fifth month. If you wish to help your baby reach this milestone, before he discovers the method on his own, here’s how to proceed.
1. From the time he is a few weeks old, let the baby have one or two sessions a day of “tummy time”. Lay him on the floor on his stomach on a soft towel or blanket. Place his arms out in front of his body.
2. Lie down directly in front of the baby so he can see you. Talk soothingly to him and jingle a rattle or shake one of his favorite toys. As he raises his head to look at you, he is strengthening his neck muscles.
3. Soon he will start straightening his arms, raising his upper body off the blanket, trying to watch you and the toy more closely. His arm muscles are developing strength.
4. You then move to the side of the baby, gaining his attention by talking softly, moving the toy or jingling bells. He will raise his chest off the blanket, turn his head to look for you, strengthening his neck, back and shoulder muscles. Alternate sitting on his right or left side.
5. Staying beside the baby, gradually move further back, so that he has to twist his neck and body further and further to keep you in his line of vision. Eventually, you will be lying or sitting right beside the baby’s feet. Continue to position yourself on opposite sides of his body.
6. Eventually, he will turn sideways so far, that he will flip over accidentally. When this happens, pick him up, praise him, clap your hands and make a big fuss over him, repeating, “You turned over! You turned over!”
7. On subsequent occasions, place him on his tummy on the blanket, on the floor, sit near his feet with the toy and say encouragingly, “Turn over, Jimmy, turn over!” He’ll soon get the idea. After that, he may use rolling over as his favorite mode of locomotion until he learns to crawl.
All babies develop at different rates, but if, by about six months of age, your baby hasn’t shown any interest in moving about by rolling over or any other means, you should mention this to his paediatrician at his next regular visit.