Somewhere around 3-5 months old you’re likely finding that your baby is no longer just stationary in their crib or bassinet!
They’re trying to move this way or move that way and it is totally normal!!! But you are mildly freaking out because all the sudden you see on the monitor that they’ve rolled onto their belly in the crib and you’re like WHAT’S HAPPENING!? My baby is rolling?!?
Today I’m giving you the steps and the peace of mind for what to do when your baby is rolling around in the crib!
If you are a family who LOVES sleep & who cherishes every single minute & hour that your baby sleeps so that YOU get to sleep, you’re in the right place! But sometimes it can start to slip away as your baby learns new skills, like rolling.
So let me just start right away with saying that when your baby learns a new skill, it will impact sleep!
There will be a slight regression period. It won’t be peachy perfect anymore. But that’s okay!! We’re going to talk about ALLLL of the things that you can do to help them as they practice rolling and get comfortable with this new skill.
Now, maybe your sleep is NOT a thing in your family – your baby does not know how to sleep independently and sleep is just non-existent and you’re like, Forget rolling, how do I even get my baby to close their eyes!? If that’s you, I have a free course called The 4 Steps to Solve Your Baby’s Night Wakings! It’ll take you less than 30 minutes to watch and you can begin implementing it all tonight!!
I will never forget the morning that I walked into Hattie’s room and she was on her stomach. And then later I went in and she was sitting up… it’s these moments of surprise like, “how did you know how to do that!” that totally freak you out as a parent because it’s new and it’s different!! (And yes, it’s going to cause some bumps in sleep!)
But let’s start by not worrying about that yet and just CELEBRATE!!!
Your baby is growing and developing and that is something to celebrate and love!!!
Now, I started by saying that between 3-4 months your baby is starting to roll. So before I even get into things, we need to talk about how perhaps your baby is NOT 3-4 months old and maybe they’re 5-6 months, but not quite rolling.
Let’s first of all give your baby the freedom. Here’s a checklist you can go through to help them get there:
When your baby starts to show signs of being ready to roll, or they start to roll, there should be no more swaddles – and in my Newborn Sleep Course I teach being swaddle-free by 12 weeks!
If you have a baby who is older than 12 weeks and you’re worried about their startle reflex, I need to tell you in a no-fluff way (as I do) that your baby is never going to be able to get past that startle reflex if you continue to swaddle them! So you gotta get ‘em out of the swaddle because that’s how they’re going to learn.
That will mean that they will have a few nights of disrupted sleep BUT you need to get their arms free so that they CAN learn how to use their arms and use their body to self-soothe.
If they’re older than 12 weeks, get them out of their swaddle cold turkey. If they’re less than 12 weeks and starting to roll already, you definitely need to get them out of their swaddle right away!!
Let’s give them space to move around by getting them out of the bassinet and into the crib. We want them to have the space so that they can find their most comfortable position.
I’ve typically found that when the baby is rolling around, they like to get close to the edge or they like to find the corner and wedge their head into the corner.
And in these cases you may be really tempted to get mesh bumpers or other kinds of bumpers so they don’t hurt their heads, but here at Little Z’s, we ascribe to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ standards which means NOTHING (no mesh bumpers, no regular bumpers!) in that crib! It is not needed.
They’ll nestle up to the side and they’ll learn their environment, but you do not need bumpers.
So safety is set – swaddle free, no bumpers, baby’s in the crib. Now we’re good to go!
Just increase it by 15 minutes. We’re not looking for hours at a time for tummy time, but if we can get them on the floor and give them the opportunity to start to use their rolling skills, that’s great.
You’ll probably find that your baby is trying to figure out how to get their arm out from under their tummy and their leg over… and that struggle is all part of the process!! And it’s a good thing. More tummy time gives them the time to practice.
Several years back I had a family that named an exercise the Sushi Roll. We were talking about using a swaddle blanket to lift the baby up and help them learn how to roll. This family dubbed it The Sushi Roll Method and I still love that name! Take a look at how to use the Sushi Roll Method in this week’s video beginning at 6:36 (minute mark!).
Here’s the wild thing… your baby could be a PRO at rolling on the living room floor, like no problem, they’re a rolling machine. But all the sudden they get in their crib and they freak out.
If that’s the case, if you’re finding that your baby kind of forgets how to roll when they get in their crib, then give them time to practice.
For 15-20 minutes at a time, take them into their room with all the lights on, let the sun stream in and take care of some tasks in the room. Maybe you’ve got some laundry to put away or you just want to tidy up your baby’s room or restock the diapers or something… put them in their crib and give them a chance to practice how to roll there. Build that muscle memory!
Instead of being frustrated by this skill, because I’m about to talk about how it will interrupt night time sleep, think about how many times at night you change positions. I’m a tummy sleeper myself and so I frequently go from one side to the other and roll around.
Learning how to roll… this is a self-soothing skill!! You and I know how to sleep because we can be in full control of how we are best suited and soothed in our own positions. So the same thing is happening with your baby, so let’s celebrate that, even if it likely causes some sleep interruptions in the night time.
I’m not a monster, so if you really believe that your baby is stuck – they’ve rolled and they can’t get back over and they’re not super confident, you have EVERY PERMISSION to not wait any amount of time… just go right into your child’s room, quickly flip them over, and then leave almost before they even realize what’s happened.
Don’t linger, don’t help them soothe. This is a principle of my sleep programs. We are fostering independent sleep. You’re not helping them get drowsy. You’re helping them flip back over if they’re truly stuck. So flip them over and then leave the room.
How many of you have noticed that you’ve flipped them, you leave the room, only to look on the monitor… and they did it again!?
Now, you can go in there and flip them, and you could do that all night long and no one’s going to get any sleep.
But there WILL come a night when you don’t see that they’ve flipped over and they’re not struggling anymore because they’ve learned how to do this.
This is something that YOU need to use YOUR best parental decision-making on!!
Because I’m not in your house, I don’t know your baby, but what I want you to know is that there WILL come a time when you need to stop flipping them back over because they are CHOOSING to be on their stomach. And if you’ve practiced during the day, both on the floor and in the crib, this is what part of growth is – them learning how to roll.
So I’m giving you permission to go flip them over if you feel like they’re struggling and they need help. But don’t lose 9 hours of sleep at night because you’re just flipping them over all night long and then your baby’s frustrated and tired because they could never get the position that they’re trying to get into.
You may have some bumpy nights as your little one is trying to figure it out, but within a week or two, things are going to be right back on track. This is why learning to roll can be a regression.
But if it’s been over 2 weeks and you’re blaming it all on rolling… it may be a habit, not a regression. You can check out this video here to see which is which if you’re in that boat!
There will come a morning when you wake up and your baby is on their stomach. This is like a badge of parenting milestones!! They’ve learned to roll, they’re learning to self-soothe. That’s growth!
Rolling is like the VERY FIRST milestone that we’re looking at that impacts sleep!!! So congratulations!! Your baby is rolling!
This is all a sign that your baby is happy, healthy, and well-rested and that’s something we want to celebrate with you!!
And remember… If you’re like me 8 years ago googling desperately “How do I get my baby to sleep?” because your 4 month old is NOT sleeping at all and you need some real sleep help, check out my free 4 Steps To Solve Your Baby’s Night Wakings course here!! Let’s make sleep a thing as soon as TONIGHT!!
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