By: Nicole Crisan, PT, DPT

Floor play time is an integral part of development and is one of the first ways a baby learns to explore their environment. Rolling is one of the first independent movements a baby can make. Typically, babies start to roll from their tummy to their back and vice versa between the ages of 5-7 months. As they learn to roll, they are strengthening their head and core muscles, improving their bilateral coordination and motor planning skills that help them understand how to use both sides of their body together. Additionally, rolling provides vestibular input which helps babies coordinate their head movements with their eye movements, so they learn to move their eyes while changing position. This allows babies to understand where their head and body are in space. Overall, all these skills help them progress towards future gross motor milestones such as sitting, standing, crawling, and walking.

Activities that help work on rolling:

  1. Tummy Time: It has been found that tummy time benefits an infant’s total development, including communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and social skills. It is recommended that infants spend at least 30 minutes per day in tummy time.
    • On parent/caregiver’s chest
    • Over a boppy pillow/rolled towel or blanket (weight bearing on their forearms) and toys placed at or slight above eye level to encourage babies to lift their head up
    • Placing toys in a circle which encourages them to want to move closer to a desired toy in multiple directions
  2. Playing side lying: Allows baby to bring their hands together towards midline
    • While on their side, have your baby look and track a toy to encourage them to roll onto their back.
    • Once on their back, continue to encourage them to reach and track the toy so they roll onto their other side
  3. Lying on back:
    • Reaching for their feet to work on abdominal strength. Place colorful socks/toys on their feet (putting Velcro toys on their socks) to encourage reaching. Have them reaching for their opposite hand to their opposite foot
    • While feet lifted, gently rocking side to side
  4. Assisting in rolling
    • While tracking or reaching for toys, assist time rolling at their hips by gently pushing their hips forward while moving from their back to their tummy.



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