Starfish Therapies

October 14, 2010

My Child Isn’t Rolling Over: Should I Be Concerned?

Rolling over is one of the first major gross motor milestones you will see when your child is growing and developing and it is your baby’s first opportunity for independent mobility.  Now they can change from tummy to back and vice versa!  Just a note, this may make tummy time more challenging but tummy time will also encourage sooner rolling so its all on the right track!

Rolling should occur in the 3-6 month age range although again, this is a range.  If your child isn’t rolling and is in this range or even outside of this range there are some things you can look at to determine if you should or shouldn’t be concerned.

First, are they spending more time in a carrier, bouncy, bumbo, stroller, etc than on the floor?  Babies should have lots of tummy time and in general kids who spend more time on their bellies begin to roll sooner because they have more muscles that have been strengthened, allowing them to activate different muscles to make rolling more efficient.

If your child is spending time on the floor are they on their tummy or just on their back?  As mentioned above tummy time is critical to muscle development and movement development.

If they are on the floor and they start to fuss or get frustrated do you automatically pick them up and put them in a sitting position (or supportive seat, or carry them)?  Generally they can get frustrated or upset for a variety of reasons but if we begin to show them how to move it can help.  For instance, you can help them to roll over.  This way they can begin seeing options for themselves.  If they start to learn that they can move out of a position it encourages independent movement as opposed to being dependent on someone coming and picking them up or moving them around!

In addition to beginning to encourage independence, learning to roll adds to their motor planning arsenol.  They get to figure it out which will carry over to each new motor skill and activity they learn as they get older.

Learning to roll is just one more building block in the development of gross motor skills and movement!

So, if your child isn’t tolerating time on the floor, they spend a lot of time in a bumbo, car seat, bouncy or being held, they are sitting on their own but not rolling then I would get some advice on how to encourage movement. Its better to catch up early than later!




  1. […] already addressed rolling in a previous post, as well as if you should be concerned if your child isn’t rolling yet, but I wanted to provide a video for some visuals on ways to […]

    Pingback by Encouraging Rolling – From Back to Stomach « Starfish Therapies — February 7, 2012 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  2. […] follow mothers instincts. i just googled some tips on how to get them moving hope it helps My Child Isn?t Rolling Over: Should I Be Concerned? | Starfish Therapies Reply With […]

    Pingback by 10 months old, still not rolling and only sitting — March 12, 2013 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  3. […] The wonderful Starfish Therapies has put together this short video and post about how to encourage your baby to roll from back to tummy, plus this general post about encouraging rolling, and another post called “My Child Isn’t Rolling Over: Should I Be Concerned?” […]

    Pingback by 10 tips for helping babies learn to roll - Mama OTMama OT — March 23, 2014 @ 6:25 am | Reply

  4. My 5 month old can sit up but cannot roll over. You mention to get advice if this is happening but from whom? His pediatrician showed us how to practice rolling over with him but baby doesn’t seem to be responding well. Any thoughts or guidance would be appreciated. Thank you?

    Comment by AJ — December 22, 2014 @ 7:23 am | Reply

    • I would ask for a referral to a pediatric physical therapist who can potentially give you more assistance than your pediatrician was able to.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — December 29, 2014 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  5. […] 7.  My Child Isn’t Rolling Over:  Should I Be Concerned? […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Posts of 2014 | Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2014 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  6. My 10 month old refuses to roll from his back to his tummy. He crawls, pulls to stand and has even taken a few steps. I’m concerned. If I lay him on his back he will just scream until I assist him in rolling over. I’m not sure if he can’t or just won’t.

    Comment by Cate — April 10, 2015 @ 3:34 am | Reply

    • I don’t know that I have specific answers for you without seeing your son but is he able to sit up from his back? Maybe work on mini sit ups by using his hands to pull to sit. You could also work on getting his obliques engaged when he is on his back by having him reach across his body for something that really motivates him. Since he is doing so many other developmental skills it would seem that he may not want to but again I can’t be certain. Make it really motivating for him to practice rolling onto his belly and see if that helps at all?

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — April 10, 2015 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  7. Hello. My son is officially 4 months and 1 week. I try to do tummy time for at least 20 minutes a day using the boppy and the floor. During tummy time, my son does not use his arms to help support him in supporting his head, instead he chooses to do the “superman” exercise. I have tried to prompt him to roll from both his tummy to back and vise versa, but he seems to be having some issues.

    With him not putting using his arms as a support, will that delay his rolling and what can I do to encourage a proper rolling position?

    Comment by Rachael — August 6, 2015 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

    • That’s great that you are doing tummy time. Have you tried using a therapy ball for it also? I would try to get him to push or at least weight bear on his arms as it will affect his rolling some. It is also how he develops the muscles around his shoulder blades. I have a harder time encouraging rolling from the stomach as it usually develops as they begin to push up and then all of a sudden they find themselves on their back. They have to be able to begin to unweight one side so that they can turn their head and begin to roll (hard to explain in writing). I would continue to work on weight bearing through his arms and I have an old post with a you tube video I did on tummy time on a ball. I think I also have a video on rolling as well. The rolling one is about back to stomach though.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — August 13, 2015 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  8. Hi my baby is 7 and half months and can sit unaided since 5 and a half months but has never rolled either direction. He can bear his weight well and loves standing when I hold his arms. He is doing everything else babies his age are in terms of grabbing items and swapping hands ect. Should I be concerned?

    Comment by Rachel — August 16, 2015 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

    • I don’t know that I would be overly concerned since his development is progressing, however I would be working on rolling with him since it works on foundational skills like cross body reaching, trunk rotation, weight shifting etc. Also it is a pre-cursor to being able to get into sitting on his own, especially from his back. Is he doing tummy time and pushing up on extended arms? Is he commando crawling or getting into quadruped? I tend to look at the transitional movements that a child is doing more than just if they have sitting balance. You want to build his foundation and encourage independent mobility and rolling is the first step towards independent mobility. Hope that helps!

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — August 17, 2015 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

      • He does tummy time and pushes up with his hands, but is also doing the swimming movement still. He lasts about 30 min a time on his tummy and I try to do this about 30 times a day. We have tried teaching him to roll but if the toy is too far away he gives up and he doesnt seem to unserstand. What are some things i can do to get him to roll? I feel we have tried most things. He isn’t commando crawling or doing any form of crawling

        Comment by Rachel — August 17, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

      • To work on rolling, if he is on his back, hold the toy in front of him and get him to reach for it and then slowly move it over and up until its above his head. You want to keep his attention on it and you can help him at the hip to get the rolling motion. That way he starts to have success with it. Does that make sense?

        Comment by Starfish Therapies — August 20, 2015 @ 12:53 am

  9. Hi, my son is 5.5 months old. He can sit up on his own pretty well (about 10 mins at a time) but he’s having some trouble with rolling. He doesn’t like tummy time and rolls over when put there, but he does so mostly using his neck. On his back he kicks his legs a lot and plays with his hands but doesn’t roll to either side or roll over. He will follow an object but not move his hands towards it if you move the object to either side of his head. His vision is good, but he is just not motivated to roll or move at all when he’s on the floor. Any suggestions?

    Comment by Angela — October 1, 2015 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

  10. My daughter is 5.5 months and can roll from back to front to the left, but nothing on the tummy. She just arches her back and keeps her hands down my the floor. I have tried tricks with toys and trying to make things interesting, but she doesn’t seem interested or want to push up on her hands. Any thoughts on what to do?

    Comment by Carissa @Fit2Flex — November 19, 2015 @ 12:45 am | Reply

    • Have you tried using a therapy ball to get her to like her tummy? You could even play with rolling on there but I like to use it to create a fun way for kids to spend time on their belly. You can give them support as well as bounce and move them around while singing or having them look in a mirror. I did a post called Tummy Time: Its a Ball that gives ideas for this.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — January 7, 2016 @ 3:11 pm | Reply

  11. Hi! My son is 5 months old (lasr week). He rolled over twice (tummy to back) when he was 3 months but hasn’t since then. He also started rolling from back to tummy 2 weeks ago, but doesn’t really seem interested in either anymore. He hates tummy time and gets mad when on his tummy. He’s really good at pushing his head up and sits mostly unassisted for a few minutes (still a little wobbly). What can I do to remind him he knows how to roll!?!!

    Comment by Kerrie B — December 2, 2015 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

    • Its different for each child. Have you tried using things that are really motivating for him? Also, if he starts to roll you can give him a little assist and then have the motivator there for him so that he realizes he can use rolling to get to what he wants. I know its not much but its hard to give specific advice without having seen your son!

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — January 7, 2016 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  12. My baby is seven months old and has been rolling from his back to his tummy for almost two months. However, he does not roll from his tummy to his back. What can I do to help him?

    Comment by Rhonda Hardiman — August 24, 2016 @ 3:58 am | Reply

    • The more time kids spend on their tummy the sooner they will learn to roll to their back. I think its great that he is rolling onto his belly. I wouldn’t worry too much at this time as he will need to be on his belly to work on commando crawling and getting onto hands and knees.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — October 2, 2016 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  13. Thanks for this post! My son is almost 11 months old. He crawls on hands and knees, pulls up on his own, and cruises on our furniture. But he can’t roll over. He sleeps on his back and even when we have let him cry it out, no rolling. When he falls on his back, he lays there until someone comes to help, regardless of how long. We practice rolling all the time. I have tried to motivate him with toys, but all to no avail. He never rolled in either direction. He learned to crawl from tummy time and siting and can go back and forth between all those skills. When I assist him in rolling, he fights it and keeps his back on the floor and arms out on the floor. At his 9 month appointment, the pediatrician seemed to not be too concerned. Should I push at his year appointment to get an evaluation? We love our “Turtle” but I am worried about long term issues.

    Comment by Britney — November 3, 2016 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

    • I’m so sorry for the delay in this response. Yes, I would ask to get an evaluation. The PT will at least be able to give you suggestions for ways to help him learn to roll and move. In some states you can go for an evaluation without a doctors prescription. You might want to reach out to a local pediatric PT and ask if that’s the case in your state.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — December 13, 2016 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  14. […] 5.  My Child Isn’t Rolling Over:  Should I Be Concerned? […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017 | Starfish Therapies — December 30, 2017 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

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