Hi, I’m from South-Africa and would like to know if you have any advice for me. My baby is almost 6 months, he is great at push-ups, and sitting but he struggles with rolling. He can roll from his back to both sides and then he gets stuck. He struggles to do a roll from back to tummy but he manages sometimes to roll from tummy to back. He is a big boy, weighs 8.5 kg (18 lbs.), might this be the reason why he struggles? –From a mother in South Africa
THE WEIGHT OF BABY AND MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Yes, you are correct in thinking that the size and weight of your baby may present a challenge in learning the motor skill of rolling. The larger or heavier a baby is, the more difficult to it is to move their body. This is simply because their body parts weigh more. However, with patience and some developmental activities your son can learn to roll. First, resist the temptation to put him in a sitting position. Until he learns to sit on his own, he should spend his time on the floor on his belly and his back. This is where he will have the opportunity to push against the floor with his arms, legs, and hips to develop the strength and coordination for rolling. If he is sitting up, he will not be able to play with these movements. It is wonderful to hear that he is great at doing push-ups. This shows he has quite a bit of upper body strength, so now he just needs the time on his belly to learn to use his skills for rolling.
DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITY FOR LEARNING TO ROLL
Try this developmental activity for teaching your baby the motor skill of rolling. When he is on his back, bend one of his legs toward his chest and extend it down to straight a few times. Next, bend the leg and keep it close to his chest as you take the arm on the same side across his chest, slowly turn him onto his side and then continue to roll him onto his belly. Touch the knee to the floor so your baby learns to take the knee to the side and then to the floor. Next, gently push the pelvis so he feels that the weight of the pelvis completes the roll. See the video in the blog post, “How to Roll” for a visual demonstration. Repeat this a few times on the same side, let your baby rest for a few minutes and then repeat a few times to the other side. It is important to move slowly so the brain learns to do the movements. Repeat this every day with him, at least twice a day. Gradually do less of the movement for him and see if he will complete it on his own.
MATCH THE RHYTHM OF MOVEMENT WITH YOUR VOICE
Keep the activity playful by using your voice to talk to your baby in a calm and soothing manner and make some fun sounds as you go through the movements. For the movements that are smaller try a quicker sound (for bend and extend the leg, for example) and for the longer movements such as turning the baby onto his stomach try a more drawn out sound. You can also describe the activity with your voice as I do in the video, just keep the pace of the movement. The sounds capture the baby’s attention so the focus closely on what you are doing. Once your baby learns to roll he will enjoy showing off his new skill!