Zizu demonstrates how to rock’n roll!

Every mother is eager to see her baby roll from her back to her stomach, and then from the stomach to the back again.  Somehow this skill seems quite mysterious:  baby is flat on her back one moment, then the next she is on her stomach!  How did she get there?  Did she flip in the air like a pancake?  How can I help my baby learn to do this movement of rolling?

One of the most important concepts to understand is that round objects roll, not flat ones.  Babies roll because our rib cages are curved, with no sharp angles.  Think round as in oval like an egg, rather than round like a ball.  The path of the curve is gentle, not steep.  Put your hands on your own ribcage by starting with the fingers in front on the sternum (breastbone) and then slide them all the way around the torso until they meet in the back at your spine.  Repeat this a few times and feel how gently curved your ribcage is.  Next, try this with your baby.  Feel how curved her ribcage is, tracing the path from the front of the body to the back where the spine is.

Look at Zizu learning to roll.  This stellar caterpillar started receiving lessons at four months.  As you look at the sequence, notice how each part of the curved shape must touch the floor for a smooth rolling movement.  Many people think that rolling consists of only two points of contact:  the front and the back.  But, we are not flipping pancakes, we are rolling balls.  Notice how rolling consists of many points of contact.

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baby, gross motor skill development, baby rollingbaby, gross motor skill development, baby rollingNow that you realize the importance of learning to feel the sides of the body for rolling, you can help baby learn this motor skill by putting her on her side and rocking her just a little tiny bit forward and  backward, so she gets comfortable feeling the side of her body against the floor.  Then you can begin with her on her back, and roll her onto her side and wait, then bring her back onto her back.  Repeat this several times to the right, then repeat several times to the left.  Try this with her for a few minutes ever day and she will become more familiar with the curved sides of her ribcage, an important preparation for learning to roll!






  1. I love it when people come together and share opinions, great blog, keep it up.

  2. My baby at 8 months can roll over and sit up. However, she does not really roll from belly to back (her shoulder and arm are hyperextended that it’s blocking her to be able to roll). What exercises can I do for her? Also, when can she go on her own from belly to sitting up (or reverse)? Does that go first before learning to crawl? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Faith! You are correct that the hyperextended arm is blocking her ability to roll! It is keeping her shoulder up away from the floor, and you want her shoulder to go down toward the floor so she can lean on it to roll. To teach her to move her arm, she has to learn first to bend her elbow. To teach her to bend her elbow, you begin by sliding her hand a little tiny bit on the floor to the right and then to the left. Slide her hand very slowly as if she is massaging the floor. Let the movement get a bit bigger so it is like a windshield wiper action with her lower arm and hand, and her elbow is bending to allow the action. Try this and let me know how it works. I invite you to send me a video for analysis. You could put it on youtube and send me the link. And yes, it is better for her to turn on her own from her belly to sitting up before learning to crawl.

  3. Two months is just perfect to begin this preparation for rolling! The good news for you is that since he already likes to lay on his side, it will be very easy for you to introduce this to him. From the side lying position, rock him a tiny bit forward, maybe an inch, keeping your hand in contact with his ribs, and then stay there for a few seconds. Then slowly rock backward about an inch, continuing to remain in contact with his ribs, and stay in this position for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times, let him rest on his back, then put him on the other side. Tomorrow, try rolling him one and a half inches in each direction, and increase the amount of forward and backward movement every day in tiny increments. Let me know how he likes it!

  4. What age can I start this i have a 2 month old? I let Zac lay on his side and he likes it.

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