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The motor skill of rolling emerges one piece at a time.  A baby may learn to roll from her belly to her or her back to her belly first.  Then she may repeat the pattern she has learned several times to develop confidence and skill so she may perform it when she wants.  This is when parents ask, “She can roll from her back to her belly, but not from her belly to her back (or vice versa).”  How does baby learn to roll from her  belly to her back?  She needs to learn to move those hips!  In the above video from Peter Shankman’s youtube channel, you can see the baby wiggle her hips.  She lifts one side of her hips off of the floor, then the other side.  The pelvis is a very heavy part of the body, and when it is moved enough it shifts the weight of the body so it moves in space.  For example, in this video it moves the baby onto her side and then eventually onto her back.  This is an excellent example of the exploration that goes on when a baby is on the floor which soon results in a motor milestone.


One of the reasons why it is so important for babies to spend time on the floor and in tummy time is because it provides them with an opportunity to learn to move their body parts and discover where that takes them.  They discover that they can go onto their side, or onto their belly, and each position gives them a new perspective on the world around them. In a piece of baby gear such as exersaucer those discoveries are much more difficult and that is one reason why I do no recommend them.  Babies learn to move through their relationship to the floor.  By lifting heavy bones in a direction that brings them to lean more on the floor and they learn to master tummy time and the motor skill of lifting the head.  By pushing against the floor with their legs they learn to propel themselves forward in space, which is the motor skill of belly crawling.  By lifting one hip away from the floor the opposite one goes down toward the floor so they can lean on it and find themselves on their side, and eventually on their belly or back.  Movement exploration during floor time is key to motor skill development.


  1. My baby (just turned four months) has just started rolling from belly to back, but though she tries she can’t quite manage to do back to belly. I think part of the problem is that she doesn’t seem to realise she can bend at the hips and lift her legs in the air. She always sticks them straight out. (When she’s on her belly she often ‘surfs’ on her tummy with both her shoulders and her hips off the ground.)

    I’m making a game of lifting her legs during nappy changes when I have to lift them anyway. Is there anything else I can do to encourage her to fold in the middle?

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