Why we need to teach our babies to roll over

disposable nappy

I recently got a comment on my YouTube account about the rolling over video: Youtube Video: Teaching your 3 – 4 month old baby how to roll over – Watch Abigail & Finley do a rollover

This is what she asked

“In 13 years of caring for children I have never really considered “teaching” children to roll over- is it really necessary to school them in this?! It is something all babies learn to do at around this age anyway! Why can’t we be content to let our babies develop at their own rate?! As long as they are given plenty of opportunity (tummy time, and time playing on the floor) and lots of mental stimulation they will do it when they are ready!!”

This is my reply

“I can totally understand what you’re thinking. However, babies do need to be taught to roll over. It’s because of the SIDS campaign and putting babies to sleep on their backs. Their neck and arm strength is poor unless we teach tummy time and rolling over several times a day.

Development has to be sequential as I’m sure you’re aware. I’m finding the late rollers will often develop sleep problems if they are unable to roll. We have so many devices we use in modern parenting that keep babies in one position and unable to move such as strollers, car seats, bouncy chairs, slings and rocking chairs.

floor playBeing able to roll promotes the vestibular system which teaches baby about balance.

When I first trained as a nurse over 25 years ago we didn’t need to teach this as babies had more freedom to move around and they had much stronger head control and stronger arms. So we have reduced SIDS and created some gross motor developmental issues.”

I found the comment really got me thinking about how things have changed in 25 years

There are new problems I’m coming across because of changes in how we parent. I’m seeing so much more baby holding, the use of rocking chairs, safety sleep things that velcro the baby in place in the cot, likewise the cot bolsters.

All these things are new. We shouldn’t really need to use any of those things. Eventually they will create a sleep problem. I call these things the Elastoplast method as they’re a temporary fix for keeping baby settled.

You may recall a blog about Miss Madeleine and the rollover. Madeleine was not rolling over because of her play gym. As soon as we removed the arches we removed the overhead entertainment. This made Madeleine roll over as she sought out new entertainment! Genius!

So a bit of food for thought today. Out of a comment came a blog and it got me thinking!

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Why the Baby Gym May Be Delaying the Roll over in Your Baby

Miss Rosalie and the sleep training – the wrap had to go!

The 4 month sleep regression is real

Preventing the dreaded 4 month baby sleep regression


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Nurture Parenting's Karen Faulkner is a baby sleep and toddler expert who brings calm and sleep into families and gives parents their confidence back. Cerris Pty Ltd trading as Nurture Parenting - ABN 42 623 216 384 - Sydney, Australia

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