Baby Learning to Roll Over and Not Sleeping – What You Can Do

I remember how exciting it was for me when I witnessed my baby rolling over for the first time. Watching our toddler grow and achieving a new mobility milestone was indeed exhilarating for us and we couldn’t stop, but adore her every time she did that. But all this exhilaration turned into worry and frustration overnight, when the baby couldn’t get out of this new skill. The problem started when the baby started rolling over at night because she was not used to sleeping on her tummy. I was pretty anxious about this new habit of my baby as well, and couldn’t sleep at night for the repeated crying. So, I had to find a way to stop this little cute gesture from ruining mine and my baby’s sleep. This is why I’m going to share this solution with you, to help you cope with this rolling phase once and for all.

Rolling is indeed a headache in the beginning, but it offers several benefits for the babies. It gives your baby his first sense of independent movement, which is probably why your baby can not get over his new achievement. Rolling has also been found to help to stimulate your baby’s tummy muscles. Tummy muscles stimulation is very important for future milestones as well because it is going to help your baby in sitting and crawling. Also, it helps the baby rotate and twist her body naturally. This rotation is going to help your baby maintain a balance in the future during walking and sitting. Lastly, rolling helps your baby with touch stimulations through his arms, legs, back, head, and tummy. Babies tend to roll in their sleep because they have learned to control their moves. Especially a crib provides perfect space for your baby to roll over which is probably why they are doing it more at night or before bedtime. This new position is comfortable for them but they are not used to it, which is why they keep waking up at night and have a hard time falling back to sleep. The reason doctors’ advice to lay babies on their back is because of Sudden infant death syndrome, but after your baby has learned to flip, it is okay for them to lay on their tummy’s or side as well.

Why do babies roll over in their sleep?

The first and foremost reason why your baby is rolling over at night is that they are exploring their new options. It doesn’t matter to your baby if it’s night or day, they will practice their new achievements regardless. Babies are the explorers and how can they not explore and practice their new skills as much as they want. This is why they now wouldn’t sleep and instead roll over more and more even if it’s time for bed.

Babies are also unaware of the sensation of sleeping on their tummy and this is why they start crying when they roll over during their expedition. Your baby may take a while before they learn to roll over on both sides, but till then flipping them over to their back is a good solution to this phase. This indeed can be frustrating for you but rolling is the first step to walking and crawling so, it is important for them to go through this phase.

How to get past this rolling phase?

How to get past infant rolling over phase

There’s no specific timeline for this phase to end because every baby takes his own time in figuring out obstacles. Also, do not put stress or force the behavior to be over soon, as the more you reinforce a behavior the more likely it is to last longer. Instead, follow these tips to help your baby get past this disruption.

  • Let your baby roll as much as they want during the day time. Especially if you find them obsessing over their new skill. This will stop them from rolling over during their sleep.
  • If your baby’s sleep is getting disrupted during the night time then allow them enough time to do their skill in the crib in the daytime and before nap time.
  • Allow your baby enough time to learn controlling their new skill. Some babies take longer to figure it out, so be patient and helpful.
  • By giving practice time to your baby you are also helping them to build the muscles needed to master the skill. Babies also have the ability to learn things faster, but for this skill, age is a huge contributor. Younger babies take much more time than older ones.
  • Watch your baby for sleep cues, because if they are sleeping late then they will need to make up for that time during the day.
  • While practicing new skills, your baby might get into a posture that they need your help to get out of. Give them time to figure it out on their own at first, but jump right in after a few minutes. This figuring out time will help your baby work on the muscles and energy needed to flip back.

Things to avoid

I know that you want to help your baby get out of this phase as soon as possible, but be wary of falling into the “accidental parenting” trap. Before lending a helping hand make sure that it would not create future problems for you. Do not get your baby used to something that you cannot provide in the future. Habits built at this age are the hardest to get rid of later in life.

  • Our first approach to anything is mostly stressing so, this is why I would like to remind you to not take the stress. Instead take measures to help them on their own and watch them patiently doing that.
  • When your baby starts crying during sleep due to an uncomfortable position, try not to stimulate their senses by making loud sounds or turning on lights. By stimulating their senses you will disrupt their night sleep which can leave them anxious the entire next day.
  • Do not go to the rescue as soon as your baby gets into trouble. Let them figure it out on their own for it will help them get out of their learning phase faster.
  • Let your baby cry for a few minutes when they land on their tummy. This way they will have to figure out to either flip back or get used to lying on their tummy.
  • There is a possibility that something else is bothering your child’s sleep. So make sure to know the right reason and treat it accordingly.

Are sleepsacks safe for babies who can roll over?

Sleep sacks are perfect for babies who learn to roll over, but the design needs to be the one that can stop slipping and rolling while sleeping. Sleepsacks need to be a perfect fit with no extra fabric to slide into. Your baby will sleep soundly and safely, as long as the sack is cozy and appropriate to the room temperature.

What to do when your baby isn’t rolling over?

Mom helping her infant baby who isn't rolling over yet

Some babies take longer than others to learn to roll over. This is not something to be worried about, but you can encourage them to start rolling over faster through fun activities as follow:

  • When baby is lying on his back encourage him to roll his body to the sides by making them reach up for toys. As he tries to reach up help him roll over to his side or tummy with your hands.
  • Roll your baby over to sides and tummy while changing their diapers. This will help them get familiar with the new positions and learn them on their own.
  • Toys are the best exercise to teach your baby to roll. So have enough of them to stimulate movement.
  • Rock your baby from one side to another while lying on their tummy, then straighten their arm out in front and roll over to that side. Repeat this 3 times a day for each side and your baby will learn this new skill in no time.

Take Away

Your baby will get used to sleeping on their sides and tummy once they learn how to roll freely. By letting your baby practice different positions as much as he wants will help him learn to roll over on his own.

Do not stress and get frustrated, be patient, and focus on helping them practice independently. Your baby will be back to sleeping soundly rather quickly, once they learn how to flip both ways.

Hajira is a certified editor, an experienced and thoughtful writer, and a mother of two. Her deliberate passion for writing convinced her to become a writer along with her mom duties. Driven by her passion for writing, she takes pride in providing the best possible. She aims to incite and provoke enthusiasm in her readers.

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