Like all milestones, there isn't an exact age during which an internal alarm clock start ringing and your baby rolls over on cue. But there is a range during which you should be on the lookout for this baby triumph.
"Typically, babies roll over between 4 and 5 months, says Jennifer Gardner, MD, a pediatrician, and founder of the Healthy Kids Company. But a little earlier -- or later -- is also normal.
First, you'll see your baby roll over from his belly to his back. And once he's a pro at that, he'll go from back to belly. (Make sure you've got the video camera ready!)
Babies are typically ready to roll over after they've gained control of their neck and are able to lift themselves up in a half-push-up when lying on their belly. Some little ones will rock back and forth on their stomachs before rolling over, or move their arms about in a swimming motion. All of these things help strengthen the muscles they need to flip themselves over.
But if your baby doesn't seem all that interested, there are a few things you can do to encourage rolling over. Give your infant tummy time to help muscles grow strong -- about 20 minutes every day for a 4-month-old. Lying baby down on an play gym, where there are lots of interesting toys and squeaky things that will entice him to move. Have your baby practice "standing," while you hold his hands. Let your baby lie on his side on the floor, using either a rolled up receiving blanket wedged behind his back or your hand if he's unable to stay put, and put objects a little bit out of his reach so he'll have to stretch. Don't keep your child confined to a carseat or a baby bouncer when it's not necessary -- let him move. All of these actions will help your baby beef up his tummy muscles, too, and that helps him to roll.
Once your baby does get the hang of rolling over, watch out. He'll probably want to do it over and over -- so don't leave him alone on beds or changing tables.
As with any motor development skill, you've got to look at the whole picture -- your baby's muscle tone, strength, coordination, and reflexes matter as much as his chronological age. But if your baby isn't rolling over by 6 months, mention it to your pediatrician.
How are you encouraging your baby to roll over?