I know it’s both exciting and scary when you find your little one mastering the skill of rolling over in their crib as it’s their first step, eventually towards crawling and walking!
I still recall the first time I found my 3-month-old baby lying on the tummy in their crib. My first cue (after the happy dance) was to flip them back on their back because of safety concerns such as suffocation, breathing problems, etc.
But, as much as your baby needs to gain control over their movements, keeping the crib safety in check is also essential. Because, once your little one learns to roll over, there’s no stopping them (trust me), and if they start waking up in the middle of the night due to flipping back and forth, it becomes a safety hazard and hassle for you.
What’s the solution? Let’s find out!
Drawing from 15 years of parenting experience, I’ll share some effective ways to encounter the question of how to keep a baby from rolling over in a crib.
Table of Contents
But First, Let’s Understand This Developmental Milestone
As mentioned, rolling over is your baby’s first step toward crawling and walking, so it’s essential to understand this developmental milestone. Usually, at around the 4-month mark, your baby starts gaining control over their body.
However, keep in mind, that this doesn’t happen overnight. If your baby is showing signs like moving side to side, holding their head while diaper changing, or while getting some tummy time, then it’s a sign that they will roll over soon!
I often get asked by new parents, “Why does my baby roll over while sleeping in a crib?”. So let me give you a simple answer. We adults toss around in our sleep to find a comfortable position, right? So it’s the same for babies as well. Since this movement is akin to a new discovery for them, they’re eager to test it out.
However, another thing that can’t be overlooked with this milestone is ensuring their safety, which I’ll discuss in detail below.
Handling Baby’s Rolling Over: What to Do?
It’s completely normal for your baby to roll over in their sleep, and there’s no need to panic as such.
However, here are a few things you can do if you find your baby has rolled over:
- Stay Calm: It’s natural to worry, but most babies who can roll over have the strength and control to turn their heads and breathe. (Bed-sharing with a baby who’s very young or unable to roll over is another story. Sharing a bed with a baby can increase the risk of SIDS and fatal sleep accidents.)
- Check the Crib: Regularly inspect the crib for any potential hazards, such as loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals that could obstruct your baby’s breathing.
- Stop Swaddling: When your little one has just started to roll or when it’s clear that they’re going to very soon, it’s time to stop swaddling. It’s not easy to roll out of an unsafe position when you’re swaddled.
- Monitor: Keep an eye out. You can monitor your baby through a baby monitor or by checking on your baby periodically.
- Roll Them Back: If you find that your baby has rolled to their stomach and you don’t think they can roll back over, gently roll them over yourself. If they can already roll over both ways independently, let them be on their stomach.
- Practice Tummy Time: Practice during the day. Allow your baby more tummy time during the day when they’re awake and supervised. This will help their neck, shoulder, and arm muscles get stronger so they can roll back over more easily when they’re ready.
- Adjust Sleep Position: Position for sleep. Make sure your child is placed on their back at the beginning of a sleep period, but if they roll over on their own, you don’t have to turn them onto their back.
- Offer Comfort: Pay attention to your baby. If your child is upset about being on their stomach, comfort them. But keep in mind that it’s often best to respond without picking them up if there’s no immediate safety need or if they don’t need the comfort to fall back asleep.
What Are The Safe Sleep Guidelines For My Baby?
Once your baby learns the art of rolling over, it will add another task to your list.
Experts suggest that the crib, especially after your baby starts rolling here and there, should be safe from various hazards. As per the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should always be placed on their backs in a crib.
With my newborn, I ensured the crib didn’t have excessive bed sheets, pillows, or stuffed animals. The bedding is set up with tight and breathable sheets, and the crib has no bumpers or loose structures, which is usually a risk hazard in convertible cribs.
However, it’s totally fine if your baby rolls over to the tummy while sleeping, as they can roll back. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook the crib because sometimes babies get stuck in the tummy position (initially while rolling).
In this case, having a decent tummy time during the day is an ideal solution as that will help them learn the skill of rolling over independently from the tummy to back position.
What Factors Influence Your Baby To Roll Over?
As I said before, babies usually tend to roll over by 4 months but remember, every baby is different, so don’t worry if it takes longer with your baby.
If your little one hasn’t shown any sign of rolling over by 6 months, start training them.
I’d suggest you remove any excessive bedding, baby positioner, or toys from the crib, especially if your baby is showing signs of rolling over (which I discussed earlier), as they might get in the way when your baby is trying to roll over.
Let them have tummy sessions and help them roll over consistently; soon enough, they’ll independently learn to roll over.
Keep their toys within their line of sight as that will require them to rotate their head and even roll over. Also, hold them by hooking your arm under their knees while keeping their back by your chest, as that will help them develop rolling-over skills.
1- Choosing a Safe Crib
As I discussed in my previous article about the safety measures while selecting a crib for your baby, let me give you a quick overview. Firstly, before opting for any crib, ensure that it’s up to the standards of JPMA.1
A sturdy crib that has no damage and falls within your budget should be an ideal choice to ensure your baby’s safety while they roll over.
As a parent, I always emphasize my baby’s safety above everything. I know it’s important to keep the aesthetic of your baby’s room intact, but not more than safety, which means keeping any extra cushions or even your baby’s favorite toy out of the crib.
Besides that, setting a crib in a way that doesn’t pose any safety hazards, such as using a fitted mattress and tight sheets on pillows and bedding, is essential as loose bedding or mattress can cause suffocation or SIDS2 for your little one.
To conclude, a safe, space-efficient, and comfy crib lets your baby practice rolling over without any safety hazards.
2- Sleep Positioners and Swaddling
Babies are used to your warmth and snuggling against you, so when you switch them to a crib, they start showing resistance and cry their cute eyes out.
Swaddling gives your baby a secure and comfortable feeling that helps a lot while transitioning to the crib. But once your little one starts rolling, it can be a safety hazard as the swaddle restricts movement, especially the arms, which can irritate your baby.
In some cases, with all the movement, the swaddle or the bedding comes loose, which can cause suffocation.
If your baby loves being in a swaddle, you can switch to a sleep sack with armholes so your baby still enjoys the snuggly sleep while their tiny arms stay free.
Other than swaddling, when your baby starts rolling over, sleep positioners also pose safety hazards if left unattended, so perhaps get rid of them too.
3- Monitoring Sleep Habits
I’ve already discussed in my previous article how essential it is to monitor your baby’s sleep habits and patterns. Observing your little one’s sleep pattern gives you insight into whether or not your baby is getting a healthy amount of sleep.
As I experienced different sleeping cycles with all my babies, I learned the hard way about the significance of sleeping.
Sleep is an essential factor for your baby’s growth, so if your baby is experiencing night wakeups, I’d suggest you accompany them for a few nights to see if the cause is separation anxiety.
Remember that it’s OK for babies to experience night wakeups when they start rolling (even after a healthy sleep pattern).
As your baby is getting used to a new skill, they will practice it whenever they feel like it. I know it’s frustrating, but trust me, they’ll get used to this new skill in only a few nights and eventually return to their old sleeping pattern.
But if nothing’s working, then it’s time to reach out to your baby’s doctor to get a better idea of things.
4- Transitioning to a Sleep Sack
As I discussed, swaddling has safety hazards after your baby starts rolling. A sleep sack is the best alternative if your baby loves to sleep in a swaddle. It has armholes that let your baby move freely within the crib while snuggling inside a sack.
In short, it keeps your baby safe while they practice their rolling skills in a crib, and it also keeps you at ease as it doesn’t pose any sleep-related risks such as SIDS or suffocation for your little one.
5- Creating a Safe Sleep Environment
Now that we’ve discussed enough about how to encounter the mystery of how to keep the baby from rolling over in the crib. Let me give you some of my personal tips on creating a safe sleep environment for your little one.
Keeping the crib in a peaceful and clutter-free environment is important. Light some moody lights, ensure the room temperature is normal, and close the curtain so that whenever you lay your baby in a crib, they get the instant feeling that it’s sleeping time. You can even sing lullabies to get your little one to sleep.
Baby Rolling Over in Sleep FAQs
How long does the rolling-in crib phase last?
The rolling in a crib phase usually doesn’t last more than a few weeks till your baby develops enough strength and flexibility to switch from one position to another.
Do some babies skip rolling over?
As most babies show rolling-over skills in the early months, some don’t show it at all, but there’s no need to worry.
If your baby indicates lifting their head and shoulder and rolling onto their sides and shoulders, it’s totally fine, even if they skip rolling over.
Should I be concerned if my baby hasn’t started rolling over by 4 months? What causes a delay in the baby rolling over?
It’s totally okay if your baby hasn’t started rolling over by around 4-6 months. All babies are different, while some show signs of rolling over on time, some don’t. The cause behind the delay might be premature birth or slow motor skills.
But if they don’t show mobility skills at all, then I’d suggest you consult your doctor.
Conclusion on Baby Rolling Over in Crib at Night
Rolling over is a significant milestone that shows your baby is growing healthily, but as much as it’s exciting, it comes with the risk to your baby’s safety in a crib.
We parents get stressed in even a little circumstance, so how can one ignore the risk of your baby falling while rolling over?
But the good news is that the risk of this new skill quickly fades away, so it’s only a matter of time before you and your baby return to your old routine.
The factors I discussed in this guide, including crib safety, monitoring your little one’s sleep pattern, and getting rid of swaddling and positioner, can make this experience much easier.
So enough with the stress about how to keep the baby from rolling over in the crib, and let’s get started.