Babies should always be put to sleep on their back day and night, in a sleeping bag or with tightly tucked in sheets. One of the most common questions we receive from parents is what to do now that baby has started to roll.
Most babies begin to show sign of being able to roll from about four months of age. Some babies begin rolling onto their tummy earlier than this, and some not until later. This is perfectly normal, as babies develop differently.
Steps to follow when baby starts to roll on to their tummy or side
- It’s essential to stop wrapping as soon as baby starts showing signs that they can begin to roll, usually between 4-6 months. If you wrap baby, consider baby’s stage of development. Leave arms free once the startle reflex disappears around 3 months.
- If you are using a bassinette, it is time to transfer baby into a cot as soon as they first show signs of being able to roll.
- Give baby extra tummy time to play when awake and supervised, as this helps baby to develop stronger neck and upper body muscles which enables them to roll back over. It’s best to start giving baby supervised tummy time from birth.
- Consider using a safe baby sleeping bag as these may delay rolling.
- If you use blankets, make sure baby’s feet are touching the bottom of the cot and that the blanket can only reach baby’s chest to prevent baby wriggling under the blanket. Tuck the blanket in securely.
- Make sure baby is on a firm and well-fitting mattress that is flat (never tilted or elevated).
- Make sure baby’s face and head remains uncovered (do not use lambswool, doonas, pillows, cot bumpers or soft toys).
As babies grow and develop they become very active and learn to roll around in the cot.
Once baby can roll confidently from front to back, and from back to front, continue to settle them on their back, but allow them to find their own natural sleeping position. Once baby is able to roll in both directions, it is not necessary to wake during the night to turn baby over to the back position.
Do not use any devices designed to keep baby in a particular sleep position. These can be dangerous and they are not recommended.
What to do if baby isn’t quite rolling yet?
It can be very nerve racking once baby is starting to roll! If baby can roll in both directions unaided – that is they are able to roll onto their side/front and then back onto their back themselves, then it is ok to put baby to sleep on their back and let them find their own natural sleeping position.
If baby can only roll unaided in one direction, then you should gently roll them back on to their back whenever you see they have rolled onto their front or side.
Make sure you follow our safe sleep advice – put baby down to sleep on their back, make sure their face and head remain uncovered, and make sure the cot is safe with a firm flat mattress and with no additional items in the cot including pillows, loose sheets or blankets.
Six steps to reduce the risk:
- Put baby on the back to sleep from birth
- Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
- Sleep baby in a safe environment: Safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding, safe environment.
- Sleep baby in its own safe cot in the same room as the adult caregiver for the first 6 months
- Breastfeed baby.
Last modified: 24/4/23