It’s so exciting to watch your young infant grow and develop and learn new skills, isn’t it? For most parents, the first major mobility milestone we squeal over is watching our babies learn to roll over. You know what I mean, right? That first time you see your baby arch her back, lift her head, lean to one side, and then suddenly – FLOP! She’s rolling over!
So cute and exciting! Unless… it’s happening during sleep. Then, it’s frustrating and exhausting. Why? Because (as I know many of you can attest) a baby who’s rolling is a baby who’s NOT sleeping.
So how can you manage your little baby’s rolling during sleep, and keep her safe, while also ensuring that she’s getting enough sleep?
Read on for details!
Baby Rolling Over In Sleep: Why It Happens
Simple – your baby is rolling over during sleep because he can! You’ll find, as your child grows, and practices his new skills, that he doesn’t really discriminate between awake time and asleep time (or, rather, ought-to-be-asleep time!). When your baby learns to pull to a standing position, for example, it is very, very likely that instead of napping or falling asleep quickly at bedtime, your baby is way more interested in standing!
The same is true for rolling. While he’s awake in the crib, your baby may practice rolling over – and that may mean that he doesn’t fall asleep quickly, or that he ends up spending long periods awake at night, rolling. You will probably also find that your baby rolls while asleep and that the act of rolling wakes him up. This can REALLY be a frustrating, vicious circle, as your baby can’t seem to help rolling over, which means lots of nighttime and mid-nap waking. In fact, many babies may tolerate tummy time while awake but do not enjoy being on their tummy to sleep.
Baby Rolling Over In Sleep: Safety First!
First and foremost, it’s crucial to ensure that your baby’s newfound rolling mobility isn’t creating an unsafe sleep situation. If your baby is still swaddled for sleep, you’ll want stop swaddling once she can roll over. A swaddled baby should never sleep face-down on her stomach. Plus, all that rolling will no doubt loosen your swaddle blankets, which can be a big suffocation risk. Instead of swaddling, try a sleep sack. We love the Zipadee-Zip! Its custom design provides enough resistance to still be nice and cozy, just like the swaddle.
You’ll also want to be sure that your baby’s sleep surface is flat and free of any loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or toys. Now that your baby can roll, her entire sleeping area is fair game, meaning that every inch of it absolutely has to be baby-proofed.
Finally, many parents feel like they need to turn their babies back over onto their backs when they roll onto their stomachs, as back sleeping is safer than tummy-sleeping. However, many medical experts advise that once your baby is able to roll over onto her stomach, it’s safe for her to sleep that way. Of course, be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider, and get their approval before you leave your baby to sleep on her tummy.
Baby Rolling Over In Sleep: How To Help
Now, as for how to help your baby through this stage, and maximize everyone’s sleep: first, remember that there is no “cure” for this. Your baby’s rolling is a totally natural part of his growth and development, so you can’t really fix this by stopping the rolling.
That said, some parents find that simply turning their children over each time they roll is a great way to help them through this phase. That’s especially true for babies who can roll one way (say, back to front), but can’t roll the other way, and who don’t really like being “stuck” in a different position. Since this phase is usually short-lived (generally 2-3 weeks), this is an easy, short-term solution.
You can also invest in a product like the Tranquilo Safe Sleep Swaddle (though it’s not a swaddle!) or Swanling Slumber Sleeper, which help keep babies positioned on their backs in the center of the crib. If your baby prefers to sleep on her back and gets upset when she rolls onto her belly and can’t roll back, one of these products can be a perfect solution. Note, though, that some babies may be frustrated by not being able to roll, and that frustration may cause other sleeping problems.