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 to roll 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 rollover. 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!) which helps 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 SHORT-TERM solution. Note, though, that some babies may be frustrated by not being able to roll, and that frustration may cause other sleeping problems.
80 thoughts on “Baby Rolling Over In Sleep? Here’s How To Help.”
My 9 week old has only been stomach sleeping because that is literally the only way she would sleep and now she is rolling into her back and she hates her back so much that she wakes up screaming so loud several times a night and it is so exhausting because she wants to eat each time and i find Iam up almost all night! She seems so young for this what should I do?
Hi @Colleen – Thank you for writing to us! So sorry that your little girl is waking so unhappy when she rolls onto her back! This IS definitely exhausting, so hang in there! The good news is that this is a relatively short time period, even though it may feel like forever! She will learn to roll back over and this will hopefully help quite a bit! You can work on helping her roll both ways while she’s awake to help her master this! Do make sure that her doctor clears her for stomach sleeping first too, and the tips on this page should help as well! Good luck Colleen!
My 7 month old has been rolling for 2 months. Recently she’s started rolling onto her stomach when she sleeps at night (doesn’t seem to happen during the day). I’m not bothered by the rolling, but the problem is it seems to wake her up. She’ll lift her head up and open her eyes and cry.
Hello @Iferne –
Thank you for writing to us and for sharing about your little one’s rolling! It is common for babies to wake partially (or fully), so you’re not alone! Feel free to use all of the tips on this page for help – and help her roll back over if that helps her back to sleep. Practicing rolling back and forth both ways in the awake hours is a good way to help too! Good luck Iferne!
hi my 4.5 month old baby started to roll from her back to belly 3 days ago. I wanted to check whether this can affect her energy levels as she seems to tire a lot faster and would fall a sleep at shorter intervals i.e. previously she sleeps every 2 hours now she will be very tired by 1.5 hours
Thank you for visiting The Baby Sleep Site! It’s so great that your daughter is learning to roll! When a baby acquires any new skill, we do often see some additional tiredness, so what you’re describing can be normal. I hope this helps!
My 4 month old has been rolling over and sleeping on her tummy for about a month now. 2 days ago, she just remembered she knows how to roll from tummy to back too and has started doing this in her sleep. The problem is she prefers to sleep on her tummy. She can only roll from tummy to back and back to tummy one way ( meaning she can only roll to her left and not the other way) so when she rolls from tummy to back, she tries to roll from back to tummy again but runs out of room and wakes up and cries. I had to go in and move her 2 times last night, 3 times the night before. She will usually go back down, but it is still frustrating. Any suggestions?
Hi @Jen – Thanks for writing to us about your 4 month old! We know that this time can be tough, especially when baby is practicing her new-found, or new-remembered skills all night! Things should smooth out, once she has mastered this, and doesn’t “need” to practice all night! Give her plenty of time/opportunity during her awake times, to practice these skills too, to help her get good at this. You can help her to roll both to the left and to the right too! Hopefully things will smooth out very quickly! Good luck Jen, and please feel free to contact us at any time if you’d like more help!
hi I have a 4-month-old baby who loves to roll over to his belly while he sleeps I’m just worried he will breathe in his own breath while we sleeping at night
Hi Jaye – Thanks for writing about your baby rolling over in his sleep! You may want to ask your baby’s doctor to see if he’s ready to be sleeping on his stomach. If he’s not ready, use some of our tips form this page to help! Good luck Jaye!
Hi there my 4 month old baby would roll over and try to sleep on her stomach unfortunately she is unable to roll on her back and I’m very worry to leave her on her stomach and she will cry and try to roll back again on her stomach what should I do
Hi @Karen – Thanks for writing to us, and I know how worrisome it can be when baby starts rolling over in her sleep! For information just for your little one and her development, please talk to her pediatrician. Keep putting baby down to sleep on her back, and and use the tips on this page! Hang in there, and know that this will not last forever. She’ll be rolling both ways very soon! You can practice rolling back over during her awake time too, to help her get there! Good luck!
My baby will be 3 months Tuesday and he already knows how to roll over . It is very scary . I lay him on his back and he likes to roll over on his tummy in his sleep .(I think he likes it that way ) but it scares me so I roll him over in the middle of the night every night. But when I give him tummy time , he doesn’t like it . I’m scared and confused ..help?
@Kayla – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. This can be a scary time indeed, though it, too, shall pass! Back to sleep is the general recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some babies do start rolling over at such a young age and recommendations from pediatricians can be mixed. Some recommend rolling baby back over and others recommend leaving your baby to sleep this way especially if the baby is a bit older with proper neck control and can roll back. You should reach out to your child’s healthcare provider to see his/her recommendation for your little guy. Best of luck!
My little one is 4 months old and just mastered rolling on her tummy. She rolls over and won’t flip back by herself so therefore we have to go get her and turn her back but it’s scary. How can get her to stop rolling?
Hi @Selene Alfaro, thanks for writing to us, I’m happy to help. This milestone while is an important one, can definitely be scary when it is related to sleep, but thankfully it won’t last long before she’s able to roll herself back the other way so you do not have to worry that she wouldn’t have the strength to keep her head up. I would recommend that if you are swaddling her, that you stop or begin transitioning her out of it by swaddling with her arms out so she is able to easily lift her head if she rolls during sleep. Here is a link about how to transition out of the swaddle: https://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/swaddling-how-to-when-to-stop/
During the day I’d also suggest lots of tummy time! That will build those muscles so she will eventually learn to roll from tummy to back, which I would guess would come quickly. If she hates it, maybe try getting her some interesting and colorful toys, and getting down there with her and talking to her. I personally also liked to roll my kids back and forth during tummy time to help them understand what the goal was. 🙂 Hang in there, this will be over soon as she continues to grow and figure this out. Let us know if you need anything else!
My 4 month old is a tummy sleeper and has slept 12 hours at night since she was 2 months old (I sleep train my babies). She’s begun rolling from her tummy to her back at random hours of the night, and I would love to just let her play with herself back to sleep… However she screams for over an hour without us going in and rolling her back over to her tummy (where sometimes she’ll fall back asleep or she will just roll over again, even with blanket tucking around her) . Any help you could give to teach her to fall back asleep without screaming for over an hour? She sleeps in the room with our 2 year old (thankfully she sleeps through most of the fussing) but is sometimes woken up way earlier than she should be.
@Olivia – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. Babies rolling during sleep and waking themselves (and their parents) can be extremely frustrating and exhausting. We know your pain! Unfortunately, there’s no real cure for this and no huge reason for you not to help her roll back on her tummy if that helps calm her down (other than the frustrating and exhausting point I mentioned!). This, generally, is a short-term problem thankfully. Please keep safety in mind if there are blankets in her sleeping space as loose blankets can be quite a hazard. I hope this helps, Olivia. Hang in there!
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