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Read some of our great articles on a range of parenting topics from sleeping to teething. We publish new blog posts regularly and feature a number of baby sleep experts and their top tips

what to do when baby rolls on tummy when asleep

What To Do When Baby Rolls on Tummy When Asleep

Parents worry about whether your baby rolling over in their sleep is safe.

Many parents worry about what to do when their baby starts to roll on to their tummy during sleep. Here are a few simple guidelines you can follow.

Remember: current safe sleep guidelines recommend that babies are placed on to their backs to sleep - and since these guidelines were introduced, the cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have fallen. Experts agree that this advice has helped; you can read more from the Lullaby Trust here.

Why babies roll onto their tummy

Quite simply, your baby rolls onto their tummy because they can! A new trick has been discovered and your little one wants to practise. When this happens, your baby is likely to wake up a little more too, since all that rolling about not only disturbs sleep but also leads on to more movements, such as sitting and pulling up. Similarly, when your baby is practising rolling, they may spend a little longer doing this when they are first put down to bed too, so don't be surprised if they take longer to fall asleep.

Tip: Relax

Yes, it’s easier said than done but do try to relax. Safe sleep guidelines are there to give you the knowledge you need to keep your baby as safe as possible while they are asleep. Placing your baby onto their back for sleep is very important, especially for younger babies who are not yet able to roll. But once your baby is able to roll, they are safe to be left to choose their own sleeping position.

Babies that can roll are going to do that, no matter what you do. You cannot stop them from rolling in their sleep. In fact, some babies roll around the crib so much that you would be up and down all night trying to re-position them! The most important thing you can do is to relax and accept that now your baby can roll onto their tummy, there is little you can do to stop them. As long as you keep a close eye on them and are on hand to re-position them if you feel it’s necessary, there is little else you can do.

Always lay your baby on their back to sleep

Again, when you put your baby to bed, always lay them down on her back. After that, if they move, you can re-position them gently if they have rolled over. Make sure that you remove any swaddle blankets (if you use them) and always ensure there is no loose bedding and no toys in the crib. If your baby is a roller, a sleeping bag is by far the best night time bedding for them.

Help your baby with their development

Make sure your baby is given plenty of tummy time when they are awake – that is, you should lie them on their front to encourage them to move towards developmental stages such as being able to hold their head up, look up and roll. This will eventually lead to rocking on hands and knees, then crawling. They can be put onto a mat or rug on the floor, or you can buy a play mat that has different areas of patterns, sound and texture for your baby to explore.

Rolling is a key developmental stage for your baby

Rolling over is all a normal part of baby development and is a phase that may not last long. Some babies grow into tummy sleepers, some revert to their back. We're all unique individuals, after all. However, if you find that your baby is not happy on the tummy but cannot quite roll back again (it happens) then by all means pop in and roll them back again. Your baby will let you know they need you, so there’s no need to keep watch just in case! As with many phases in your baby's development, you can expect this one to last around two to three weeks - so take a deep breath and repeat after me: this too shall pass.

Further reading:

Your baby’s developmental milestones
Food to encourage good baby sleep
Swaddling tips and tricks

Free baby sleep tips according to your baby's age
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