You’ve finally gotten your baby on a sleep routine, and your family is getting good quality nighttime sleep. Then, your little one suddenly learns how to roll and starts waking up at night again.  

Don’t worry! Rolling isn’t an actual sleep regression and won’t cause a permanent change in your precious one’s sleep schedule. Rolling should just cause a temporary disruption in your baby’s sleep. However, your baby will need your help to get through this sleep disruption. 

When do babies learn to roll?

Babies usually learn how to roll over at four to six months old. This is an essential mobility skill for all babies. They typically learn how to roll over from tummy to back first and then, at six to seven months, learn how to roll from back to belly. While parents love seeing their babies learn new skills, it can sometimes cause temporary sleep disruptions. Not just to your baby but to the whole family (now awake because the baby is awake).

Why does rolling interrupt my baby’s sleep?

Rolling over is a new skill your child is learning, and they’re probably very excited to try something new with their bodies. They’ll continue trying it out until they perfect the skill, even when they’re supposed to be sleeping. Similar to grown-ups who postpone sleep to do something fun, little ones will also forego sleep to practice rolling over. 

When babies are learning to roll, rolling can interrupt sleep because the sudden change in their body’s position can be uncomfortable and wake them up. They might roll unknowingly when they’re fast asleep and get surprised when they find themselves in a different place. They might also know only how to roll onto one side, so they wake up trying to figure out how to go back the other way. 

How long will the sleep disruption last?

The good news is that sleep disruptions from rolling usually only last one to two weeks. However, those two weeks can seem like forever when the whole household is awakened by your baby going through this sleep disruption. 

How do I keep my baby safe during this phase?

With your baby rolling and moving around at night, following Safe Sleep Guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics is more crucial than ever. 

First, when your baby shows signs of rolling, stop swaddling them. This will allow them to have freedom of movement and avoid getting tangled up in the swaddle, which is a strangulation risk. If you still want to give them a blanket or swaddle, a sleep sack is a safer choice than swaddling.

Next, your baby should always sleep on a firm surface such as a bassinet, crib, or play yard with only a fitted sheet. Ensure that the crib is free of anything that might tangle or harm your child when they roll over. Do not put loose items such as pillows or stuffed toys in their crib.

Intervene when you feel your child is in an unsafe sleeping position. Give your child the freedom to figure out their sleeping positions on their own, which helps them learn self-soothing techniques. They might discover sleeping on their stomachs or their sides. Also, if your baby is waking up repeatedly throughout the night, you may need to give them extra support in the meantime. 

Sleeping tips for the whole family

Here are some tips that can help your family sleep during this time in your baby’s life:

  • Allow lots of time for practice

Let your child practice rolling throughout the day. They will be less inclined to practice during sleeping time, and they will also learn how to roll over faster. When they know how to roll, it will be easier for them to self-soothe at night, reposition themselves, and fall asleep again independently. 

  • Safety always comes first

Remember to adhere to the safe sleep tips mentioned above. Use a sleep sack, and keep your child’s sleeping area free of blankets, pillows, and other loose items. Also, ensure the mattress is firm and flat with only a fitted sheet.

  • Give them tummy time

When they roll over during the day, allow them to spend time on their tummies. At night, always put your baby to sleep on their back. However, if they roll over and end up on their belly, observe first before intervening. If they seem comfortable, safe and go back to sleep on their own, don’t intervene. 

  • Stay consistent

If your baby has a consistent bedtime routine and is going down independently without any sleep props, stick to it. Even with the rolling getting in the way, stick to your usual routine as much as possible. Remember, your baby is going through a phase, so continue what’s been working as much as possible.

Rolling over is an essential milestone that all babies go through. Don’t let it affect all your hard work when it comes to teaching your baby how to sleep independently. You and your family will go through this phase smoothly with a consistent routine.