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My daughter is 3 months old and has just learned how to roll over a few days ago.

She's doing it all day long and is now spending a considerable amount of time on her tummy (a dramatic increase in tummy time). We did tummy time with her before and she was holding her head up well (most of the time we used a small tummy time pillow under her chest), but now that she's getting to her tummy on her own without a pillow prop, she's handling it much differently.

She's not using hands for support as much and keeps bopping/bumping her head on the floor (not super hard, but not light either). My concern is that this is bad for her little head. Dad thinks it's fine and that she needs to learn, but I honestly have no idea.

I haven't spent much time around babies so this is all new to me.

Should we allow her to keep bopping her head off the floor while she learns? She's on a baby playmat that is similar to a yoga mat. She got rolling over so quickly, but is not using her hands much. It freaks me out to watch her bump her head. I keep cringing but I don't want to prevent her from learning.

What's a safe way to help her learn? Maybe I'm overthinking things? Should I just let her do her thing?

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    Hi and welcome! This is a very good question. I would not be able to watch my baby bonk her head on the floor either! Don't worry about overthinking. First time parenting is full of questions and worries. We're here to help. :) – anongoodnurse Jan 15 at 18:45
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    This is your first child, am I right? :-) I think it is the same for all parents; we were all super anxious about everything for the first, and the ones after that we are basicallly quite happy to let them play on the motorway. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit :-) – j4nd3r53n Jan 16 at 8:03
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    They have nice thick padded playmats that are much thicker than yogo mats. – GC_ Jan 17 at 3:38
  • @j4nd3r53n Nothing wrong with playing on the motorway - once they got motorway toys and know how to play well with others ;) – Frank Hopkins Jan 18 at 22:51
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This is the result of a normal developmental stage, perhaps made more noticeable in your case by having a baby who started rolling earlier than average, and your baby isn't likely to get severely hurt by just leaving her to it. On the other hand, I have seen babies get a bruise on their forehead from doing this, and I personally couldn't really bear to see my son hitting his head (although he didn't seem a bit bothered). I solved it by putting the playmat on a carpeted area, or I put down a thicker quilt or several bath towels under the matt to provide a little cushioning for his head, and that worked well for us. You can also use those dense foam interlocking 'tiles' that are sometimes used in playrooms or workout areas, or the version sold specifically for a baby play area. (For the same reason that you shouldn't use quilts in the crib, don't leave your baby unattended with stacks of thick blankets or quilts. It's a potential suffocation hazard.)

The stage where your baby keeps letting her head 'drop' will pass quickly as she strengthens her neck muscles, masters rolling and learns to move her head up and down with more precision and control, so it's definitely something that will become less of an issue regardless of if you do something or nothing.

For now, let her keep on 'bopping' as long as she doesn't seem unhappy, but with some extra cushioning for her comfort, and yours.

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    This is a great answer; all fine points and suggestions. I would like to add that in regards to the baby not using her hands as much, this is a normal “regression” that happens when a child is working on mastering a new skill. They concentrate so intensely on the new skill, it’s almost as if they “forget” previously acquired ones for a bit. – Jax Jan 16 at 17:43
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It should not be much of a real problem there. These little ones are on the one hand tougher than they look and on the other hand very light. Their low weight means that stuff that looks like it must hurt often does not hurt them.

You can see the same with kids that are just learning to walk. If an adult were to fall in the same way that those little ones fall, they would often be hurt quite seriously. But those litte ones just stand up as if nothing had happened.

To put this into perspective: I guess when your little one drops her head onto the floor, she starts the movement maybe 15 centimeters above the ground. If you do the same with your head, it might hurt a little but not much at all. But her head weighs only a fraction of your head, so the energy that she hits the floor with is much less.

And the best method of judging if what she is doing is harmful: babies have a very low pain tolerance. If she does not complain, it does not hurt her. If it does not hurt, then no harm is done.

All this might sound a bit cold, but the point I am trying to bring across is that babies and kids are much more robust than people (especially those who haven't been around kids much) give them credit for.

It is never wrong to put some kind of carpet, mat or blanket under her while she is rolling around (also to keep her warm). Also make sure there are no unprotected sharp corners or edges around her play area. But other than that she will be fine.

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Update: I apologize for not responding to your specific concerns the first time. I would say to trust your motherly instincts. If you feel like your little girl is bonking her head too much, she probably is. In that case, I might be inclined to keep them off the floor a bit. Other great ways to work on strengthening the neck are ExerSaucers, and maybe even a Jumper. However, if you're concerned about neck strain, you could buckle her into a comfy bouncer, baby swing, reclined stroller, or even a removable car seat carrier for a short periods. You can use a blanket on the side for extra support with any of these as needed. Just make sure she's secure and safe and has enough support that her head doesn't flop down. Definitely keep an eye on her, especially with anything new that you haven't exposed her to yet. Again, trust your motherly instincts. 😊

As others have said, to some degree, this is normal. They gotta work them little muscles. We used a soft play mat for our kids as well. I would especially recommend this if you have hardwood floor or coarse carpeting. An appropriate soft blank is also ok, as long as you watch them to be sure they don't bunch it up and smother themselves.

Obvious Disclaimer: Never leave small children unattended, even for a minute. It's surprising how much trouble they can get themselves into. If you love your kids, watch them carefully. 😉

We used something like Tiny Love Baby Activity Mat for my children. They loved it!

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  • Thanks for all the responses. We were just referred to early intervention by her pediatrician today for head lag. I'm confused because she does baby "situps" all the time and holds her head up well when she has a prop under her chest but the doctor is concerned. Now I'm even more worried. :( – Astroturf Jan 17 at 14:43

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