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Roll, Evie, Roll!

young girl with toys

About this Video

In this video, 5-month-old Evie interacts with things around her, with encouragement from her father, Rob. As part of that interaction, she rolls from back to tummy for the first time. This video provides the opportunity to consider several topics—infant physical development, talking to babies, and family communication.

Infant Physical Development.

Rolling from back to tummy is an important milestone for a baby. Being able to complete a roll is a challenge for a little one. It takes muscle coordination and perseverance. A baby who can roll over without help has gained a new skill—and greater independence. She is now able to make herself more comfortable or to change the way she looks at the world. She is also closer to being in position to creep and crawl. Many parents find that their growing babies want to turn over without help. In fact, a baby may become frustrated if someone helps her roll over when she can almost do it herself!

In this video, Evie’s father does not help her turn over. Even though he says, “Come on, one more time!” he doesn’t touch her. Instead, he lets her keep trying while his words and attention show his interest in what she is doing.

Talking to Babies.

Most children Evie’s age cannot yet understand words, but they usually recognize and respond to a friendly or encouraging tone of voice. Many adults speak to babies in specific way—talking more slowly and in a rather high-pitched voice. This is so common that it is sometimes referred to as “parent-speak” or “motherese.” In this video, Rob’s speech sounds relatively normal compared to the exaggerated way of talking some adults use with babies. Even so, he lets his excitement show when she finally rolls over to her tummy.

Instead of trying to get her to smile, laugh, or vocalize, he focuses his attention on what his daughter seems to be interested in doing. For example, at the beginning of the video, he speaks to her about the sounds she makes. He then talks to her about her efforts to roll over, in a voice that conveys interest but is not overly excited.

Shortly after she rolls over, Rob asks her a few questions that are similar to questions that older children or adults might ask each other: “How’s life on your stomach like this? Is it better?”

Then he begins to “speak for her.” That is, he makes a few statements that he imagines Evie herself might make at the moment if she could talk: “Look at me, Nana Kay! Look at me, Papa!” He speaks in short sentences and takes cues from what his daughter seems to be paying attention to at any given moment—her play mat, her keys, her toy tiger (“That’s Tony. He’s a tiger.”) When he does this, he is modeling how a person might have an ordinary conversation.

Family Communication.

Rob originally made this video to keep his own parents informed about their granddaughter. This kind of communication can become a family tradition that helps to strengthen the bond between Evie and her grandparents, whom she sees only a few times a year. In this case, her grandparents are able to share in the excitement of seeing her roll over for the first time. As she grows older, Evie will be able to participate more fully in making these videos.

Evie’s parents and grandparents have decided together what they would like for Evie to call her grandparents, and they have begun referring to them in that way (“Nana Kay” and “Papa”) so that she will be accustomed to it as she learns to talk.



Evie lies on her back on a play mat. She touches the toys hanging in front of her face.

Evie squeals.

Rob: Oh, yeah, I heard it that time. That’s good.

Evie glances at her father as he speaks. She then turns her attention back to the hanging toys very briefly, vocalizes, then tries to roll over by turning to her left.

Rob: Oop, all right.

He quickly moves to the other side of the play mat with the camera so he can see Evie’s face. Evie is on her left side, and her head is up off the mat. She waves her right arm and almost completes a roll before rolling onto her back again.

Rob: Oh, you almost made it, honey!

Evie tries again, rolling onto her left side.

Rob: Yeh, get the feet.

Evie almost completes the roll but relaxes her efforts, vocalizes a few syllables, and lies on her back with fingers of her left hand in her mouth.

Rob: Oh, come on, one more time. (Evie vocalizes several syllables.)

Rob: You can do it. There you go. (Evie moves her right arm in a “digging” motion.) Dig-dig-dig!

Evie seems to exert her whole body in an effort to roll over.

Rob: Daddy believes in you. Daddy be—ahh! (Evie completes the roll.) Heyyy! Hey, tummy-baby! How’s it goin’?

Evie glances at her father and coughs slightly.

Rob: How’s life on your stomach like this? Is that, is it better?

Evie keeps her head up, looks down at her play mat, then to her left, and down.

Rob: Say, “Look at me, Nana Kay! Look at me, Papa! I’m hangin’ out here on my stomach. I’m just checkin’ out my play mat. Look at all these designs. Those are keys. Hm. Interesting. I never saw that laying on my back.”

Evie kicks her feet and moves her head as she continues to look around. She glances at a toy tiger hanging beside her, then looks away again.

Rob: This here’s Tony. My tiger. He’s a buddy. We hang out in the afternoon sometimes.

Evie moves her legs and arms, glances at her father, and vocalizes.

Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three & How They Were Met

This list shows how Evie’s actions in the video relate to some standards in the birth-to-three guidelines.

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Attention Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months):
    • Focuses on objects in the environment during alert states
    • Explores environment through senses, e.g., touches and mouths objects
  • Action: Evie focused on the toys hanging above her before she rolled over, touching them with her hands. After rolling over, she looked briefly at parts of her play mat and at various toys around her.

Self-Regulation: Foundation of Development
Behavior Regulation
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to manage and adjust behaviors in accordance with social and cultural contexts.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Physically explores environment through touch, e.g., sucking, gnawing, hitting, pulling, banging
  • Action: Evie apparently wished to roll over as part of her interaction with the environment, and she continued to try to do so in spite of some difficulty. She seemed satisfied with the results of her efforts to turn over. Turning over unassisted enables a baby to make herself more comfortable as needed, or to get a different perspective on her environment.

Developmental Domain 1: Social & Emotional Development
Attachment Relationships
Children form secure attachment relationships with caregivers who are emotionally available, responsive, and consistent in meeting their needs.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Responds to caregiver(s) by smiling and cooing
  • Action: Evie cooed, gurgled, and squealed as her father watched her and talked to her.

Developmental Domain 1: Social & Emotional Development
Emotional Expression
Children demonstrate an awareness of and the ability to identify and express emotions.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Expresses emotions through sounds and gestures, e.g., squeals, laughs, claps
  • Action: Evie’s vocalizations and kicking when batting her toys demonstrated excitement. She made sounds of effort and frustration when attempting to roll, and her vocalizations after turning over suggest that she is satisfied, perhaps surprised, and interested in her surroundings.

Developmental Domain 2: Physical Development & Health
Gross Motor
Children demonstrate strength, coordination, and controlled use of large muscles.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Rolls from back to stomach and from stomach to back
  • Action: Evie coordinated a variety of movements and expended considerable effort to roll from her back to her tummy. She then propped herself up on her elbows to admire the world from that angle.

Developmental Domain 2: Physical Development & Health
Fine Motor
Children demonstrate the ability to coordinate their small muscles in order to move and control objects.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Reaches for objects
  • Action: Evie reached for the objects hanging from the activity gym.

Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
Expressive Communication
Children demonstrate the ability to understand and convey thoughts through both nonverbal and verbal expression.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Coos and uses physical movements to engage familiar others
  • Action: Evie’s gurgles, coos, and squeals conveyed her emotions as she played with the activity gym and rolled over. She gurgled and squealed while on her tummy, and made variety of mouth movements without vocalizing.

Developmental Domain 4: Cognitive Development
Safety & Well-Being
Children demonstrate the emerging ability to recognize risky situations and respond accordingly.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months):
    • Actively observes and explores environment
    • Uses physical movements to explore environment, e.g., reaching, sitting, rolling
  • Action: Before turning over, Evie looked at and touched toys hanging in front of her. Rolling over enabled her to explore from a different perspective. She continued to observe her surroundings and to explore her play mat with her hands.

Approaches to Learning
Confidence & Risk-Taking
Children demonstrate a willingness to participate in new experiences and confidently engage in risktaking.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Attempts new skills on his or her own while “checking in” with a familiar adult, e.g., a new crawler begins to move, then turns toward the caregiver for reassurance before crawling away
  • Action: While her father watched and verbally encouraged her, Evie tried an activity that she had not yet been able to do – rolling from back to front.

Approaches to Learning
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Children demonstrate the ability to remain engaged in experiences and develop a sense of purpose and follow-through.

  • Indicators for children (birth – 9 months): Repeats interesting actions over and over
  • Action: Evie used several different actions when trying to roll over – leaning to the left, reaching with her right arm, kicking her feet. She continued these actions until she was able to roll over.