I loved seeing my daughter recently attempt a forward roll in our living room. She was so proud of herself when she could do it. It brought back memories of doing them myself when I was a boy, but I think I’d do my back now in if I tried one! Once babies start walking, there’s no stopping them. From this moment onwards, as they transition into toddlers and young children, they seem to have limitless amounts of energy. This can involve jumping on trampolines, running around with their friends, performing cartwheels and doing forward rolls and somersaults.
In this article, let’s look at whether toddlers should really be doing forward rolls and somersaults. Are they too young at this age? Is it dangerous? Or as a parent, should you just go with the flow and let them have fun doing them?
What are forward rolls?
A forward roll is a basic gymnastics move. It involves crouching down, placing your hands shoulder width apart and tucking your chin towards your chest. You then push over onto your upper back and your body rolls forward, keeping your spine curved. Throughout the process your body is always in contact with the ground.
What are somersaults?
A basic somersault looks very similar to a forward roll, and the process is almost the same. However, the main difference is that your jump into the roll slightly, and your may land on your feet. More advanced somersaults involve doing complete flips in the air. A forward roll is easier to do for beginners than a somersault.
What are the benefits of doing forward rolls and somersaults?
Here are some of the benefits of doing these moves:
- Build confidence
Once children can do a basic forward roll, it gives them a lot of confidence. In fact any time a child learns and performs a new skill by themselves, it gives them a big ego boost!
- They’re fun to do.
Children can have a lot of fun doing forward rolls in the garden, on mats or in the park.
- Improved awareness and self-control.
Performing a forward roll or somersault is not just some exercise for the body. It helps the awareness of the body and mind in understanding how to do the task.
- Improved strength.
A forward roll can improve your child’s overall core strength as it involves a lot of different muscle groups.
When can a toddler do a forward roll or somersault?
On average most children can start doing somersaults and forward rolls when they are around 3 years old, but some can do them from as a young as 18 months.
Can they hurt their neck doing them?
When your toddler starts doing forward rolls and somersaults, ensure they do it in a safe area, with the right technique. They can hurt their neck, but this will only happen if they don’t tuck in their chin towards their chest properly.
Is it safe for toddlers to do somersaults?
Yes, providing they’re doing it in a safe environment with the right technique. If you are unsure if your toddler is doing them correctly, check out some videos on YouTube.
How do you teach a toddler to do a forward roll or somersault?
Here’s a good video outlining the right approach for learning a forward roll. It demonstrates how you should use an incline mat which helps a child get used to the sensation of rolling.
This method really helps a child get used to rolling before attempting an actual forward roll.
- They should do a sideways log roll and an egg rolls down the incline mat first.
- Then when they are ready, they should put their feet shoulder width apart, put their hands to the floor and put their chin on their chest. To perform the forward roll, they just need to bend their arms from this position and roll forward.
- Once they can do this, they repeat the process but with their feet together.
- After this, you can take away the incline mat and just do a forward roll on the floor.
How do you do a backward roll?
Here’s a great video outlining how toddlers can learn a backward roll.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.