Understanding Newborn Reflexes

newborn reflexesUsually, reflexes are involuntary actions or movements.

Some of the movements are spontaneous and occur as a part of the baby’s usual activity, whereas others are reactions to definite actions.

Reflexes mainly help you to identify normal nerve and brain activities.

At some times, you will notice other reflexes.

Here are the various reflexes that can be observed in your infant:

Sucking reflex: Sucking cannot be considered as reflexive. Whenever the roof of your baby’s mouth is touched, your baby will start sucking its finger.

This ensures that your baby is going to nurse on a bottle or breast and starts sucking when something is placed in his mouth. This is slowly replaced by intended sucking.

Rooting reflex: Whenever you rub your baby’s cheek, s/he will turn towards you for food. This is very useful when leaning to breastfeed your infant. This disappears by about 4 months.

You can also observe this condition when your baby rubs his face with his hands. During feeding time, it will be very frustrating for you if the baby flails his arms. Place a blanket on him to fix his arms close to his body.

Tonic neck reflex: This reflex can also be called a fencing reflex because of the position that your baby assumes. Whenever your baby lies on his back, the head turns to one side, the arm at that part extends and the opposite one turns up at the elbow. This is often called the fencing position, and it usually lasts for about five to six months.

Moro reflex: This is also called the startle reflex as it occurs when your child is startled by loud voice or movement.

As a response to the loud voice, your child throws his head back, expands the legs and arms and again pulls the legs and arms back in.

Your child’s own cry can startle him and begins the reflex. Usually, this reflex lasts about 5-7 months.

Grasp reflex: When you stroke the palm of your baby’s hand, it causes the baby to close his fingers in a grasp. This reflex exists for a few months only and is prevalent in premature babies.

Plantar reflex: When you stroke the sole of your baby’s feet, his toes will stretch and the foot will rotate a little inwards. This reflex is also known as Babinski reflex, and is fun to observe. This will disappear by the end of the first year.

Step reflex: It can also be called a dance or walking reflex. You can also observe this reflex when you hold your baby upright in his foot on a solid surface. [Baby Walker]


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