3 min read

Infant Reflexes

Each of us is born with ingrained abilities; things no one needs to teach us, like blinking.  Here are some of those infant reflexes we all came equipped with at birth.

 

•         Newborn crying:

The sound every parent wants to hear is that first burst of crying at birth.  As you spend more time together, you will begin to recognize differences in the pattern and identify a hungry cry from a distress cry.

•         Sneezing:

Sneezing is an automatic reflex to get rid of irritants and excess mucus from the nasal area.  It does not necessarily mean a cold is coming on.

•         Rooting reflex:

This is an automatic response of the baby that includes sucking sounds when the baby's mouth or lips are touched.  This is a stimulus to eat and helps the baby find and latch onto the nipple.  This will only happen when the baby is hungry.  This should last until around the four month period.

•         Sucking and Swallowing:

This is the innate ability of feeding.  This ends between the second and fourth month when the baby is able to seek the nipple by choice.

Related: Infant Eczema - What you need to know

•         Stepping:

As you hold your baby by the armpits and the baby's feet touch the floor, you will usually see one leg bend and the other straighten.  This is a reflex the baby developed in the womb in order to move around and prevent pressure sores.  At about two or three months this asymmetry 

•         Calming:

There are several techniques to soothe an upset baby.  Swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking all will aid the child to calm down and in turn ease the stress on a parent.  Experts think that this is developed to prevent the baby from too much movement just before birth to avoid breech positions.

•         Grasping Reflex:

It always gives an adult great pleasure when a baby grabs onto a finger with that tiny hand.  Actually in the animal world, it is critical to some species like apes and koalas that cling to their mother's fur while climbing trees.  Just be careful with your own child because before long those fun fingers will find their way to jewelry, glasses, and other tempting items. 

•         Moro Reflex:

This is sometimes called a startle reflex or “I'm falling”.  It is when the baby's arms open wide and then close into a bear hug.  This is to catch themselves from falling or thinking they are falling.  This will extend until the baby is about four or six months old.  Swaddling will prevent it from happening.  If it is not controlled early, it can result in over-sensitivity to other stimuli.  Growing up it can lead to impulse control, motion sickness, and anxiety. 

 

There are a number of other infant reflexes that you can learn about.  If you find that your child is not demonstrating one or more, consult with your doctor to rule out other problems.  Similarly, if they do not disappear when scheduled, talk about it.  Maintaining some of these conditions could indicate an underlying problem that you want to identify as quickly as possible.

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