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Newborn Reflexes

It may take you a while to get accustomed to your newborn's behavior. Baby's reactions to the various stimuli are different. You will need to observe these reactions. Being individuals already at such a tender age, it is important to become familiar with these baby traits. These very traits will contribute to baby's personality in the future.

As baby learns to manipulate and direct his reactions, she will automatically produce less random reactions; for example your newborn will scrunch her whole face when she sees you but at 2 months she will give you a smile.

What are Reflexes

All healthy babies have numerous reflexes that can be stimulated soon after birth. Reflexes are involuntary actions the baby makes, which in time (about 3 months later), will be replaced by conscious movements. Certain reflexes are only present in the newborn phase. These unconscious movements are indicative of normal brain and nervous system.

Other Facts on Reflex

Instinctive reflexes reflect on baby's maturity until he has developed his physical and mental abilities

Premature babies react differently from full term babies

Reflexes help doctors determine baby's general wellbeing and the functioning of his nervous system

Newborns have about 70 primitive reflexes

The two most common reflexes are rooting and grasp

Some of the more common Reflexes

Rooting reflex:

This is considered a basic instinct as it helps baby feed. Rooting reflex helps the newborn to find the breast or bottle and suck it. When the baby's mouth or cheek is stroked, it responds by 'rooting' or turning and opening its mouth in the direction of the finger. This reflex continues for a few months until baby is able to turn voluntarily.

Grasp reflex:

baby grasps anything that is placed into her fist. For example if you were to stroke your tot's palm with your finger, your baby will catch you by surprise and clench it quite tightly. The grasp is more firm in premature babies; it usually disappears within few weeks. The grasp is tight enough to support baby's entire weight although it is not advisable that you try this with your newborn.

Sucking reflex:

when you touch the roof of baby's mouth, its natural instinct will be to suck. Sucking reflex is not fully developed in premature babies and that is why the problems with feeding. This reflex too becomes voluntary after a few months.

Startle reflex:

also called the Moro reflex, it is baby's response to noise and sudden movements. Baby will react by throwing back its head, extending its legs and arms with fingers outstretched, and cry to basically prevent him from falling. The baby will then pull back its arms and legs. The amazing thing is babies can be startled by their own cries. This reflex goes away when baby is about 6 months old.

Tonic neck reflex:

when you turn baby's head to the side, the arm on that side extends out and the arm opposite bends at the elbow. Also called the fencing reflex, it disappears when baby is about 7 months of age.

Step reflex:

if you hold baby upright and let baby's feet touch a firm surface and your newborn will mimic a stepping action. This has nothing to do with actual walking. This reflex is also aptly called the 'dance or walking' reflex. It disappears in about a month and does not help your baby learn to walk.


when placed on the stomach, your baby will automatically assume the crawling position with its pelvis high and knees pulled up under the abdomen. When he kicks his legs, it may appear like vague crawling. Things change when baby's legs uncurl and he begins to lie flat in a few weeks time

Babinski reflex:

try stroking baby's foot and the big toe will bend toward the top of the foot and the other toes will fan or spread out. This reflex goes on for about 2 years

Eye reflex:

baby either closes his eyes, blinks, moves his eyes from one side to the other and all this depends on the action around him.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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