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Infant Reflexes

Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions. Some movements are spontaneous, occurring as part of the baby's usual activity. Others are responses to certain actions. Reflexes help identify normal brain and nerve activity. Some reflexes occur only in specific periods of development.

The following are some of the normal reflexes seen in newborn babies:

Reflex

Happens when…

Response

Reflex Disappears

Root reflex

When the corner of the baby's mouth is stroked or touched…

This helps the baby find the breast or bottle to begin feeding.

The baby will turn his/her head and open his/her mouth to follow and "root" in the direction of the stroking.

3-4 months

Suck reflex

When the breast nipple touches the roof of the baby's mouth…

Sucking is connected to the rooting reflex and is important as baby becomes ready to latch on the breast.

The baby will begin to suck.

After 3 months

Moro reflex
startle reflex”

When a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement…

Baby throws back his/her head, extends out the arms and legs, cries, then pulls the arms and legs back in.

Between 5-6 months

Tonic neck reflex
"fencing" position

When a baby's head is turned to one side…

Baby’s arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends up at the elbow.

6-7 months

Grasp reflex

Stroking the palm of a baby's hand…

Baby will close his/her fingers in a grasp.

2-3 months

Babinski reflex

When the sole of the foot is firmly stroked…

Baby’s big toe bends back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out.

2 years of age

Step reflex
walking or dance reflex”

Hold your baby up over a flat surface…

Baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his/her feet touching a solid surface.

 



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Updated May 10, 2013