Common Newborn Reflexes
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Babies have involuntary movements or actions as part of their usual activity. Some of the movements are spontaneous while others are responses to certain actions. Baby reflexes are important because they help identify normal brain and nerve activity. Some of the reflexes only appear at specific periods of development.
The common reflexes in newborns include:
1. Root reflex
This reflex is a response to a touch or stroke on the corner of the baby’s mouth. In response, the baby turns his or her head and opens his or her mouth to follow and “root” in the direction of the stroking. The root reflex helps babies find the breast or bottle for feeding.
2. Suck reflex
Rooting reflexes help babies get ready to suck. Once the roof the baby’s mouth is touched, the baby begins to suck. The sucking reflex does not begin until the 32nd week of pregnancy. In addition, it fully developed when the baby is 36 weeks old. As a result, premature babies may have weak or immature sucking abilities because of this. The hand-to-mouth reflex goes along with the rooting and sucking reflex and may suck on fingers or hands.
3. Moro reflex
This reflex is also called a startle reflex. The reflex is a result of the startling of a baby usually from loud sound or movement. As a response, the baby throws back his or her head and extends out the arms and legs. He or she will also cry then pulls the arms and legs back in. Your baby may also be startled by his or her own cry. The Moro reflex lasts for 5 to 6 months. The purpose of the Moro reflex is that it is the baby’s first attempt to protect himself or herself from harm.
4. Tonic neck reflex
When you turn your baby’s head is turned to one side, his or her arm on that side stretches out and then his or her opposite arm bends up at the elbow. This position is usually called the “fencing” position. Tonic reflexes last for 6 to 7 months.
5. Grasp reflex
When you stroke the palm of your baby’s hand, the grasp reflex causes the baby to close his or her fingers in a grasp. The reflex lasts for 5 to 6 months.
6. Babinski reflex
When you firmly stroke the sole of your baby’s foot, the Babinski reflex causes the big toe to ben back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out. The Babinski reflex is normal to about 2 years of age. The purpose of the Babinski reflex is seen to prepare baby developmentally for walking several months to come.
7. Step reflex
This reflex is also known as walking or dance reflex. This is because the baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his or her feet touching a solid surface.
Newborn reflexes are important. They are used by healthcare providers to determine if the brain and nervous system are working well.