Your Newborn’s Reflexes
Babies are born with a set of instinctive movements that are often self-protective. These reflex movements last until your baby begins to learn voluntary control of his muscles, usually at about three to four months.
Until the age of three months, babies automatically grasp hold of things that touch the palm of their hands. They can grip so tightly that they can often support their own body weight from the grasp.
A similar reflex is observed when the sole of the foot is stroked. The foot curls around, as if it’s grasping on to something.
Moro (startle) reflex
Babies react automatically when they hear loud noises, or if they feel like they are falling. They throw out their arms and legs, and arch their backs as if they’re trying to catch hold of something. Then they curl inwards and clench their fists.
Rooting is what a baby does when it’s looking for the breast to start feeding. Stroking the cheek will make your baby turn towards the side being touched. The mouth will be open and ready to feed.
The rooting reflex lasts for three to four months, but you may notice that your baby still has it at an older age when asleep.
Babies have a strong sucking reflex so that they can feed. Pressure on the palate with a finger will make the baby start sucking strongly. The reflex goes on for some time after your finger is removed.
Babies swallow fluid in the womb, so they are born with a strong swallowing reflex. This enables them to feed as soon as they’re born.
Babies also have a gagging reflex to stop them swallowing too much and to stop the fluid entering the lungs.
Walking/stepping Holding a newborn baby upright and touching his feet against a flat surface will make your baby move their legs in a stepping motion. This reflex usually starts at about four days and lasts about two months. It is not the same as walking, and you should not let your baby support his weight on his legs at this point.
This article has been sponsored by the JOHNSON’S® brand.