Your Baby's Reflexes
Moro or Startle Reflex
One of your baby's most dramatic reflexes is called the Moro or startle reflex. Any sudden change in position or jarring of the crib set it off. A baby will usually fling her arms out away from her body. Next she'll bring them back in, as if she were hugging herself. Then she may cry.
Many parents know the grasp reflex. If you stroke the palm of your baby's hand, his fingers will close into a fist. You can use this reflex to help get tiny hands through the sleeves of a shirt or blouse.
Babies also have a similar reflex with their feet. If you press the ball of the foot, babies will curl their toes.
If you touch your baby's cheek, she will turn toward the cheek being touched. This is called the rooting reflex. It's very helpful when your newborn is feeding. She will turn toward the nipple when the nearest cheek is stroked.
The sucking reflex often occurs with the rooting reflex, but may occur by itself. Touch your baby's lips. Watch the sucking and swallowing motions that your newborn makes.
Some reflexes are our defenses. Examples: Coughing and sneezing. When something covers a baby's face, he will swipe at it over and over again. He's trying to remove the covering. This reflex can be very helpful. But it may also be why your baby makes such a fuss when you pull a shirt on or off over his head.
Finally, the Babkin! When your baby is awake, gently press the palms of both his hands at the same time. Watch what happens to your baby's mouth! Your baby opens his mouth and drops his tongue to the bottom of his mouth.
Babies have these reflexes at birth, but the reflexes disappear after a few months. If your newborn doesn't respond, she may be in the wrong state. Try again later.
If your baby never seems to respond, talk to your health care provider about your concerns.
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