Although she does not have much control over her body, your newborn appears to magically know exactly how to get her needs met. When she is hungry and her cheek is stroked, Baby will turn her head toward the person holding her to receive milk. She will know to grasp your hand with her tiny fingers when her palm is stroked. You don’t have to teach your baby these skills. She’s born knowing how to breath, cry, and suckle. Babies are born with over eighty reflexes, allowing them the ability to do things without more developed muscles. In order to provide more perspective on the numerous reflexes babies have, here are just a few of the essential reflexes present at birth.
Baby Reflexes Present at Birth
Disappears around: 2 months
The Moro Reflex, sometimes referred to as the startle reflex, occurs as a response to the sudden loss of support, abrupt temperature change, or a loud noise. In response, an infant will suddenly spread out their arms upward then bring their arms back towards their body. Crying may occur once the arms have been brought back towards the body.
Disappears around: 2 months
The Walking/Stepping Reflex can be seen when an infant is held over a flat surface and the soles of their feet touch the surface. When held in this manner, the infant will attempt to take steps or walk on the surface, regardless of the fact that they cannot hold their own weight at this point in time. Experts believe this reflex is related to what’s known as the breastfeeding crawl. If a baby is placed on her mother’s belly immediately following birth, the baby will “crawl” up and latch on to nurse with very little assistance. Babies use the stepping reflex to achieve this amazing feat.
Disappears around: 4 months
The Rooting Reflex aids in breastfeeding. This reflex occurs when the cheek of an infant is stroked. The infant will respond to the stroke by turning his head toward the object.
Disappears around: 3 months
This reflex causes a newborn to instinctively suck when something touches the roof of the mouth. Like the rooting reflex, this reflex aids in breastfeeding.
Tonic Neck Reflex
Disappears around: 5-7 months
When a baby’s head is turned right or left, the arm on that side of the body will stretch out and the opposite arm will bend. This reflex is also referred to as the “fencing” position and is said to be a precursor of hand-eye coordination.
Palmar Grasp Reflex
Disappears around: 5-6 months
This reflex occurs as a reaction to the stroking of a baby’s palm. When stroked, the baby will close his fingers as if to grasp something.
Disappears around: 12 months
This reflex occurs when the sole of the foot is stroked or stimulated. In reaction, a newborn’s toes will fan out and the big toe will move towards the top of the foot. This reflex is reversed in adults.