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Newborn Reflexes

When your baby is born, you will notice that often some involuntary movements will show. These reflexes happen when a part of their body is stimulated for whatever reason. The reflexes will fade after 2 months to a year of age, because in this time the baby brain starts to mature. But until then here are the most common movements your little one makes:

  • Sucking reflex. A newborn sucks when a nipple or finger is placed in his or her mouth.
  • Rooting reflex. When the side of a baby’s cheek is touched, the head turns and his or her mouth “reaches” toward it.
  • Traction response. When a newborn is pulled by the arms from a lying to a sitting position, the head lags at first. The baby then flexes, lifting the head to the mid line of the rest of the body before it falls forward.
  • Palmar grasp. A newborn grasps a finger that is placed on his or her palm.
  • Placing. A newborn flexes the knee and brings the foot up when the sole of his or her foot is rubbed.
  • Startle (Moro) reflex. A startled newborn throws out his or her arms and spreads the fingers.
  • Galant response. A newborn stroked on one side of the spinal column from the neck down to the bottom will flip his or her bottom to the same side (when held on the belly so the back is facing up).
  • Tonic neck reflex. When you turn a newborn’s head to one side, the corresponding arm and leg extend. The opposite arm and leg flex. This is sometimes called the “fencing position.”

Photo credit: Dreaming in the deep south on Visual Hunt / CC BY