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Read your Baby’s Reflexes

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 24-11-2006

When babies are born, they exhibit certain reflexes. These reflexes are used by a pediatrician to tell if your baby’s central nervous system is functioning properly.

Check your baby for the following reflexes:

  • Moro: This is also known as the ‘startle reflex.’ Babies demonstrate this response by throwing out their arms to the side, and then pulling them back in and clenching their fists. Babies typically display this response in reaction to something that startles them, such as a loud noise or being handled suddenly.

  • Rooting: This reflex helps the newborn to find food. The baby turns in response to a touch on the cheeks by moving towards its source and moving the head from side to side until the mother’s breast is found. By about three weeks, they are able to connect to the breast without searching for it.

  • Stepping: Here, babies move a foot forward in front of the other, in response to being held erect with their soles touching a flat surface. This response is given up by the time babies are about two months old. It then reappears when the baby is about a year old.

Let your pediatrician know if your baby does not show these responses or if they are slower than they should be.