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Newborn Reflexes

Most newborns are born with a variety of reflexes, which help them engage with their caretakers and ensure they will be taken care of. For example, if you gently stroke your baby's right cheek, she will turn her head to the right, looking for a nipple (the "rooting reflex"). Other newborn reflexes include the stepping reflex, extrusion reflex, and the "startle" reflex.

An Introduction to Reflexes in Newborn Babies

Newborn babies come equipped with a healthy variety of talents. Researchers have found that these talents, or reflexes, actually help babies engage with their caretakers to foster the special bonds that ensure they will be taken care of.
Here are the reflexes most newborns are born with:
  • Rooting reflex
  • Palmer grasp reflex
  • Moro reflex (the "startle" reflex)
  • Galant reflex
  • Extrusion reflex
  • Plantar grasp
  • Stepping reflex
  • Tonic neck reflex.

Newborn Reflexes Explained

The following sections explain in detail the types of reflexes generally seen in a newborn.
Rooting Reflex
You'll notice the rooting reflex in your newborn if you gently stroke its right cheek. She will turn her head to the right, usually looking for a nipple. The same should happen on the left side as well. This is called "rooting." It can even happen by accident if the baby brushes her own face with her hands or sleeve.
Palmar Grasp Reflex
This is always a fun one to see. If you place your finger into the palm of your baby's hand, his fingers will grasp your finger and hold on tightly. It's as if he were born knowing that he wanted to hold your hand!
Baby Milestones You've Never Heard Of

Newborn Development Information

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