The newborn baby's reflexes

If you see a smile on your newborn baby's face, it might be an infantile reflex. Not that it matters much, the important thing is that you smile back.

Healthy children are born with a number of reflexes. These can be triggered by teasing them in a certain way, and it's a way to check that the child's nervous system is working properly. Further reading: Schedule - The child's motor skills development from 0-18 months and Baby swim

The midwife and paediatrician check the child's reflexes just after they are born. Some of the reflexes gradually disappear.

• The Moro reflex:
If you let the baby's head fall backwards towards your cupped hands, so it feels like it is falling, the baby will instantly react by grabbing out with both arms in a hugging motion. It's a primitive, old reflex that was designed to make the child cling onto its mother.

• The palmar grasp reflex:
If you stimulate the palm of their hand or the sole of their foot, your child will clench their fingers or toes straight away.

• The walking/stepping reflex:
Walking seems to be a fully developed operation from the very beginning. If you hold your newborn baby and let their feet brush against the surface below them, their legs will start to move in a walk-like fashion. When they learn to walk around 10-12 months, this is a further development of that.
• The seek and suck reflex:
A child clearly demonstrates when it wants a breast, makes sucking motions with its lips, touches its lips with its fingers or opens its mouth widely, seeking with its mouth.

• Bite and chew reflexes:
Appears at about 5-6 months, which means that the child bites down when something is in its mouth.

• The laryngeal chemoreflex:
The laryngeal chemoreflex is a response reaction that, for example, closes the larynx when water or other liquids enter their throat. The reflex also involves arm and leg motions to assist even the smallest babies up to the surface.

• The trigeminus reflex:
This reflex is activated when the area around the nose and forehead come into contact with water, and generates a similar response to the laryngeal reflex, except that there are no swallowing motions in this one.

• The facial reflex:
This reflex is activated when the face comes into contact with water, and also helps to protect the airways from water.
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