Growth & Development

Understanding Reflexes

Your baby is born with some automatic responses, called reflexes, that can be confusing to new parents.  We’ve explained a few of them below.

  • Babinski Reflex – Toes flex outward when the bottom of the foot is stroked.
  • Moro Reflex (Startle Reflex) – Extends arms, then pulls them in toward body. This is caused by loud sounds or sudden movements.
  • Palmar Hand Grasp – Closes his hand and “grips” your finger.
    *Note: until he learns how to let go of his grasp, don’t give him a rattle.
  • Placing – Leg extends when bottom of the foot is touched.
  • Plantar Grasp – If you touch the area/crease where your baby’s toes start, his toes will curl.
  • Rooting and Sucking – Turns head in search of nipple when cheek is touched and begins to suck when nipple touches lips.
    *Note: babies need to suck at this stage. After you have established breastfeeding (2-3 weeks) you can use a pacifier to help satisfy this urge.
  • Stepping and WalkingTakes brisk steps when both feet are placed on a surface, with his upper body supported by you.
Content created in partnership with
Seedlings Group