Baby reflexes- Know what your baby is telling you

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Given below are a few reflexes you should know so that it doesn’t startle you:

  1. Sucking reflex: Sucking on the nipple automatically when placed on the breast.
  2. Startle reflex: Pulling the limbs closer to the body when loud noises are heard.
  3. Step reflex: Imitating motions of walking when the soles touch hard surface.
  4. Grasp reflex: Place a finger in your baby’s open palm and feel its grip. Babies’ grips are so strong that they can hold their own weight if dangled!
  5. Galant reflex: Stroke your baby’s back and watch it dance! This is the normal gallant reflex.
  6. Rooting reflex: Stroke your baby’s cheek and the baby will turn its head towards the stroked cheek and make sucking noises.
  7. Parachute reflex: This is seen in slightly older infants. Stand the baby and rotate it quickly with its face down. The baby anticipates a fall and puts out his arm in defence.
  8. Fencer’s position/Tonic neck reflex: While your baby is lying calmly on its back, gently turn its head to the left. Watch the left arm go away from the body with the palm slightly open. The right arm is brought to the chest with the fist clenched. Turn its head to the right and watch the reverse happen.

These reflexes are outgrown. Some reflexes are carried over into adulthood too. They include:

  1. Cough Reflex: Coughing when airway gets stimulated
  2. Blink Reflex: Blinking of eyes when there is sudden bright light or when there is some irritation to the eyes.
  3. Gag Reflex: Gagging when the back of the mouth is irritated.
  4. Sneeze Reflex: Sneezing when the nasal passages are irritated.
  5. Yawn Reflex: Yawning when the brain needs more oxygen.