I dug up some posters I made as part of my Montessori studies. I have a huge one following the physical, emotional and intellectual development of the 0-2 year old which is very interesting. I also had a poster of newborn baby reflexes. Since it is only a matter of time before Nicky loses these abilities, I thought I’d test them out before he loses them forever! Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions. Some are spontaneous and others are in response to certain actions. They help identify normal brain and nerve activity. Here are some reflexes seen in newborn babies.
1 Rooting Reflex This reflex begins with the gentle stimulation down the facial fold of the cheek (or the corner of the baby’s mouth). The baby will turn his head and open his mouth to follow and “root” in the direction of the stroking. This helps the baby find the breast or bottle to feed since his eyes don’t focus so well at this stage. He outgrows this reflex after about four months. I think Nicky has outgrown this one, but I do remember that my breastfeeding cushion did initially confuse him at times in turning the wrong way.
2. Swallowing Reflex He is automatically able to swallow food in his mouth. This allows him to take in nutrients and protects against choking. This is a permanent reflex but becomes modified with experience.
3. Sucking reflex This works with the rooting reflex to locate and take the mother’s breast. When the roof of the baby’s mouth is touched, he will begin to suck. This reflex does not begin until about the 32nd week of pregnancy and is not fully developed until about 36 weeks. Thus a premature baby may have a weak or immature sucking ability. When I put my finger in Nicky’s mouth on that back roof he sucks like crazy. Of course he sucks my boob like crazy too, but I wasn’t going to give you that picture!
4. Palmar Reflex This emerges at about 11 weeks in utero and is outgrown by 2-4 months after birth. If you place your finger into the palm of the baby’s hand the thumb will come and lock over you finger, then the baby’s other fingers will lock in the thumb and your finger very tightly. If you do his with both hands at the same time the baby will not let go. (um, not!) This reflex should not be present after one year, and if it is, writing problems will develop. This is because he will grip the pencil so tightly and there is a loss of control of the hand. There will be another problem when it comes to catching a ball.This shows an immaturity of the cerebellum. This is one of the reflexes that I really find so cute. Whenever I met a baby I loved to put my finger in his hand to feel that tiny grasp. I love doing it to Nicky too.
5. Moro reflex The Moro reflex is often called a startle reflex because it usually occurs when a baby is startled by a loud noise, sudden movement or change of light. In response he throws back his head, extends out the arms and legs, cries, then pulls the arms and legs back in. It is like a panic alarm to protect the child, without which he could not be able to call for help. It lasts five to six months. In adulthood another version of this is the startle or Strauss reflex. It is more mature in that in response to a perceived threat the adult will use his senses to decide if he should be frightened or not. If so he will take a rapid breath in, blink, lift his shoulders up and locate the source. People who retain the Moro reflex in later life can be over-reactive or even agoraphobic. Or they will need to be in control to an unhealthy degree. One thing I’ve noticed about Nicky’s arms is that he likes to put them upwards. He even has a “fencing” position where one arm is bent and the other outstretched.
6. Babinski reflex When the sole of the foot is firmly stroked, the big toe bends back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out. This is a normal reflex up till two years of life. It is associated with the upper motor neurons, the pyramidic tract. Nicky’s feet are just the cutest and I love to kiss them when I change his nappy. Well that’s all on the reflexes, folks. In other news, Nicky is managing to roll over! My DH has the magic touch to get him to do it.