Does Your Baby Jerk or Twitch At Times? Check When to Call The Doctor
9 mins read
Physical development for New Born
Every baby is born with a certain set of reflexes. Whether they are spontaneous or typical responses to certain actions, a reflex is a good sign that your baby is developing well. In the absence of these reflexes, a baby can behave unusually.
Primitive reflexes are nothing but innate survival skills. They are born out of a need to safeguard ourselves from various environmental and physical factors. The impact of reflexes on the development of a newborn baby extends to a certain age after which they usually grow out of it. Track if your baby's development is at a normal pace and if he is showing reflexes as per his age with the list of different newborn reflexes below. Also, find out what signs to look out for to detect any potential problem.
Types of Newborn Reflexes
There are a range of newborn reflexes, some of which last for a few months, while others last a lifetime. The following is a list of infant reflexes and why they are important:
Rooting & Sucking Reflex
In the presence of this reflex, a child automatically turns his face towards a stimulus and makes sucking motions with the mouth. Why it happens: The rooting reflex ensures that your baby gets nutrition by helping him find the nipple and the sucking reflex ensures he gets nutrition. How long it lasts: About four months. Watch out: The reflex can be weak or absent in premature babies or babies with neurological issues where the baby finds it difficult to reach out for a bottle of milk or the breast.
Moro reflex (Startle Reflex)
With the Moro reflex, your little one might just react by throwing his arms, legs, and head back. He may also start crying, which could startle him again. Why it happens: Kirsten Weltmer, M.D., a paediatrician with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, in Kansas City, Missouri says, "one theory suggests that this is an evolutionary response left over from the time when babies had to cling to their mother." However, a concrete reason behind this reflex hasn’t been found. How long it lasts: About 4 to 5 months. Watch out: For little ones with fetal alcohol syndrome and neurological problems, this reflex can persist. If the reflex persists, it could affect your child’s ability to sit.
Did You Know: Retained Moro Reflex
The Moro reflex is a sign of your child's health and is often used to test a healthy nervous system. It is the earliest development of the 'fight or flight' instinct and the only one that ideally disappears as your baby grows older.This reflex should last till about four to five months and is considered abnormal if it lasts longer. If this reflex is retained, it can have far-flung effects on your child's overall development as it overrides the newly acquired higher decision-making skills.
How Does a Retained Moro Reflex Affect your Child?
A 'Retained Moro Reflex' results in over-sensitivity especially to light and sound and can trigger the 'fight or flight' instinct which results in:
Hyperactivity and attention-deficit problems.
After a point, your child may experience fatigue and 'burn out', which will affect his immune system functions
Additionally, your child will showcase withdrawal signs and avoid social interactions or any changes in environment
How To Deal With a 'Retained Moro Reflex'?
The Moro reflex should be tested for at birth along with the APGAR test to check the health of a baby at birth. Along with a good APGAR score, the Moro reflex test should also be healthy to ensure that your baby is adapting well toouside life. The Moro reflex and also be tested for at regular intervals to ensure that it is being integrated well by the baby and diminishing gradually. Should there be any signs of a Retained Moro Reflex, the doctor would ideally have a set of treatment options he will suggest. The earlier this is detected, the better the treatment. Therefore, ensure that you are your regular with these tests for your child to prevent or provide early treatment of a Retained Moro Reflex.
Tonic Neck Reflex (Fencing)
The tonic neck reflex is referred to the position the baby takes when he is laid on his back. The baby turns on his side while stretching out the arm on the same side and bending the opposite arm at the elbow. Why it happens: This position may have a protective role where the baby uses the hands to guard his face, according to some doctors. How long it lasts: Between four and five months Watch out: Absence of reflex or continuous response even after 4-5 months can be seen in neurological disorders.
Grasp Reflex (Palmar Grasp)
This adorable reflex is where the newborn’s hand momentarily curls around any object placed in his hand. Why it happens: This helps the baby develop voluntary grasping and hand movement while also helping to strengthen the bond between mom and baby. How long it lasts: A minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 5-6 months Watch out: This reflex is weak in premature babies and in the absence of this reflex, your little one may not be able to benefit from hand development.However, this can be rectified with therapeutic intervention.
Stepping Reflex (Dancing Reflex)
This reflex refers to when the newborn is held in an upright position on a flat surface, he will tap his feet in a walking motion. Why it happens: The stepping reflex is a part of our primitive reflexes to move and walk. How long it lasts: Around two months. Watch out: Could be asymmetrical or weak in case of any disorders of the central nervous system.
See the 'Stepping Reflex' in action in a newborn as she takes her first steps a few moments after she is born. This may seem like a 'miracle' of sorts, but it is simply a case of an extremely strong stepping reflex!
In the Babinski reflex, your newborn’s feet will curl in and the toes will spread out when the sole of his feet is stroked. Why it happens: This is sign that the nervous system of the newborn is not completely myelinated How long it lasts: Up to 2 years. Watch out: If this reflex lasts longer than 2 years or is seen in older children it could be a sign of an illness.
Tongue-thrust Reflex (Extrusion)
The tongue-thrust reflex is when the baby thrusts his tongue when one touches the tip of his tongue with a finger/nipple. Why it happens: This reflex is a protective reflex against choking and indicates your baby is not ready for solids. How long it lasts: Between four and six months Watch out for: Tongue-thrusting could be continuous or extended during seizures or any central nervous system abnormalities.
When an object comes towards your baby or is too close to your baby’s face, he will turn his head away if he senses danger. Why it happens: Another protective reflex, it is to protect the baby’s face and is seen in adults as well How long it lasts: Lifetime Watch out: Neurologically impaired children will not display this reflex
When you hold your baby downward facing the floor and then swoosh him downward, his hands will automatically spread in an attempt to stop his fall Why it happens: This reflex helps your baby protect his head and neck when he falls. How long it lasts: Appears around 6-8 months and lasts for a lifetime Watch out: This reflex is weak, abnormal or absent in children with Spastic Hemiplegia or Cerebral Palsy
The blink rapid blinking in newborns when an object is near their eyes or if you’re tapping their nose. Why it happens: This reflex helps assess visual attentiveness of your newborn and is a response to protect the eyes from any damage How long it lasts: Lifetime Watch out: A delayed response or continued response after stimulation stops could be a sign of a congenital cataract.
Newborn Reflexes You Should Know
How to Handle Newborn Reflexes
Reflexes in newborns are an indication of their health and you should be contacting the doctor if:
The reflex shows a weak presence or complete absence during the stipulated time period when they should be evident.
Certain reflexes, like the Babinski reflex, should not be present after the stipulated time period or in adults.
Additionally, Your newborn can display certain signs when he acts on a reflex that could cause concern. Check for the following signs to be sure that there is nothing abnormal where you need to call the doctor
The jitters occur when your baby is calm and awake
All of these reflexes are normal in infants and generally disappear as the child grows older. The impact of these reflexes on the development of a newborn baby helps in identifying normal brain and nerve activity.
When your newborn enters this world, his innate survival reflexes help in keeping him safe and are excellent to track whether the central nervous system of the baby is developing properly. These reflexes are an important way of telling you that your baby is responding as he should. Regularly stimulate these reflexes to keep a check and ensure that regular checkups with your paediatrician keep a track of them.