Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions. Some movements are spontaneous, occurring as part of your baby's usual activity. Others are responses to certain actions.
Reflexes help identify a baby's normal brain and nerve activity. Some reflexes occur only in specific periods of development. The following are some of the normal reflexes seen in newborn babies:
Root reflex - This reflex begins when the corner of your baby's mouth is stroked or touched. Your baby will turn his head and open his mouth to follow and "root" in the direction of the stroking. This helps your baby find the breast or bottle to begin feeding.
Suck reflex - Rooting helps your baby become ready to suck. When the roof of your baby's mouth is touched, your baby will begin to suck.
Moro reflex- The Moro reflex is often called a startle reflex because it usually occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement. In response to the sound, the baby throws back his head, extends out the arms and legs, cries, then pulls the arms and legs back in. A baby's own cry can startle him and begin this reflex. This reflex lasts about five to six months.
Tonic neck reflex -When a baby's head is turned to one side, the arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends up at the elbow. This is often called the "fencing" position. The tonic neck reflex lasts about six to seven months.
Grasp reflex - Stroking the palm of a baby's hand causes a baby to close his/her fingers in a grasp. The grasp reflex lasts only a couple of months and is stronger in premature babies.
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 to about 2 years of age.
- Step reflex - This reflex is also called the walking or dance reflex because a baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his feet touching a solid surface.