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Special Topic: What Are Normal Infant Reflexes?


Do you know that newborn babies are born with involuntary motor responses (reflexes) to several particular stimuli? Physicians, nurses, and physiotherapists rely on assessing these reflexes to ensure your baby is developing healthy! These unique reflexes play an important role in the survival of the baby.

Today we are going to share with you 4 infant (primitive) reflexes that can be observed in healthy infants!

1) Rooting Reflex

Adults can test this reflex by lightly stroking upward on the infant’s cheek, the infant will immediately turn their head towards the side that is being struck. This reflex is necessary for newborn breast feeding, as it allows the baby to find the source of food. This reflex slowly goes away after four months of age and becomes voluntary.

2) Grasping Reflex

When adults apply sustained pressure on the baby’s palm or sole. The baby will respond by grasping on the object by flexing all their fingers or toes. This reflex disappears by 6 months of age.

3) Babinski Reflex

The Babinski reflex is a simple test for the babies’ neurological status. When an adult strokes the baby’s foot from lateral heel to toes, the baby will fan his/her toes and extend the big toe at the same time. This reflex is normal in babies up to 2 years old. However, if an adult responds in the same way, this is often a sign of a central nervous system disorder.

4) Moro Reflex

Moro reflex is a protective response for an infant to abrupt disruption of body balance. When an infant is being held and suddenly loses his/her head support, the infant will respond by moving both of their arms up and out. This reflex disappears after 6 months of age. However, be aware that even a slight and small drop can elicit the reflex. We should always support the baby’s head at all times, so do not perform this test without the instructions from health care professionals.

The human body is amazing. It is important for you to notice and identify what are abnormal reflexes for early diagnosis of possible lifelong complications. If you suspect that your infant is having an abnormal or absent of reflex, reach out to health care professional as soon as possible!

Reference: Modrell, A. K., & Tadi, P. (2020). Primitive Reflexes. StatPearls [Internet].

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