Neonatal Reflexes

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Also known as "Primitive Reflexes"


See also these assocated articles:


  • Moro reflex (or startle reflex). Symmetrical extension of arms and legs on startling. Usually tested by allow the baby's head to fall backwards suddenly. Loud sudden noises will precipitate the reflex. Observe for any asymmetry (abnormal). Inhibited at 3-6 months.
  • Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex. As the head turns to one side, the ipsilateral arm and leg extends while the contralateral limbs flex ('fencer pose'). Inhibited by 4-6 months.
  • Symmetrical tonic neck reflex. Extension of the neck produces arm extension and leg flexion. Vice versa with neck flexion. Inhibited at 6 months.
  • Grasping reflex. Palmar reflex. An object or finger placed in the palm is automatically grasped. Inhibited at 4-6 months.
  • Rooting reflex. Head is turned with mouth open towards a stimulus on the cheek or at the corner of the mouth. Triggered by the nipple to prompt breast feeding. Inhibited 3-4 months.
  • Sucking reflex. Forceful rhythmic sucking on an item placed in the mouth with coordinated swallowing. Inhibited 3-4 months.
  • Babinski or plantar reflex. Dorsiflexion of toes on stimulation of sole of foot from heel to toes. Inhibited 6-9 months.
  • Blink reflex. Stimulated by bright light in eyes. Not inhibited.
  • Pupillary reflex. Pupillary constriction with light stimulus. Not inhibited.
  • Galant reflex. Neonate held or lying prone. Trunk curves towards the stimulated side when stroked along one side of spinal column from head to buttocks. Inhibited 1-3 months.
  • Stepping reflex. Held upright, the neonate makes stepping movements when a foot touches a flat surfaces or an edge. Disappears by 2-3 months but returns as a voluntary movement at 10-15 months as the child begins to walk.
  • Downward Parachute: protective response, develops at 4-6 months.
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