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Your Child’s Development: Newborn

Bringing home a new baby is a joyous occasion, but it can also feel overwhelming. Parents spend a lot of time feeling anxious about their new little one. Babies change so rapidly, it can feel impossible to meet all their needs to keep them happy and healthy. The good news is that every parent is equipped with the right skills to successfully parent their children; the love and affection you shower on your baby goes a long way in supporting their development.

Hopefully knowing that alleviates some of the anxiety you might feel! Another way to alleviate some of the anxiety is to familiarize yourself with various milestones and stages of their development. Knowing these milestones and stages will help as you better understand their development, which will boost your confidence as a parent.

The 6 Newborn Reflexes

When babies are born, there are several automatic responses they exhibit to a variety of stimuli. These responses are involuntary and are referred to as “reflexes.” Here are the 6 newborn reflexes:

  1. Rooting reflex – This reflex is in reference to when babies begin to search to feed when the corners of their mouths, or their cheeks, are stroked. They will turn towards the stroke and begin to open their mouths.
  2. Suck reflex – Babies will begin to suck when the roof of their mouth is brushed. By 4 months this reflex becomes a voluntary action.
  3. Tonic neck reflex – This is sometimes referred to as a “fencing” posture. When a baby’s head is turned to one side, their corresponding arm will straighten and then the opposite arm will bend. Between the months of 5 and 7 this reflex, typically, disappears.
  4. Moro reflex – This is also called the “startle” reflex. And, as you would guess, happens when a newborn baby is startled. They will extend their arms, legs, and neck and then rapidly bring them in. They may do this reflex if there’s any sudden stimulation that happens.
  5. Grasp reflex – This reflex is definitely the sweetest of them all. It is when a baby closes their fist around your finger if you place it in their palm. They will also do it if you rub their palm.
  6. Stepping reflex – The stepping reflex is also called the “dance” or “walking” reflexes. If you hold a baby’s body up and let their feet touch the ground, they will simulate taking steps as if they are trying to walk. This usually disappears after 2 months.

These reflexes develop when your baby is in utero. If your child is born prematurely, they may not show signs of certain reflexes. As mentioned, the reflexes are involuntary and will begin to fade over time.

The newborn stage is a precious time for parents. Understanding your newborn’s development will help you feel confident as they grow. During this time, rely on the help and guidance of your baby’s pediatrician to help monitor their development. Reach out to family to help in the moments where you need rest, and allow yourself to enjoy this beautiful time with your new little one!