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Caring For Your
Newborn Baby

What Your Newborn Will Look Like

Reflexes and other newborn behaviours

In the first few weeks of life your new baby will lay with his elbows bent, hands in tight fists, and legs drawn close to his body with his knees bent. This is normal - it was his position while he was in your womb.

You'll also notice that your baby has reflexes, automatic movements or actions he does at certain times, like sucking when something touches the roof of his mouth, or gripping your finger with his hand.

We're all born with reflexes.

Some reflexes, like sneezing or blinking, we do all of our lives. Others only happen in babies and stop when a baby starts to gain control over his muscles.

Newborn babies have many reflexes. Each reflex is an important way for healthcare professionals to know that your baby's brain and body are developing normally.

Common reflexes in newborns

The most common reflexes in newborns are:

  • Moro (Startle)
  • Rooting
  • Sucking
  • Grasping
  • Stepping
  • Babinski
Reflex Happens when... Response Reflex disappears...
Moro (Startle) • Your baby is scared by a loud sound or movement.
• Her head moves quickly or her head falls backwards quickly.

Your baby will:

• Extend her neck.
• Spread out her arms and legs quickly.
• Bring her arms and legs back in.

Your baby may also cry.

Between 3-6 months.

•You stroke your baby's cheek or mouth gently with your finger or with the breast at feeding time

Rooting is how your baby gets ready to breastfeed.

Your baby will:

• Turn his head to the direction of stroking on his cheek or mouth.
• Open his mouth.

After 3-4 months.

• The nipple touches the roof of your baby's mouth.
• Baby needs to be calmed and soothed.

Sucking is connected to the rooting reflex and is important for your baby to latch on to the breast.

Your baby will:

• Start to suck when the roof of her mouth is touched.

After approximately 3 months.
Grasping • You stroke the palm of your baby's hand with your finger.

Your baby will:

• Wrap his fingers around your finger.

Around 3 months.
Stepping • You hold your baby up over a flat surface (such as the floor).

Your baby will:

• Move his legs and look like he's walking when you hold him up.

Between 2-3 months.
Babinski • You stroke the bottom of your baby's foot with your finger.

Your baby will:

• Bend his big toe backwards and spread his other toes.

Around 2 years.


At the Hospital | Preparing For Baby | The First Few Days | What Your Newborn Will Look Like
Taking Care of Your Newborn | Taking Care of You and Your Partner

Revised: Thursday February 21 2019

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