Infant Reflexes: What They Are and When They Are Normal

There are a number of reflexes that your infant will exhibit. Some children develop reflexes during gestation and they go away shortly baby foot reflexafter birth. Other children may not develop until later in their life and the reflexes may remain forever. Reflexes that do not develop on time or reflexes that do not integrate (go away) at the appropriate age may impact your child’s development. In addition, it can also be a sign of neurological problems, therefore, it is a good idea to know what they are and when they are considered normal. Below is a list of important early infant reflexes and the time-frame in which you can expect to see them.

Early Reflexes:

  • Sucking-swallowing reflex: When a finger is placed in the child’s mouth, the infant will reflexively begin to suck in a rhythmical pattern:
    • Starts: 28 weeks gestation
    • Integrates: 3 months
  • Rooting reflex: Following a tactile cue in the corner of the baby’s mouth, the child will turn his head toward the direction of the input:
    • Starts: 28 weeks gestation
    • Integrates: 3 months
  • Foot grasp: When a finger is placed on the sole of the infant’s foot, the infant will curl his toes:
    • Starts: 28 weeks gestation
    • Integrates: 9-10 months
  • Stepping reflex: With the child is supported in the standing position with both feet on the floor, the child is tilted forward and then demonstrates alternating stepping or marching pattern:
    • Starts: 37 weeks gestation
    • Integrates: 2 months
  • Hand grasp: When someone places a finger in the child’s palm, he will close his fingers around the adult’s finger:
    • Starts: At birth
    • Integrates: 3 months
  • Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex: While the child is lying on his back and has his head passively rotated to one side, his arm on the side that he is looking towards will extend out while the opposite arm will flex up toward the head:
    • Starts: At birth
    • Integrates: 4-6 months

It is important to remember that each child develops in a unique way and that these are just general guidelines of the time-frame in which these reflexes take place; however, if you have concerns about your infant’s development, it is important to contact your pediatrician or physical therapist. In addition, this is, by no means, an exhaustive list of your baby’s first reflexes, rather a brief list of the more commonly seen and important ones. Stay tuned for my next blog discussing the infant reflexes that develop after the ones listed above!

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