9 impressive reflexes all babies have at birth

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newborn reflex

They melt your heart with their smiles and change your world in an instant, but there is much more to newborns than meet the eye.

You may be surprised to learn that newborns are actually born with a series of involuntary movements know as reflexes, which allow them to display complex skills usually reserved for later in life. While these innate skills often need to be relearned later down the road – like walking and swimming – it’s quite incredible to think just how talented your tiny tot really is. Who knew that seemingly helpless newborn is actually a mini superhero in disguise with impressive strength and skills?

Here are the nine reflexes babies are born with

The step reflex

Little did we know that babies can actually walk at birth. With assistance. Known as the walking or stepping reflex, babies appear to take their first steps when held upright with their feet touching a solid surface. This reflex lasts about two months and infants don’t usually master the fine art of walking until the first year mark.

The breast crawl reflex

Give a newborn the right incentive and they will surprise you with their ability to crawl. This is exactly what happens when you leave a newborn on their mother’s chest. The baby will instinctively crawl up the torso and towards the breast. Talk about dedication!

The diving reflex

Babies spend their first nine months in a pool of warm liquid. So it makes sense that they are water babies at heart. Amazingly enough, newborns naturally know to hold their breath when under water, a talent they pick up in utero. This newborn reflex, known at the diving reflex or bradycardic response, disappears at around six months of age.

The swimming reflex

But wait. It gets better! Newborns can also swim. Sort of. They have an instinctive ability to move their arms and legs in a swimming motion if placed stomach-side down in the water. Again, this talent doesn’t last long (about six months) and infants will need to be retaught how to swim.

The rooting reflex

Ever notice that your newborn constantly opens their mouth and turns their head, as if searching for something to suck? This is known as ‘rooting’ and is an important newborn reflex that helps bub connect to the breast or bottle. Bubba’s super senses help guide them towards the goods – the milk.

The suckling reflex

First comes rooting, then comes suckling. The sucking reflex is another cool skill learned in the womb. When the roof of baby’s mouth is touched, they will automatically start sucking.

The Moro reflex

Head back, arms and legs out – this is the position of the Moro reflex, also known as the startle reflex. When bub is startled, they will automatically throw their head back, extend those tiny arms and legs and then pull them back in. This startle reflex can often wake babies from a sleep, which is why many parents choose to keep their little ones snug and secure with a swaddle or sleeping bag.

The Galant reflex

Babies are born to bust a move – just stroke your infant’s spine while they are lying on their stomach. Thanks to the Galant reflex, bub will instinctively twitch the hips in a part tail-flipping part-dancing movement. Very mermaidesque.

The grasp reflex

Want proof of your newborn’s superhuman strength? Just put your finger – or your hair – in their palm. Thanks to the grasp reflex, you will notice bub’s grip is extraordinarily strong. So strong, in fact, that your bub can almost lift themself up if both hands are grasping your fingers.

Part-fish, part-cat, part-ninja and part-dancing queen, your newborn really is a superhero. Who cares if they happen to don size 0000 clothes? And while newborn reflexes will eventually fade, your child’s amazing talents will continue to impress and amaze you in the months and years to come.

Have a look at what’s in store for your little one as they enter toddlerhood. 

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