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NAN: Infant Reflexes

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A reflex is a muscle action that occurs in response to stimulation. These muscle actions are instinctive and involuntary movements. Certain types of stimulations trigger certain types of reflexes.

The rooting reflex is a survival reflex that presents itself when an infant turns his head and opens mouth looking for food in response to his cheek or the area around his mouth being lightly stroked. This reflex typically disappears around four months of age.

The swallowing reflex is another survival reflex. The swallowing reflex enables an infant to suck and swallow milk from a breast or bottle. 

The Moro reflex presents itself when an infant flings his arms out and arches back in response to being startled. This reflex typically disappears around two months of age.

The Babinski reflex presents itself when a baby spreads out his toes in response to the sole of his foot being firmly stroked. This reflex disappears as children get older and may start disappearing as early as 12 months of age; however its presence is normal up until age two.

The stepping reflex presents when an infant lifts his feet like he’s taking steps in response to being held in a standing position so the sole of his feet touch a firm surface. This reflex typically disappears around two months of age.

Reflexes can be used to help determine the gestational age and neurological health of an infant. Some reflexes, like the rooting reflex, are survival reflexes and others like the griping and grasping reflexes will later develop into voluntary movements.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Infant Reflexes