9 Amazing Newborn Reflexes

Newborn babies are pretty amazing, yours in particular, right? It can be pretty hard to believe that the baby in front of you was snuggled up happily in your belly just a few short weeks ago. You’ve probably already lost hours just staring in wonder at your baby’s perfect little fingernails, eyelashes and lips.

Your baby was born with the ability to recognise your scent, latch onto your breast for feeds and communicate her needs. Newborns are undeniably talented, so it’s no wonder you feel totally overwhelmed with love and amazement for the little lady in your arms.

Babies are born with a set of survival skills to ensure the world is a little bit safer for her during those first few months of life. Though she is completely and utterly dependent on you, these nine newborn reflexes exist to keep her safe and sound. These newborn reflexes will disappear in just a few short months, but you may notice them in these early days of parenthood.

  1. The rooting reflex

This important reflex enables your baby to find food. If you stroke your baby’s cheek, you’ll notice she opens her mouth wide and begins moving her head from side to side to search for a breast. You can utilize this reflex to teach your baby how to latch on during feeds.

  1. The sucking reflex

Your baby is hardwired to feed because that’s how she’ll grow and develop. When something touches the roof of her mouth, your baby will instinctively start to suck.

  1. The startling reflex

This one may make your baby seem a little on edge, but it’s a totally natural reflex. If your baby is startled by a loud noise or movement, she will instinctively throw back her head and extend her limbs making her look a little startled. She may even be startled by the sound of her own cry (join the club, baby).

  1. The tonic neck reflex

This one should probably be known as the superhero reflex. When your baby’s head is turned to one side, she will instinctively raise that arm above her head and bend the opposite arm at the elbow. This will almost certainly make her look like Superbaby about to take flight to rid the world of evil villains.

  1. The stepping reflex

When the soles of your baby’s feet touch a hard surface, she will instinctively make a stepping-like action with her feet.

  1. The grasp reflex

If you place your finger in your baby’s open palm, she will instinctively grab your finger. You might be impressed at just how strong her grip is, good luck getting your finger back! Not that you’ll want it back, you’ll be too busy posting a photo of the heartwarming moment to Instagram.

  1. The Babinski reflex

If you firmly stroke the bottom of your baby’s foot, her toes will splay outwards.

  1. The righting reflex

If you drop a light blanket over your baby’s face, she will instinctively shake her head from side to side and flail her arms until it falls off. This reflex exists to help your baby protect herself.

  1. Tongue-thrust reflex

If a foreign object enters your baby’s mouth, she will automatically push the tip of her tongue out to remove the object. It is thought that this reflex exists to reduce the risk of choking by preventing foreign objects from entering your baby’s mouth.


Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.