Newborn reflexes

Newborn reflexes: unconditional, conditional, congenital

Newborn reflexes

In the first 28 days, the baby's body is going through a difficult period of adaptation. For the baby after birth, a new stage of extrauterine life begins, in which reflexes play an important role.

A little baby at birth has developed unconditional reflexes, laid down by nature by default. Over time, some of them disappear and some of them become conditional. The new reflexes can be compared to the baby's “individual experience”, as their appearance is closely related to the child's development processes and brain functioning.

Medicine suggests that newborns have 15 unconditional reflexes, each of which has an important clinical significance and its own “purpose”.

Some are necessary for a child to successfully go through a complex birth process, so after a certain amount of time they are no longer needed.

Others help develop new abilities, while others accompany the child throughout life.

Unconditional (congenital) reflexes

Medicine identifies several types of unconditional reflexes. Doctors classify them as follows:

  • In order to ensure normal life – oral reflexes, including respiratory, sucking, swallowing, spinal;
  • Protecting the child from environmental influences – the child's reactions to bright light, cold, fever and other types of stimuli
  • Timporal action – helping to hold your breath in time to pass through the birth canal.

Some of the unconditional reflexes are observed only in the first 2-3 months of a baby's life, after which they disappear without a trace. Others are preserved and provide for the child's entire life.

Oral Reflexes

Suction reflex gives the newborn the ability to feed herself. It occurs immediately after birth and lasts up to 12 months.

As soon as the nipple or nipple of the bottle enters the baby's mouth, it starts to suck actively and rhythmically. Physiologically, the process looks like feeding.

The swallowing reflex helps the newborn baby to swallow the food he or she eats, and it lasts a child's life.

The sporadic effect of the oral reflex is the trochanteric effect. If you can easily touch the baby's lips, you can watch them stretch into the tube, like a small elephant's trunk. Movement is ensured by the involuntary contraction of the circular mouth muscle. Such a reflex disappears without a trace by 2-3 months.

Mixed species reflex is considered to be palm-oral, it is also known as Babkin's reflex. If you press your fingers on the palm surface at the same time, the baby will open his or her mouth slightly. Over the course of 3 months, the unconditional reflex fades away and disappears completely.

Search or Kussmall's effect is to find food for the baby. When a child touches a corner of his or her mouth, the child immediately turns the head towards the stimulus. A reflex of 3 or 4 months is observed and then disappears. The child gets the ability to find food visually and actively reacts when he or she sees the mother's breast or feeding bottle.

After birth and at each successive examination, the paediatrician checks the performance of spinal reflexes. They are a list of reactions by which to judge the state of the apparatus muscles.

One of the most important is the upper protective reflex, which occurs from the first hours of life of the baby. If the child is placed on his or her stomach, his or her head immediately turns to one side and tries to lift it up.

This is how the baby's body tries to prevent the risk of respiratory failure and restore oxygen access. A child's reflex disappears at the age of 1.5 months.

Grabbing reflexes

Purely with young children there is a situation when a newborn child has a strong grip on an object when approaching the palm of his hand. The baby can hold the “prey” so firmly that it can even be raised.

This reaction is called Janishevsky's and Robbinson's reflexes, and it lasts for 3-4 months, after which it begins to weaken.

The persistence of such a praiseworthy reflex in a baby in adulthood often signals a neurological problem.

Babinsky's reflex reaction is observed in the child's soleplate when lightly stroking the edge of the soleplate. It is manifested in the form of opening toes in the form of a fan with the parallel bending of the feet. Assess the severity of the response to external influences in terms of movement energy and symmetry. This kind of reflex is a “long-lived” one and it's still in children for 2 more years.

Motor reflexes

One of the child's types of grabbing reactions is the Moro reflex. He is characterized by a two-stage reaction of the child to the produced knock.

First, in response to the sharp sound the baby moves the arm in different directions, makes the push-ups of the toes and straightens the legs. Then there is a return to the original original pose.

In some cases, the child can hug himself, so it is often referred to as a hug reflex. It is most pronounced up to 5 months.

Kerning reflex consists in the impossibility of unclenching the hip and knee joint after their bending. With a child's normal development, you can't do that. By four months, the reflex is gone.

One of the funniest reflexes of babies is the “automatic” gait. When the child is raised and the body tilts slightly forward, it is possible to observe how the child starts to take steps.

The evaluation criterion is the completeness of the footrest. If the surfaces only touch the fingertips or the feet are trying to cling, a consultation with a paediatric neurologist is required.

The reflex remains in place for 1.5 months.

The support reflex manifests itself when an infant tries to stand on the feet on a flat surface. The baby's reaction consists of two phases. When it comes into contact with the surface, it bends the knees sharply, and then confidently stands on the feet and the soles are tightly pressed. The reflex remains the same as the “automatic gait”, i.e. 1.5 months.

The reflex of spontaneous crawling or Bauer's reaction can be seen if you put your baby on the tummy and put your hands on the soles of his feet. In such a situation, the child starts to push back from the original support and tries to help himself with his hands, trying to crawl. This is the first time you can see a reflex for 3 days, but after 4 months it disappears.

The reaction of the newborn's spine to the external stimulus is called the Galanta reflex.

When a finger runs along the entire length of the spinal column, you can see that the child begins to bend the back, the legs bend towards the stimulus.

Identify also so-called posotonic reflexes, which are manifested in the redistribution of muscle tone when the posture changes. They are observed in children who have not yet acquired the skills to hold the head, sit and walk on their own.

The reaction of the muscles of the shoulder belt and hand responsible for bending and curling is called the Magnus Klein reflex. To cause this, the baby's head must be turned sideways, and it can be seen that the baby's arm and leg are both moving forward in the direction of the look. The position of the child at this point is reminiscent of the movement of a swordsman. The reflex is maintained for 2 months.

When to sound the alarm: weak reflexes

In life, there are situations in which newborns have reflexes later than the required time or they are weakly expressed. There may be a number of reasons for this:

  • Related injuries;
  • Transected diseases;
  • Individual intolerance and reactions to previously prescribed medication.

In a significant proportion of cases, mild reflexes are observed in premature infants and those born with mild asphyxiation. The explanation of weak reflexes in newborns related to food search and intake is usually on the surface – the child is not hungry. The sucking and swallowing reflexes are active before feeding the baby.

Dangerous is the absence of reflexes in the baby, which can be associated with intrauterine malformations, severe birth injuries and deep asphyxiation.

In this case, immediate resuscitation is necessary, which should be carried out by specialists.

At the same time, it should not be forgotten that the child's body has a unique reserve, which allows the baby to recover even in the most difficult situations and to grow healthy in the future.

What are the main unconditional reflexes that infants (video)


Designation of reflexes in the development of newborn children

Newborn reflexes

When a newborn baby is placed on the stomach, it turns its head reflexively. This protective physiological reaction is expressed in humans from the first hours of life. Children with CNS disorders are unable to do so and risk suffocation.

Kids have conditional and unconditional reflexes. The first ones are acquired over time, the second ones are inherited from the ancestors. Newborn reflexes – congenital (unconditional) exist for 3-5 years and gradually go out.

They are replaced by conditional ones.

Major reflexes in the breast

Nature has made it possible for a person who has just been born to be deprived of the ability to survive in an aggressive environment, and has provided him with the ability to adapt and not to die.

Reflexes consider the physiological response of the body to various stimuli. If a child was born with severe pathologies, his or her reflexes are either inhibited or absent.

The main reflexes of newborns are divided into conditional (acquired) and unconditional (pathological).

Unconditional reflexes – what does it mean?

Materialized from birth, hereditary, unconditional reflexes are also passed on to future descendants. The nervous system reacts automatically and simply to various stimuli:

  • food – swallowing, saliva extraction, sucking;
  • defensive (protective) – blinking, sneezing, lacrimation, coughing, twitching of the arm or leg from hot or cold objects;
  • orientation – rotation of the torso and head, eye shadowing.

Unqualified reflexes of newborns, if possible, ensure safety by maintaining and regulating the invariability of the body's internal environment.

Conditional reflexes – what does it mean?

Man's abilities acquired during the existence, based on congenital reflexes, are called conditional. They were thoroughly studied by Academician Pavlov I.P.

Institudes are awakened by the influence of irritants (light, sound, time), to which the body was previously indifferent.

Each human being in his life acquires a lot of conditional reflexes that have a special meaning and make up the base of his knowledge and experience. But children's habits and reflexes are not transmitted.

For example, Mommy arranged time feeding every 3 hours. Within a week, the baby develops a reflexive sense of hunger, and the baby begins to capriciously feed at a set time.

Newborn Reflexes List

Vital important newborn reflexes are provided for all cases: some help to develop and form new, complicated ones, others remain forever, some help to survive the moment of appearance and die out immediately after birth.

Professionals divide innate baby reflexes by:


  1. Suctionary is the most important ability that appears in the first hours of life. It's only a year and a half to go. The newborn baby wraps his finger, nipple, nipple and sucks on his lips rhythmically. It is very well developed and has a calming effect on the baby's breast.

  2. Swallow – is evident after birth and remains forever.
  3. The trunk is a kind of oral reflex that allows you to stick out a lip that resembles a tube or trunk of an elephant. That's how the muscles around the mouth contract spontaneously. Lost to 3 months

  4. Palm- mouth (or Babkin) – when a newborn baby is pressed with fingers on both hands, his mouth is opened. This reflex promotes crumbs' nutrition and is pronounced when it is hungry. Missing by 3 months.

    If the reflex is missing or weakened, it is likely that the cervical region was injured in childbirth.

  5. Search (or Kussmaul) – when an infant's mouth is touched by a finger, nipple or other object, he begins to turn to the irritant – so he looks for food. It's dying by 3-4 months. Later on, the food is searched visually.


Doctor watches and records the reactions responsible for the functioning of the muscular system.

  1. Protective – the main reflex formed after birth. The child is placed on the stomach and instinctively turns the head to breathe. Dying by 1.5 months
  2. Mouth – a vital protective reflex. Eating milk can choke the baby. When it works, the language of the newborn baby comes out and food comes out.


  1. Robinson and Janiszwski appear when you grab hold of your doctor's or mother's fingers and try to hold on as long as possible. The baby can even be lifted up in these moments. Appears when he is hungry, then the cams are involuntarily squeezed.

    When a child suffers from a paresis of hands, the reflex will be weakened or absent. Brain-stricken children show a weakened reaction, excitable – enhanced. It dies out at 3-4 months, and if it stays after 5 months.., A child is suspected of having neurological disorders.

  2. Sole (or Babinsky's) – when the child is gently stroked on the outside of the sole – his toes open fanfold and his feet bend. The main feature by which the state, symmetry and dynamism of movements is estimated.

    Dies out by two years.


  1. Kernig Reflex – when the knee and hip joint are opened, they contract again. Completely disappears after 4 months
  2. Scare Reflex (Moro) – when the baby reacts to sharp, loud sounds. First, he spreads the handles apart, opening his fists, and then holds them to his chest, hugging himself.

  3. Machine Walking – when the newborn tries to walk if he holds his armpits vertically. Such a “gait” is evaluated by the degree of support and completeness of the step on the foot. The emphasis on the fingers and the clinging of the feet to each other is a sign of violation.
  4. Pillar reflex.

    When a baby is held by the armpits above the table surface, it bends its knees and then becomes firmly pressed against the support and “stands” with the legs straightened for 10 seconds. Stores 1.5 months

  5. Bauer's Reflex (or spontaneous crawling).

    When a baby is turned over on his stomach and his palm is placed under his feet, he starts to repel and crawl, trying to help himself with his hands (when a baby tries to crawl). If you put it on its side, there's no movement. It is expressed for 3-4 days and dies out at 3-4 months

    Children born with asphyxiation, having brain injuries or intracranial hemorrhages do not possess such a reflex. And if he doesn't disappear before six months.., there's probably a CNS disease.

  6. Reflex Galanta. When the finger is held around 1.5 cm. from the baby's ridge, the baby's back is curved and the leg on the irritation side is curved.

  7. Peresa Reflex is an unpleasant check for the baby. From the coccyx to the neck area of the spine is guided by a finger, slightly pressed. The child bends his torso, bends his legs and arms, starts screaming and crying. The paramedics are trying to arrange this checkup at the end of the exam. Physiological reflex up to 4 months


  • Magnus-Klein – when the child's head is turned to the side, the hands and shoulders occupy a certain position similar to that of a swordsman. Its handle and leg are straightened where the face is located, and those on the other side, on the contrary, bend. There is a reflex response of up to 2 months

Nature has laid down more inborn reflexes, still unexplored by medicine. But knowing the basics, parents can determine them for themselves by stimulating and training their child's instincts.

Active contact with the child's parents will enhance the child's physiological abilities, motor activity, and ability to better adjust to the world.

Check make it easy to touch, trying not to cause pain or discomfort.

Table of start and end of reflexes

Scientists note that there is a correlation between brain development and end of primary reflexes. Predictable reactions are replaced with more sophisticated and complex ones over time.

The presence or absence of simple reflexive abilities is an indicator of the formation and development of the child's nervous system. All children are different and do not always fit into the statistics, going beyond the “plus” or “minus”.

If the differences are significant, these children require close attention and special care.

To the year healthy babies develop in approximately the same way, lagging behind or ahead of each other in a small amount of time.

Reflex name Time of appearanceFading TimePathology
Search from birth4 months., up to 12 months in sleep absence of reflex in sleep
Suction from birth3-5 months up to 7 months. in a dreamUnborn children with CNS oppression
Magnus-Klein from birth to 2 months6 months. upper motor neurons defeat if the reflex remains after 6 months
Machine walking from birth3-4 months. absence of cerebral palsy, cerebral palsy
Grabbing from birth 4-6 months, then a simple capture of objectsCNS pathology
Scare Reflex (Moro) from birth no later than 4 months. when it does not disappear after 6 months, possibly CNS disorder, paralysis or clavicle fracture
Sole from birth8 months.DPC, CNS pathology

Cause of weak reflex development

Sometimes a baby's reflexes work late, slow, poorly expressed, or, conversely, strongly manifested. This can be caused by both severe birth injuries, drug reactions, and illness.

Weak spinal, grabbing, and oral reflexes occur in premature infants born with little asphyxiation. If a newborn baby has a mild sucking and swallowing reaction, it is a signal that it is not hungry.

Before feeding, reflexes are clearer.

When a baby does not express reflexes completely, it is a serious problem that requires the intervention of skilled doctors and intensive care procedures.

The causes of inhibition can be severe birth traumas, such as umbilical cord strangulation, intrauterine pathology, and nervous system disorders.

Increased reflex response is caused by infectious diseases, muscle tone pathologies, nervous excitability.

Physician, evaluating the child's reflexes, pays attention not only to their presence and reaction. Severe illnesses and pathologies can be talked about when they are accompanied by other dangerous symptoms.


Step reflex in a newborn

Newborn reflexes

The newborn child does not have the personal experience and skills to rely on in choosing food or finding a safe environment. But nature has given it unconditional reflexes that help it survive the process of birth and postnatal adaptation.

Many of them will die out, and some of them will remain for life. A healthy baby has absolute reflexes and is clearly visible, so that parents can see for themselves how they work. What are the unconditional reflexes of newborns and how can we find them?

Suction reflex

This is an absolute newborn reflex for breastfeeding, but it works not only with breast-feeding.

If you insert a finger or nipple into the baby's mouth at 3-4 cm, he will start making rhythmic sucking movements.

This is one of the most important reflexes that can only be absent in facial nerve paresis, severe somatic conditions, and deep mental retardation.

Some paediatricians believe that the sucking reflex dies out by the year, while others believe that it lasts up to 3-4 years, so the need for sucking and breastfeeding remains until preschool age.

American anthropologist Catherine A.

Dettweiler noted that the natural timing of breast-feeding is much longer – this absolute reflex of the newborn can last even up to 7 years if the mother continues to feed.

Search reflex

Search or Kussmaul reflex is another condition for successful breastfeeding.

If you stroke the corners of the baby's lips, he will lower the lip, turn the tongue and turn the head toward the stimulus. If you press the middle of the upper lip, its mouth will open and the head will bend. Press down on the middle of the lower lip – the head will bend and fall the lower jaw.

A hungry baby's reflex is particularly clear and symmetrically manifested, it is most pronounced at the age of 3-5 months.

Threaded reflex

If you pat your baby's lips easily with your finger, he'll stick them out with a “trunk”.

This is how the mouth's circular muscle, the key sucking muscle, works. According to experts, this unconditional reflex is relevant in the first 2-3 months of life, and then dies out, but can also occur before the age of three.

Ladon-oral reflex

This phenomenon is also called Babkin's reflex, and it consists in the fact that if you put pressure on the baby's palm with fingertips, his head moves forward, towards the one who checks the reflex, and the mouth opens.

As with search, this unconditional newborn reflex is particularly pronounced before feeding and lasts up to two months. Its asymmetry or erased picture are observed only at defeat of CNS or hand pararesis.

Grabbing reflex

Place your index fingers in your baby's palm – he will clench the handles in the cams so tightly that clinginging can even hang.

This reaction is observed in the first week of life and gradually disappears by 3-4 months. It's also called the Janiszewski and Robinson reflex.

Solar reflex

Also known as the Babinsky reflex. If you stroke the edges of a baby's foot from the outside, his or her toes open with a fan and the soles bend at the back.

With a healthy child these movements are energetic and symmetrical, the reflex is observed up to two years old.

Automatic Walking and Support Reflex

If you support your child in an upright position, he or she will straighten the legs and “stand” while tilting forward, he or she will begin to step on the legs. A lot of kids cross their feet, which is also a normal variant. Reflector walking can be preserved according to different data from 2 to 12 months.

Crawling reflex

If you put your baby on the abdomen and touch the soles of his feet with your hands, the baby will push them off like a support and crawl forward.

This action activates all brain areas and develops movement coordination. Therefore, pediatricians recommend stimulating the unconditional reflex of the newborn every day during a massage or exercise.

Reflex Galanta

For 5-6 days after birth, you can see this picture: if you put your baby on the stomach and slide your finger down along his spine, stepping 1 cm from the center of the backrest to the left, the child bends the backrest to the right.

And vice versa, swivel your finger to the right – the baby turns left. Thus it is possible to train the coordination of movements, to strengthen the connection between brain hemispheres.

But by 3-4 months the reaction usually goes away.

Protective Reflex

Many mothers are afraid to put their babies on their stomachs, but it's worth it at least once to test the protective reflex, so you'll find that your baby's ability to do so is another. Place your child on the stomach and he'll turn his head to the side.

This way he'll be able to breathe even if he's in a tie position. The reflex is valid from the first hours of life and disappears by about 1.5 months.

Peresa Reflex

This body reaction shows spinal cord function, appears in the first week of life and dies out by 3-4 months.

Lay your baby on the stomach, slide your finger over the back from the coccyx to the neck with little pressure. The baby will raise his head and pelvis, bend his back and bend his knees

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