When you hold a newborn baby, in so many ways it appears to
be tiny and helpless. It's hard to believe that a baby is in
fact a highly developed being. Perhaps they haven't learnt how
to put everything together yet, but all the building blocks are
there, just waiting to be put to use.
One of the most amazing things about a baby is the amount of
instinctive reflexes a baby has. A health professional will
check these reflexes, because their presence shows that baby's
central nervous system is working properly.
reflexes exist to help nurture your baby, as well as protect
him. Most reflexes last only for the first few weeks, and will
gradually be replaced by voluntary, controlled movements as
baby's development progresses.
you gently touch your baby's cheek with a finger or breast, baby
will instinctively turn that way and open his mouth, ready for
food. After about 12 weeks this reflex disappears, which is
probably just as well! Mind you, sometimes when a toddler is
being fussy about food, mouth closed, arms crossed, it would be
nice to gently tap him on the cheek with the spoon and watch his
Another reflex designed
to help nurture your baby. If you place a clean finger in baby's
mouth, he will start to suck on it. This sucking reflex is
essential for feeding in the early months, although by the time
solids are introduced it has usually disappeared. Sucking can
also help a baby to relax - both my babies used to love sucking
on one of my knuckles when they were a bit cross or tired - they
found it very soothing.
tried this one - put your finger in the palm of baby's hand, and
he will instinctively grasp it. Babies will do this up until
about 3 months old.
When you lay
baby on his stomach, he will bend his legs and poke his bottom
in the air - the crawling position. Baby will continue to do
this for a couple of months, after which he will be able to lie
flat on his stomach.
If you life a
baby upright, and let his feet touch the floor, his legs will
start to make a walking motion. Many babies do this for the
first month or so. Be very careful though - baby's neck muscles
are still very weak, and his head should also be supported in an
upright position. Once this reflex disappears, baby won't be
ready to try walking again until around the 12-month mark.
I'm not sure I'm keen to test this one, but
babies have a diving reflex. If your baby is placed in water,
either at birth or later in a swimming pool, his throat will
automatically close so that he can't swallow any water. So baby
won't drown if born in water, and is in fact a natural swimmer.
Usually this reflex lasts for about 2 months, although it can be
extended if you regularly take baby swimming.
If you stroke the sole of baby's foot, his big toe
will curl up, while his other toes will spread out. I'm not sure
why baby does this, although personally I think it's an early
stage of being ticklish! Babies will do this automatically for
up to two years.
So there you have it - far from being little blobs that have
yet to learn how to do very much, babies are in fact
fascinatingly developed. So I hope this article helps you to
appreciate all the hidden qualities of your baby.
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