Congenital reflexes (infant reflexes) – is a specific baby’s response to a specific external irritant. Infant Reflexes research is mainly used to assess the condition of the nervous system.
Normally, all the reflexes have their time of appearance and disappearance. Some reflexes are observed almost from birth and are attenuated with time, while others, vice versa, appear only when the child grows up. (The time of appearance and disappearance of reflexes in norm see below)
A healthy baby should have symmetrical reflexes; which means that the observed response should be the same on the right side and on the left. We say about reflexes’ asymmetry when normal reflexes are caused on the one side and absent on the other.
For example, during the study of the grasping reflex ( the method that conducts this reflex see below), the child captures well your fingers with one hand and doesn’t do it with the other. This situation requires an obligatory pediatrician’s consultation.
Strengthening and Weakening of Reflexes
The sharp oppression or absence of reflexes may be associated with an infringement of muscle tone (its sharp decrease or increase), the pathology of the nervous system (its immaturity, etc.), infectious and inflammatory diseases, and others.
A moderate enhancement of the basic congenital reflexes is observed in case of increased neuromuscular excitability
Assessing the results of the reflexes study, it’s necessary to take into account that they have a diagnostic value only in conjunction with other symptoms. The changing of any reflex in the absence of other neurological disorders is not pathology.
If something disturbs you in a child’s behavior in the reflexes research, it is better to address this question with the doctor. Only a specialist – a neurologist can properly assess the condition of the nervous system.
If the baby is healthy, evoking some reflexes is very useful for him; it will serve as a kind of gymnastics. For example, such reflections as crawling reflex, the reflex of reliance, and others. The use of physiological reflex processes stimulates the development of spontaneous and then purposeful movements.
In short, the induction of congenital reflexes can serve as entertainment for the whole family and be a developing charge for the child. Reflexes’ research should be conducted in a warm, well-lit room. The baby should be awakened, relatively quiet, and not hungry. Your movements shouldn’t cause the child pain.
Congenital Infant Reflexes Research
Methods of performing some of the most famous reflections are described below.
During light taps by the finger on the baby’s lips, a reduction of the circular muscles of the mouth happens, causing the lips to stretch into the proboscis.
Search Reflex (Or Rooting Reflex)
When stroking the skin in the corner of the mouth (don’t touch the lips) lower lip lowers, tongue deviation and turn of the head toward the stimulus take place (search of the mother’s breast). Reflex is especially pronounced before feeding.
It reduces in 6-7 weeks and disappears by the end of the first year.
If you put in the baby’s mouth a pacifier, he starts to make active sucking movements.
Babkin Hand-Mouth Reflex
The reflex is caused by pressing a finger on the child’s palm in the thumb’s hill. The response is shown with an opening mouth and a bending head. Reflex is checked on the right and on the left hands.
Disappears by 3-4 months, if the child older than 5 months still has this reflex, it requires further explanation.
It is expressed in grasping and rugged holding of fingers, nested in the child’s palm. Sometimes it’s possible to raise the child above the anvil. The reflex same can be caused on lower limbs if pressed to the sole at the base of the II-III fingers – it will lead to flexion of fingers. Reflex gradually weakens by 3-4 months.
This reflex is caused by different methods. Here is one of them (in our view the most humane =)). Hit sharply the table on which a child laid, at a distance of 15-20 cm from the head on both sides. In response to this action, the baby firstly removes the hands and unbends the fingers, and then returns the hands to their original position. The movement of the hands has the nature of grasping. It is recommended only for diagnostic purposes, in order not to frighten a baby once again. Reflex weakens by 4 months.
If you touch the outer sole’s edge by the finger’s tip in the direction from the heel to the toes, the latter would fan out. Physiological Babinski reflex is accompanied by bending the legs at the hip, knee, and ankle joints.
This exercise is useful before a bath or during a game. Please hold your finger on the child’s foot so that he straightened his fingers. Then make a slight pressure on the sole at the foundation of the II-III fingers, it will lead to bending of fingers.
Reflex of Support
The researcher takes the child’s armpits, supporting the head with the forefinger. The basic weight of the child falls on your hands. The child raised in this position bends the legs in all joints. Lowered to the support, he rests on his full foot, and “stands” on bent legs, straightening the body.
The reflex of Automatic Walk
This reflex is a continuation of the reflex of support. The child is tilted a bit forward, while he makes stepper movements on the surface, without accompanying them with hand movements. Sometimes, during this process, the legs are crossed at the level of the lower third of the shins.
Let us remind that in this case, it is necessary to hold the baby’s head, and the basic weight must fall on your hands.
Bauer Reflex of Crawling
The baby is laid out on the abdomen. In this position, a child raises his head and makes crawling movements for a few seconds (spontaneous crawling). If we substitute a palm under the child’s soles, these movements will perk, hands will be included in the “crawling” and the baby will begin to push off actively with legs from the support. Reflex is saved up for 4 months.
However, the first quick evaluation of the condition of an infant is Apgar Method
Grasping reflex, Babinski reflex, and crawling reflex can be used for everyday activities with the baby (the baby has to be older than one month). I would like to add that such studies should be a source of a baby’s positive emotions. If the baby feels uncomfortable during any exercise or infant reflexes reveal, it’s better to postpone its implementation for some time.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.