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5 Infant Reflexes and Why They're Important

Infant Reflexes, also called Primitive Reflexes only last a few months following birth some are ones needed for survival like rooting and suckling. These basic movements we recognize as baby seeks nutrition. Other Primitive Reflexes, are still involuntary movements we are born with but that serve specific purposes in the development of voluntary movements. Here are five of those reflexes you can observe in your infant to know what purpose they serve for future life skills.

The Palmar Grasp


This is one we’re all familiar with. It’s the way an infant will grasp a finger. The Palmer grasp starts in utero and lasts until four months of age. The grasp prepares your infant for voluntarily reaching and grasping of things like, food, toys or your hair.  

The Stepping Reflex

This reflex is also called the walking or dance reflex because a baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his or her feet touching a solid surface. If you stimulate this reflex for the baby’s ‘practice’ it can result in baby walking earlier. First you’ll see a decline in the reflex. The reflex must first disappear before the walking skill begins.

The Moro Reflex

This reflex precedes the startle reflex and looks similar. The baby throws open his arms immediately at a loud sound or an uncertain change in position. This is baby’s attempt to regain stability and will disappear at 4-6 months of age and then the startle reflex will emerge.

The Labyrinthine Reflex

This reflex helps baby establish his upright posture. This reflex happens when baby’s head tilts in the opposite direction of the body tilt. It helps him work on his balance and his upright posture. This reflex endures most of the baby’s first year.

The Pull-up and Parachuting Reflexes

The pull-up and Parachuting Reflexes are different but they serve a similar purpose. Both happen in the baby’s conscious attempt to brace himself for a potential fall. This skill starts out with this involuntary reflex and evolves into the skill of protecting oneself from injury.

You can activate the Parachuting Reflex when setting the baby down for tummy time. You’ll see the infant put his hands and feet out in front of him to prepare for contact with the floor. During the Pull-Up Reflex, when the baby has hold of your fingers and you start to lean him backwards you’ll notice his arms flex in attempts to keep himself positioned upright.  


Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of two and expecting her third. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at for more great info on Raising Kids. 

1 comment


Oh.My.Goodness! LOVED the maternity sesoisn but this newbie is a new fav! I love the textured one and the little feather headband one too. Great job as usual!:)

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