Reflex Check

Duration: any

Age: baby, parent

Skill for Bub: Muscle builder, Just for fun


Your baby is born with certain reflexes at birth. Here’s a revealing activity that helps you discover what these reflexes are and how you can see them at work.

After you delivered your baby, you probably noticed the pediatrician testing your newborn for certain reflexes, which show that the nervous system is working properly. Here are the reflexes and how you can see them at work in your baby:

Rooting Reflex: When the baby’s cheek or corner of the mouth is stroked, he will instinctively turn his mouth toward the source and try to suckle. This reflex helps him find his food source: the nipple.

Sucking Reflex: When something touches the roof of a baby’s mouth, he will suck. This reflex helps Baby instinctively get the nourishment he needs.

Moro Reflex (also called “Startle Reflex”): When startled (by a loud noise or sudden movement – sometimes by his own movement) the baby throws back his arms and head, then pulls his limbs close to his body to protect himself.

Tonic Neck Reflex (also called “Fencing Reflex”): When the baby’s head is turned to one side while lying on his back, the baby’s arm on that side reaches out while the arm on the opposite side bends at the elbow with a clenched fist. It resembles a fencer’s position and is an important sign of neurological development.

Grasp Reflex: When you stroke the palm of a baby’s hand, he closes his hand into a tight fist, tightly grasping the object that touched the palm. The newborn grasp can be very strong, and you can test this by attempting to pull your finger from Baby’s tight grip.

Stepping Reflex: When held in a standing position on a flat surface, a newborn will make stepping movements, bending the leg at the knee with the feet parallel with the hard surface. This reflex may be in place to help babies later learn to walk.