Infant Milestones (cont.)
The First Month
During the first month of life most of a baby's behavior is reflexive, meaning that his/her reactions are automatic. Later, as the nervous system develops, a baby will put more thought into his actions. Some of the newborn reflexes are described below.
- Mouthing reflexes: These reflexes are important for baby's survival, helping them find the source of food. The sucking and swallowing reflexes are most important. A baby will automatically begin to suck when their mouth or lips are touched. The rooting reflex is when the baby turns his head toward your hand if their cheek is touched. This helps baby find the nipple for feeding. The rooting reflex begins to fade around 4 months.
- Startle (Moro) reflex: The startle reflex
occurs when a baby hears a loud noise or when he falls backward, his arms and legs extend away from his body. This reflex is most noticeable during the first month and usually fades by 2 or 3 months.
- Grasp reflex: A baby will grasp a finger or object when it is placed in the palm of her hand. This reflex is strongest during the first 2 months and usually fades by 5-6 months.
- Stepping reflex: Even though baby cannot support his own weight, if his feet are placed on a flat surface, he will begin to step one foot in front of the other. The stepping reflex usually disappears by 2 months.
By the end of the first month of life, most babies may display the following:
- Raises head when on stomach
- Keeps hands in tight fists
- Focuses 8-12 inches away, looks at objects and faces, and prefers the human face over other patterns
- Shows a behavioral response when hearing a noise (such as eye blinking, acting startled, change in movements or breathing rate)
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