• Awww! Why and When Your Newborn Holds On to Your Finger

    This and 6 other milestones will make the heart of any new parent burst with love.
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .
  • Awww! Why and When Your Newborn Holds On to Your Finger
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  • Have you noticed how your newborn knows how to curl her little fingers around yours? Nothing beats that "sikip ng dibdib" feeling when it happens the first time. Instinctively knowing how to grasp something in her hand or shut her eyes from bright light are part of your baby’s newborn reflexes. These are automatic responses that are part of normal brain development and can disappear in a few weeks or months. They can be quite fascinating, and you’ll be able to see them as you care and interact with your baby more. 

    1. Root reflex 

    Try gently stroking your baby’s cheek. She’ll turn her head to where your hand is. That's rooting, which helps her find the nipple at feeding time. At first, she’ll repeatedly turn her head, then turn away before she can suck. At around three weeks old, she’ll simply turn her head and open her mouth. 

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    2. Suck reflex
    After the root reflex, your baby will then suck to feed. She does this when a nipple (or her hand or your finger) touches the roof of her mouth. “This motion actually takes place in two stages: First she places her lips around the areola and squeezes the nipple between her tongue and palate. Then comes the second phase, or the milking action, in which the tongue moves from the areola to the nipple,” explained the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org

    Don’t worry if your baby seems to be “bad” at sucking. It can be complicated for newborns to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time. Over time, your little one will be feeding like a pro. 

    3. Grasp reflex

    If you press a finger or other object, like a rattle, into your baby’s palm, she will automatically close her fists in a grasp. This reflex may help prepare your baby for voluntary grasping later on, according to What to Expect, and it lasts until she’s around 5 to 6 months old. It’s such a strong grip that it may even seem like you can lift your baby with her just holding on to your finger (it goes without saying that no one should attempt this no matter how cute you see it in your head).  

    4. Babinski reflex

    Stroking the sole of your baby’s foot, from the heel to the toe, will make her fan out her toes and bend her big toe backward. We’re not sure why they do this, but it can be your baby’s attempt to protect herself against falling. It’s a reflex that can last until your baby is 2 years old. 

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    5. Moro (or startle) reflex
    When your baby hears a loud sound, she will abruptly throw back her head, extend her arms and legs, cry loudly, and pull her arms and legs back towards her. It is also her response to sudden movement or to the sensation of falling, like when you put her down in her crib without enough support. Your baby’s crying can even trigger this as well. This reflex is your little one’s attempt at trying to protect herself from harm. At 6 weeks old, she’ll start to feel more secure, and you’ll see the reflex less often. It will disappear at around 5 to 6 months of age.

    6. Step reflex
    Your baby can’t walk yet, but if you hold her upright (under her arms while supporting her head) and let her feet touch a solid surface like a table, you’ll still see her trying to! She’ll appear to put a foot in front of the other as if trying to walk or even dance. This reflex will disappear after two months and reappear as voluntary behavior at around a year old when she’s really ready to take her first steps. 

    7. Tongue-thrust reflex

    Up to around 6 months old, milk is the only food for infants. Your baby knows this too. So whenever anything unusual is placed in her mouth or on her tongue, she will instinctively push it back out. This reflex prevents your little one from choking. Between 4 to 6 months old, it disappears to make way for your baby’s journey into solid foods. 

    Sources: Healthychildren.org, Stanford Children's Health, What to Expect, AskDrSears.com, Parenting

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