Babies’ reflexes are something completely normal and instinctive at birth, to the point where the absence of some could even be considered an alarming situation, such as the famous Moorish reflex , one of the many reflexes. common that babies do during their first months of life, which we will see in depth below.
At the time of birth, and during the first months of life, babies often exhibit a series of behaviors or movements that usually seem funny at first glance. These types of movements or reactions are something that babies do almost automatically or involuntarily, they are the well-known baby reflexes .
The moro or startle reflex in the baby
The Moorish reflex is a reflex that all babies have at an early age and that usually disappears during the first few months. This reflex is also known as the startle reflex or hug reflex, and it is characterized by a sudden series of movements made by the baby that make it appear that it has suddenly become frightened or wants a hug; which is why he is known by those names.
What is the Moorish reflex?
The startle reflex usually appears as soon as the baby suddenly feels that he has lost any support and that he may fall. This sensation immediately triggers a series of responses in the baby’s body through the central nervous system .
The baby’s response is to open his eyes abruptly, just like when he receives a scare. At the same time, the baby extends the arms and hands with the palms facing forward and the thumb of both hands flexed, while the back and shoulders are suddenly tense; This reaction is very similar to asking for a hug . It is because of this startle and the graceful response of the arms to it that the Moorish reflex is also called the startle or hug reflex.
Another response that may appear is crying; however, it does not happen in all cases, so crying is not considered a determining factor in the exploration of this reflex.
The reason behind crying is the same as why a startled baby cries ; Each new stimulus that he receives is something that he does not know, and depending on the sensitivity of the child, he may consider it as something bad, unpleasant or outright receive a scare, and crying is a common response to what ” scares ” or displeases us, more even at such a young age. That is why there are cases of children who cry during the startle reflex and others who do not. This is completely subjective and will depend 100% on the child; the absence or presence of this response does not mean that there is a neurological problem in the baby.
From what age does the hug reflex appear?
This reflex usually begins to develop during the last weeks of pregnancy, that is, while the baby is still inside the mother’s womb. That is, it is a reflection that is present from birth .
Although this is usually the norm, there are cases in which the reflex does not develop completely within the belly, and, therefore, does not appear during the first days after birth, but a little later, or perhaps It can also be the strange case that it does not appear.
Due to the unpredictability of this matter, it is estimated that the correct time to start exploring the Moorish reflex in the baby is from 2 weeks , and without reaching a month. In that 2-week period is the perfect time to start exploring this reflex in the baby.
In general, these types of reflexes are examined during the first visits of the pediatrician , since they are usually an excellent way to determine if there is some type of neurological problem in the baby. Although it is not necessary to go to the doctor to try to discover if your baby has this startle or not.
If during the first month, you observe that your child does not present this reflex, it is best that you go immediately to your pediatrician, since as previously said, this can be an alarm that something is not right with the baby, and it is better that any possible neurological problems be ruled out.
How can the Moorish reflex be stimulated in a baby?
If you want to stimulate this reflex in your baby on your own, and thus know if it is present or not, there is a very simple, safe and fast method to do it. You just need to follow the steps shown below, and in this way you can make sure that your baby has the Moorish reflex. Remember that it is better to do it after the first two weeks of life .
- The first thing you will do is lay your baby on his back on a padded surface.
- After that, place a cushion under the baby’s head.
- Little by little, he is lifting the baby without separating his head from the cushion and only by a few centimeters.
- Finally, while holding the baby on the padded surface, slowly lift his head off the cushion, but keep in contact between the baby’s head and the cushion; just take some of your head’s weight off the cushion.
- Let go of your head and let the baby drop slightly, but do not let it touch the padded surface. That is, hold it immediately before it finishes falling.
Once the 5th step is completed, the baby will react immediately and will startle due to the sudden falling motion and the sensation of having lost all support. By doing this little experiment, you can stimulate the Moorish reflex in a baby.
Of course, it should also be noted that this is not the only way to explore the hug reflex of babies. There are also other ways to do it, generally any type of action that generates an abrupt movement in the baby can stimulate this reflex.
The clearest example of this is when the baby is face down and is turned abruptly; in this way , a slight sensation of fall is generated that can cause the reflection . In addition to this method, generally any method in which the baby perceives a sensation of loss of support can stimulate the startle. So it is really not very difficult to appreciate this type of reflection; Of course, if you opt for the previous method, the probabilities are much higher.
How to identify the moro or startle reflex
If you did the small test shown above, you need to be attentive to your baby’s reaction, since to determine precisely if it is the Moorish reflex and not a simple scare, it is necessary that he meets one condition, and this condition is that none of the three body reflexes shown below is missing.
- The baby is startled, as if frightened, the eyes widen.
- Extend your arms with palms facing forward and thumbs closed.
- Tense your back and shoulders and stretch your head while simultaneously gathering your arms and closing your hands.
You may have noticed this by now, but these are three of the “ symptoms ” or involuntary movements that occur during the startle reflex . It is necessary that these three stages be present, or else it is not about this reflection.
Remember that in addition to these, there may be other symptoms, such as crying, which is not always present, although most of the time it does. Another situation that usually occurs is that the baby gathers the legs and closes the toes.
At what age does the Moorish reflex disappear?
As you have seen, the Moorish reflex appears as soon as the baby is born, however, it has an estimated time in which it usually disappears on its own . In general, the startle reflex usually disappears between 3 and 4 months after birth ; however, there may be cases that extend a little more, even reaching 5 months.
Now, although it is the norm that this reflex disappears by itself before reaching 5 months, it may also be the case that it does not. In this case, it is best to take it to the pediatrician.
If the hug reflex lasts longer than 5 or 6 months after birth, it is likely that something is wrong with the baby’s central nervous system , similar to what happens in cases where the reflex is not present. In both cases, it is best to always go to your trusted pediatrician.
Why is there a risk when the Moorish reflex does not appear?
This reflex, like many of the reflexes that the human body has, are directly due to our central nervous system, and are natural reflexes that appear to different types of stimuli as a natural response from the body .
It is considered that there is a risk when there is an absence of the startle reflex, since that natural response that should be present before the stimulus, in this case the sensation of falling or lack of support, does not exist. This indicates that our body is not reacting as it should , which in turn means that something is not right with our central nervous system, which is responsible for these types of reactions to appear.
If we use an analogy, we could say that not presenting the moro reflex after the baby receives a stimulus that produces it, is the equivalent of saying that the computer cursor does not move as we use the mouse.
At this point, the most probable thing is that something is wrong, although in this case it is not known if it is the mouse or the computer that has the problem; In the case of the baby, it is most likely a problem in the nervous system, which can be quite dangerous and even affect the development of the baby if it is not diagnosed and treated early.
In case the reflection doesn’t go away
If it goes beyond 5 months, and the reflex persists, there is a slight probability that something is wrong within the central nervous system, although the probability is not as high as when this reflex is absent.
However, you should not neglect yourself, since, if time continues to pass, and the reflex still does not disappear, the chances of a neurological problem are increased; so it is advisable to always keep a check with the pediatrician , and let him or her say if there is any risk or not that something is wrong.
Tips for Moorish Reflex
For new mothers, the Moorish reflex can be a somewhat confusing and sometimes worrying experience, but there is no need to worry, as you have already seen, it is very common, and it is a stage that every newborn must go through. Here are some tips that will be very useful if your baby is going through this stage.
1. It can happen at any time and for various reasons, so don’t be scared if you see that your child has this reflex
Although it has been discussed in the article that this reflex usually appears when the baby is startled or feels that he does not have a support or support to hold on to; this only represents the most common reasons. The truth is, a baby can be startled by practically anything and thus activate this reflex ; It may be that your baby presents the Moorish reflex every time he hears a voice that seems ” strange ” to him or that outright scares him, as well as it may be that he will startle if he sees a nearby animal or insect.
The reasons why babies startle can be many, but this is normal, they are newborns and still have many things to learn, which makes them easy to shock and therefore startle relatively easily when faced with new stimuli.
2. As far as possible avoid making your baby very startled
While the reflex itself is not a risk, it is also not a good idea to startle your baby constantly and for no reason. It is fine if it happens naturally, but if possible, it is best to try to avoid it, as this can cause the reflex to spread or it can cause your baby to become very sensitive and frightened by any sudden stimulus. Make sure your baby is startled only when you are exploring the Moorish reflex .
3. Talk it all over with your trusted pediatrician
This is not the only reflex that the baby will present, and there are others that are even somewhat rarer. During consultations with the pediatrician, always try to be as open as possible and tell him about all the ” strange behaviors ” of your baby, most of them will be simple natural reflexes, but it is better to be cautious, also, learn something from the hand of the experts never hurt.
4. Wrap your baby well to avoid the Moorish reflex
During the nights, it is common for babies to present this reflex, since they are usually somewhat restless in bed. To avoid this, you just need to wrap it well with its blanket ; There are many ways to do this, and you can find one that you feel most comfortable with. Of course, this is not necessary at all, although it does help prevent the baby from waking up in the middle of the night, or at least prevents it in most cases.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.