Fear of the unknown can play a major role in feelings of apprehension during the early weeks of parenting. Understanding the different characteristics of your baby’s behavior and knowing why he/she is behaving a certain way will assist in easing some of this fear, making it easier for you to read and care for your baby. Understanding that your baby is behaving in response to his/her strong primitive reflexes rather than as a result of how you are parenting is a big step toward feeling empowered and in control.
Your new baby’s reflexes are involuntary body movements which occur as a reaction to certain types of stimulation and light touch. Infants are born with a number of instinctual responses to stimuli and these are known as ‘primitive reflexes’. Your baby has no control over these reflexes and it is nature’s way of ensuring all of his/her needs are met until developed enough (both physically and cognitively) to think about, be aware of and control his/her movements.
Some of your baby’s reflexes can happen spontaneously, as part of his day to day activity and some happen as a response to touch and other certain triggers. Many of these reflexes disappear by 4 months of age and some may last a little longer. They will, however, all disappear as your baby’s nervous system develops and matures. Baby’s do this at different rates. They are ‘all’ different.
These involuntary reflexes can, at times, cause you concern or confusion as they are not always a clear indication of what your baby needs or wants. It is, however, important to recognize them and understand that they are ‘normal’. Understanding these normal newborn behaviors will help you to be more at ease when dealing with the day to day demands of caring for your new baby!