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The Moro Reflex

As discussed in my last blog post, we all are born with seven primitive reflexes. These reflexes develop in Utero and help to keep us alive in the first few weeks of life. In order for later voluntary skills to develop, primitive reflexes must fade to allow the appropriate development of the postural reflexes (adult reflexes).

The Moro reflex

  • Trigger: Loud noise, sudden touch, sudden change in light intensity, change of balance/direction

  • Response: This reflex sees the baby throw its arms open wide whilst taking a sudden breath in. They will then release and close again like they are giving themselves a hug.

  • How long does it last? 2 to 4 months

  • Reason: This reflex is initially involuntary and helps with the birthing process to open up the windpipe and to take a breath. It is part of the baby’s flight or flight system. It is also believed that the 'startled' action where the arms and legs are flung open are to alert others and that the curling in phase is grasping on to their mother for security and safety.

While you’ll see Moro Reflex decrease from 4 to 6 months old, you’ll also notice your baby has more control over his/her movements and can roll over and back as they approach the 6 month mark

Activities to support this development

The ‘Starfish’

Using soothing, legato style music, for example:

1) Curl your child up in a ball then open their arms and legs wide

2) Fold your little one’s arms and legs back in (left over right)

3) Repeat these two steps but now put the right arm and leg on the top.

Tummy Time

Any sort of tummy time has a whole host of benefits for your little one.

Place your little one on their tummy on a beach or gym ball.

1) Roll backwards / forwards.

2) Side to side

3) Bounce gently on bottom


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