Understanding Baby's Senses and Reflexes

Newborn baby holding mother's thumbYour baby is still a few months away from uttering her first word. It’ll be an exciting moment, but it’s just one of the many important milestones in her cognitive, physical (motor skills) and social development. Here’s what you can expect during the first two months, according to MedlinePlus.

Physical Development (newborn to 2 months)

  • When lying on her back, she can lift and turn her head.
  • Her neck can’t support her head when she is pulled up to a sitting position.
  • Her arms are flexed and her hands are fisted.
  • Your baby should be displaying the following primitive reflexes:

-Rooting and sucking: When you touch her cheek, she turns her head to search for a nipple, and she starts to suck when her lips touch a nipple.

-Tonic neck response: Her right arm extends when she looks to the right, while her left arm and leg flex inward (and vice versa).

-Moro (startle) reflex, which is typically triggered by sudden movements or loud sounds: She extends her arms, bends them and then pulls them into her body while crying briefly.

-Palmar hand grasp: Your newborn closes her hand, “gripping” one of your fingers.

-Babinski reflex: When you stroke the sole of her foot, her toes fan outward.

-Plantar grasp: Your baby flexes her toes and forefoot.

-Placing: When you touch the sole of her foot, she extends her leg.

-Stepping and walking: When both of her feet are placed on a surface and her body is supported, she takes brisk steps

Sensory Development

Pediatric experts say all of a baby’s senses are present at birth, but they take some time to develop.

  • Your infant’s senses of taste, touch and smell are mature at birth, and babies prefer sweet tastes.
  • Your baby starts to hear before birth, and her hearing is mature at birth. Babies prefer to listen to the human voice.
  • Newborns can see objects within a range of 8 to 12 inches, and they can track moving objects up to 180 degrees by the time they’re 2 months old. Between 4 to 6 months, their color vision develops.
  • Inner ear (vestibular) senses: Your baby responds to changes of position and rocking.

Contact your baby’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about her physical or sensory development.