Let's talk about the "typical" Moro reflex integration process! The Moro reflex is developed in utero and should be present when a full-term, healthy baby is delivered. The Moro reflex is typically elicited moments after delivery. The first time a baby demonstrates a Moro reflex, it should look like this: the newborn inhales by taking his first breath of life, extending his arms, flexing the arms back into the body, and then letting out a big first cry! It is perfectly normal for the baby to continue to show a "startle" response throughout early infancy. It can be seen when his mom lowers him down to change his diaper or moves him too quickly. He also startles to loud, unexpected sounds. The baby can even cause the Moro reaction through his movements by moving his head, kicking his feet, coughing, or sneezing.
According to Sally Goddard Blythe, "The Moro reflex undergoes inhibition in the first four months of postnatal life when it is gradually replaced by a more adult "startle" response." Around four months of age, the baby is much more aware and alert. The Moro reflex integration process has occurred! The baby no longer has an infant startle and does not show physical signs of a Moro reflex when his mom lowers him for a diaper change. Now, he has an "adult startle" response.
This typical response to being scared, or stressed should remain in place throughout the lifespan. Both the infant startle reflex and the "adult startle" elicit stress hormones, and increase alertness and heart rate. The difference between the infant startle response and the adult startle response is that now, his brain doesn't go into "fight or flight" mode. "The adult startle response consists of a brief startle reaction, intake of breath, blink, lifting of the shoulders, and a movement to scan the environment, orient to the stimulus, and decide whether to react to the stimulus or ignore it ("Attention, Balance, and Coordination The A.B.C. of Learning Success)."
If you have concerns about your child and are questioning if the Moro reflex has integrated contact ReSprout Therapy the expert in reflex integration and neuro-development.
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About the Author:
Emily Reynolds, MSOTR is the founder of ReSprout Therapy. She is a pediatric Occupational Therapist who specializes in neurodevelopment and reflex integration.
Emily loves working with parents and kids to find the source of the problem and create lasting changes that impact daily lives and the long-term future of the child.