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Moro Reflex

Symptoms if retained:

  • Over-reactive

  • Hyper or Hypo-sensitive

  • Hyperactive

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Visual-perception problems (stimulus bound)

  • Photosensitivity

  • Poor auditory discrimination

  • Poor impulse control

  • Emotional immaturity

  • Motion sickness

  • Poor Immune system (related to allergies, recurring ear, nose and throat problems as well as asthma & eczema)

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Physical timidity

The Moro reflex

The Moro reflex enable the breathing mechanism to establish in utero and facilitates the first breath. It is essentially a reaction to a threat and can be seen as an early form of fight/flight response. Because a baby is unable to assess or react to save itself in this situation, it literally signals its need for help. A retained Moro reflex will cause the child to be in a constant state of over-stimulation, sensitizing it to sound, touch, movement, smell, changes in temperature and environment, light levels and diet.


Children with a retained Moro are constantly in a state of heightened arousal. They learn to cope with this mainly in 2 ways - flight or fight.

In flight, they are anxious, fearful of things, ‘internalised’ and socially independent with few or no friends. This child does not like change or new situations. 

The opposite type is in fight. They are over-excitable, aggressive, dominating and cannot read other peoples body language. 

Both of these types can be incredibly sensitive, perceptive and imaginative yet they often display immature behaviour and overreact in everyday situations.

Often they prefer the company of younger children or adults as they cannot grasp the concepts of peer interaction. 

In the classroom, the ‘Moro child’ may be disruptive, noisy, inattentive, distractible, unable to sit still or remain seated.

Lifespan: 9 weeks in utero to 4 months post birth

Tonic labyrinthine reflex TLR 

Description: When a baby’s head is tilted forward chin to chest, the arms and legs will flex, bending and folding into the body.

When the head is tilted back below the level of the spine, the limbs will stretch out and extend.

This reflex assists the birthing process and has a tonic influence over the whole body, straightening it out from a long period of gestation. It is responsible for developing balance and coordination, muscle tone and proprioception as well as stimulating the later postural reflexes. 


Symptoms if retained:

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Visual perception problems

  • Spatial problems

  • Poor sequencing skills 

  • Poor organisation skills

  • Poor sense of time

  • Motion sickness

  • Under or overdeveloped muscle tone

  • Poor posture

  • Physical timidity (dislike of sports)

  • Toe walking

Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR)

Description: When a baby’s head is turned to the side, the jaw limbs (the side that the head is facing, arm and leg both) extend and the occipital (back of the head) limbs bend.

The ATNR reflex helps the baby to get comfortable in utero and is the cause of the kicking during pregnancy. It also stimulates muscle tone and the balance mechanisms in utero. It is crucial to the birthing process and neonate survival. An underdeveloped ATNR is thought to be a reason for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)


A retained ATNR will have an effect on our balance and constant adjustments to postures need to be made in order to accomplish everyday tasks. This reflex is very much associated with school children as they are required to sit straight on at their desk and when reading and writing are the main tasks.


Lifespan: 18 weeks in utero to 6-11 months post birth


Symptoms if retained:

  • Poor balance and coordination

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Difficulty in crossing the midline

  • inability to have smooth pursuit of eye tracking movement

  • Difficulty writing

  • Difficulty reading

  • Homolateral movement instead of cross patterned in activities such as walking and marching


Symptoms if retained:

  •  Prevent proper crawling (may bear walk or bottom shuffle)

  • Poor posture

  • Poor body control "W" leg position when sitting on the floor.

  • Messy eating

  • Clumsy child syndrome

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Swimming is difficult but better doing it underwater (gravity-free)

  • Difficulty with vertical tracking

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Poor accommodation in vision (readjusting from near to far)

  • Slow at copying tasks

Symmetrical tonic neck reflex (STNR)

Description: When the baby is on all four and the head tilts up, the arms extend and the legs flexed. When the head points down, the arms will flex and legs will extend.

The STNR is not a true primitive reflex but only a transitional one. It is a follow on from the TLR and works on the labyrinth also. It helps to inhibit the TLR and its main function is to help build up the required muscle strength to get up onto hands and knees and must be integrated before the child is able to move forward to crawl. It breaks up the horizontal midline so that the upper and lower body can function independently.


The STNR also trains the eyes in accommodation, adjusting the vision from near to far and back again. 

The stage of crawling is significant for healthy development. It lends fluidity to our movement, teaching cross patterned movements for the body and midline crossing as well as hand-eye coordination for the eyes also. During this stage, the vestibular, proprioception and visual system all begin to cooperate with each other, working together for the 1st time. Other cognitive skills such as object permanence and space perception are also thought to emerge in this crucial stage.

Lifespan: emerges around 6-9 months after birth and should inhibit when the baby is around 9-11 months

Spinal Galant reflex

Description: When the baby's back is stroked down either side of the spine or in the lumbar region,  the hip on that side will flex or rotate. 

The spinal Galant reflex helps the infant to move down the birth canal. It also helps the baby urinate after birth. 

Lifespan: emerges 20 weeks in utero, it is present at birth and should inhibit 3 to 9 months post-birth

Symptoms if retained:

  • Fidgety, Hyper Activity, especially if clothes or chair brush their back.

  • If active down only one side it may cause scoliosis, rotated pelvis and lower back pain.

  • Poor concentration and short term memory 

  • Attention problems

  • Bedwetting long after potty training

  • Fidgeting, difficulty sitting still -“ants in the pants”

  • Posture problems

  • Hip rotation on one side when walking

  • Hypersensitivity to fabrics and labels 

Palmar reflex

Palmar Reflex

Description:  when placing an object into the palm of a newborn baby’s hand it will curl its fingers around the object, usually with the thumb nestling underneath the index finger. This reflex is strong enough to support the baby’s weight if suspended.

Lifespan:  emerges 11 weeks in utero, inhibited by 2-3 months of age

Symptoms if retained:

  • Difficulty with writing grip 

  • Poor dexterity

  • Tactile hypersensitivity of the hands

  • Speech difficulties -lack independent muscle control at the front of the mouth

  • overflow or lack of separation of hand/mouth movements-(Babkin response)

Plantar Reflex

Description:   similar to the palmar reflex it assists the neonate in grasping onto his mother. Its presence allows for movements of the toes and foot and helps stimulate movement of the whole leg.

Lifespan:  emerges at 11 weeks in utero, inhibited by the time the infant learns to stand

Symptoms if retained:

  • Gravitational insecurity in standing

  • hypersensitivity to touch on the soles of the feet

  • clumsy in walking on uneven surfaces

  • If balance is shifted away from the soles of the feet to the balls of the feet, the child may be a toe-walker.

Plantar reflex
rooting reflex

Rooting Reflex

Description:  stimulation to the side of the mouth or cheek will cause the baby to turn the head towards the stimulus. It is strongest immediately after birth and it is important that the neonate’s earliest attempts are gratified or the reflex will weaken after a couple of days and may lead to difficulties in feeding and the reflex having never to have been satiated. 

Lifespan:  emerges 24-28 weeks in utero, present at birth, inhibited by 3-4 months of age

Symptoms if retained:

  • Tongue lies too far forward

  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing certain food

  • Hypersensitive around mouth

  • Immature control of the lips leading to speech and articulation problems

  • hand/mouth still linked affecting independent movements

Suck Reflex

Description:  when the nipple or teat enters the mouth and make contact with the roof of the mouth the suck reflex will be triggered- thus the ‘feeding reflex’ is put into action. If the baby is not able to latch on immediately after birth, he may have difficulties feeding at a later stage.

Lifespan:  emerges 24-28 weeks in utero, present at birth, inhibit by 3-4 months of age

Symptoms if retained:

  • immature swallow pattern may lead to problems will the correct development of the palate

  • Hyper sensitive around mouth

  • Difficulty with textures and solid foods

  • Thumb sucking

  • Speech and articulation problems

  •  links with hand and mouth movement

  • Dribbling

suck reflex
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