Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Motor Skills

Newborns, soon after birth, typically fall into a long sleep that lasts about 14-18 hours. This deep sleep helps your baby to conserve energy. It also helps him to stabilize functions such as blood circulation, breathing, and digestion. At birth and during the first few days, newborn babies move randomly. These twitching movements and jerks are involuntary and referred to as reflexes. Reflexes are the first reliable movement responses your baby makes to his environment, and they occur automatically. Some of your baby’s reflexes—mass activity reflexes—manifest themselves by their whole body responding to stimulation of one part of the body. Examples might be changes in temperature, light, and sound. Other reflexes—specific activity reflexes—are seen within an isolated part of your baby’s body. Some researchers believe that babies’ reflexes let them respond to their environment and learn about how to organize their bodies. Some reflexes, such as gagging and coughing, protect your baby. The phasic bite reflex is seen when your baby’s gums are touched and rubbed—here, your baby will respond by opening his mouth from a biting position. The rooting reflex is seen when your baby’s cheek is stroked—he will turn his lips, tongue, and jaw toward the touch. The rhythmic suck-swallow pattern is seen when a finger or nipple is inserted into your baby’s mouth. These reflexes are often seen during eating, and are crucial for nourishment.

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