Sensory and Motor Growth in Newborns
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Your newborn is equipped with all five senses, although some are more developed than others.
Motor skills develop as your baby's muscles and nerves work together.
Reflexes prompt your newborn's limb movements. Reflexes are involuntary movements made when another part of the body is stimulated. For example, when the side of a newborn's cheek is touched, the baby turns his or her head in that direction, opens his or her mouth, and tries to suck. This is called the rooting reflex. Newborn reflexes disappear in the first months of life as the brain matures.
Your newborn's spontaneous movements generally affect both sides of the body. In addition, when your baby's limbs are extended, he or she will instinctively snap back to a flexed position. When a newborn is alert, his or her hands are tightly fisted.
Newborns often have jittery or jerky movements. These are normal and gradually disappear over the first few weeks. Their arms and fingers sometimes make smooth and graceful movements.
Your baby may become fussy toward the end of the day. This may be a way for the baby's immature nervous system to handle the accumulated stimulation from the day.
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Current as ofMay 4, 2017
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