How Infant Tummy Time Can Affect Primitive Reflexes


As I’ve shared before, primitive reflexes are certain reflexes that develop while the baby is in the womb. Some of these reflexes include the startle reflex, when your baby spreads his arms when he feels or thinks he is falling, and the rooting reflex, which is the baby’s natural reaction to suck when you stroke his cheek or when he is hungry. After a certain time, these reflexes ought to be integrated into the higher centers of the brain when the baby reaches certain developmental milestones. Usually, this is around 6 months or so. If these reflexes however are retained, there may be social, learning and behavioral problems. In some cases, it can also be a cause for ADHD and autism.

For example, a retained startle reflex could result in:

·         Motion sickness

·         Poor balance and coordination

·         Emotional immaturity

·         Inability to focus

·         Difficulty with motor coordination

·         Allergies and decreased immunity

·         Mood swings and anxiety

So what can cause these reflexes to be retained? And what can we do?

In our last interview with Canelle Demange (thank you, Canelle!), she pointed out that tummy time is extremely important for infants to explore and develop their own movements. It turns out that lack of tummy time is a possible factor in retained primitive reflexes too. If a baby is on his back or always in a reclined position such as a rock’n’play or a car seat, he may not be able to properly develop the movements that he needs. He could possibly thus retain primitive reflexes, which could lead to ADHD, autism and other developmental disorders.

So new parents, make sure your baby is getting enough tummy time!  Here are some tips:

·         You can put your baby on his tummy from week one, as long as you are watching and supervising carefully. He may not like it at first and might fuss; but know that tummy time is vastly important for his development!

·         Don’t do tummy time when he’s hungry, tired or upset. Find a time when he’s quiet and relaxed.

·         Talk to him in soothing tones and encourage him during tummy time. Babies are comforted when they know that you’re there, so go down to his eye level by lying down on the floor with him. You can also try putting him on your tummy or chest too.

·         Toys are great distractions. As his eyesight improves, you can move his favorite toy above his head and he’ll be able to track it, and eventually try to lift his head.

·         As he becomes more familiar with tummy time, you can extend the length several minutes at a time for longer periods.

For more tummy time ideas, you can visit this link below: