Why does baby stimulation start with stimulation of the reflexes?

Your baby is already “equipped” with the necessary “tools”, right from birth, to one day become the brightest scholar he/she can be. These “tools” are the various primitive reflexes, presented as the first building blocks in each area of development, which is also unique to man. . Primitive reflexes are brainstem-mediated, automatic movements which may begin as early gestation week 25-26, and which are fully present at birth in term new-born. Primitive reflexes start to disappear when the central nervous system matures and voluntary motor activities replace them (Min et al. 2011).  The Apgar is a quick test performed on a baby by the doctor at one and five minutes after birth. This test will give an indication of your baby’s muscle tone and strength of reflexes. The lower your baby’s score, the more you need to stimulate baby’s reflexes. Even if your baby had a perfect score, repetitive stimulation of the reflexes will ensure optimum development of the neurological wiring, integrating the reflexes with the brain processes, thus laying the foundation upon which all later blocks will be built. Reflexes that are not well integrated may lead to all sorts of learning problems later in life. Also, your baby needs tremendous reinforcement at each stage in order to reach the next stage, which will occur sooner than if left to accident (Doman& Doman 2005:35). Next week we will discuss one of your baby’s most amazing reflexes. Watch this space!


Doman, G., Doman, J., 2005, How smart is your baby? Develop and nurture your newborn’s full potential, Square One Publishers, New York.

Min, S., Ahn, Y. & Lee, S., 2011, Assessment of Primitive Reflexes in High-Risk Newborns, Journal of Clinical Medicine Research 3(6), December, 285-290.

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