Why rooting reflex is essential in baby care & how to develop it

An infant when born can look to be quite helpless requiring endless hours of baby care, but you would be surprised to how how well that fragile bundle is well-equipped when it comes to reflexes. The baby is born with some reflexes that are meant to aid her survival in the world, where she is too little to tell her needs to pain. Rooting, Moro and sucking are some of these primitive reflexes a newborn comes with.

Rooting reflex– This reflex starts when the corner of the infant’s mouth is stroked or touched. She will turn her head and open her mouth to follow and root in the direction of the stroking. Though a very instinctive reflex, it is very important since it helps the baby to reflexively find the nipple and then feed. The rooting reflex is then followed up with the sucking reflex where the baby eventually latches onto the nipple to suck properly–an essential part of baby care.

But even though the baby is born with it, parents should help define and boost the rooting reflex for the baby since it enables the baby turn its head, strengthens the muscles involved in the movement–thereby directly and positively boosting the development of her motor skills.

Rooting reflex is present in newborn babies, who automatically turn the face toward the stimulus and make rooting motions with the mouth when the cheek or lip is touched. The rooting reflex helps to ensure successful breastfeeding and boosts motor skills.

Objective of Rooting Reflex Activity in Baby Care:

Though rooting reflex is majorly identified with helping the baby feed, our experts also suggest using it to boost the baby’s motor skills–a part of developmental milestones. That’s a double advantage with the same activity. When the sides of the baby’s mouth will be stimulated the baby will reflexively:
1. Turn her head to one side and then to the other side thereby developing her motor skills.
2. Additionally it will also help the baby to identify food source–nipple in this case–and then latch on for feed.

Impact of Rooting Reflex Activity on the developmental milestones of a 0-3 month old baby:

When the baby’s sides of the mouth are stimulated, she will instinctively turn her head in the direction. And the best deal: it requires no special equipment, can be done anytime and anywhere, is playful and fun and both the baby and mother will enjoy it. Also, since it can be done anytime, it does not demand any time constraints from you. Through this movement, she will learn how to

  1. Turn her head intentionally to one side.
  2. It will develop her Motor Skills.

Benefits of Rooting Reflex Activity for child to achieve her developmental milestones:

This simple, playful activity has more than one advantage in baby care and child development. While doing the activity you can choose to sing or talk to your baby as well. It

  • helps in developing neck movement of the baby which is a very important precursor to the baby eventually learning to support her head.
  • Develops rooting reflexes and improves muscle strength which again is essential and helps the baby support her neck later on, sit, crawl and move.
  • Singing and talking to your baby while conducting the activity also helps you bond with her and boosts her language and communication skills.

How to do Rooting Reflex Activity for child development:

Before starting on the activity, we suggest that you read through the entire process and also watch the video. This will ensure that the activity is done in a way to gain maximum mileage out of the activity in boosting developmental milestones.

  1. Sit in a comfortable place and stretch your legs. Ensure you are sitting in a stable position.
  2. Place your child on your lap in a supine position (lying on her back).
  3. You can place a soft cloth on your legs to make it comfortable for the child.
  4. Now call her by her name or communicate with her.
  5. Now place one finger near your child’s lips, on either side, and gently make stroking movements thereby creating a gentle tingling sensation for the baby.
  6. Observe your child (She will turn head towards the side, where the finger is placed).
  7. Repeat the activity.
  8. It is based on rooting reflex which facilitates neck movements.
  9. Keep communicating with your baby throughout the activity.
  10. Repeat the steps 2-3 times, unless baby starts showing any signs of discomfort.

Note to take into account when doing the rooting reflex activity with your baby:

This is a very simple, fun activity with child development benefits greater than you would attribute to you. You can do it anytime and anywhere…all you need is a place to sit comfortably in. Ensure your baby is in a happy mood before doing it with her, else she will not support it. She should be well fed, in a new diaper, and well rested as well. It can be done anytime of the day, and more than one time. But watch out for signs of tiredness in the baby--if she becomes fussy, cranky or irritable that will mean she has had enough of it. Avoid the activity if any discomfort is found in your child.

Happy parenting. Do share with us in the comments below how your baby enjoyed the rooting reflex activity.

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