As an expecting or new parent, there are SO many new things to learn as you enter the vast world of babies. While it may seem overwhelming from time to time, it is important to remember, YOU are the expert when it comes to your baby. The baby professionals and experts are along for the ride to provide you with the knowledge, tools, and skills so you can make the best decisions for your baby.
- What is Moro Reflex?
- Phases of Moro Reflex
- How long does Moro Reflex typically last?
- How can swaddling help?
What is Moro Reflex?
Moro reflex is a normal baby reflex, commonly known as the “startle reflex”, that indicates a normal and developing nervous system. Pediatricians will evaluate your baby for the Moro reflex, along with other newborn reflexes. It is defined as “a reflex reaction of infants upon being started (as by a loud noise or a bright light) that is characterized by extension of the arms and legs away from the body and to the side and then by drawing them together as if in an embrace (Merriam-Webster).
- Phase 1: Arms flail, inhales air and may begin to cry and/or fuss. Baby experiences the falling sensation during this phase.
- Phase 2: Baby resumes fetal position, arms and legs curled in close to body.
Moro Reflex Triggers
There are many triggers to be aware of that elicit the Moro reflex. Most commonly they include:
- Auditory: loud, sudden noises and unfamiliar sounds
- Visual: changes in light intensity.
- Touch: sudden touch or quick movement.
- Shifting Movement: any movement that makes baby feel unsupported or off balance, change in direction of baby’s body.
How long does the Moro reflex typically last?
On average it lasts between 3-6 months of age. Around this time a baby will be more familiar and comfortable with its body out of the womb. A baby will generally have more control over its limbs and movements, especially increased strength. You will begin to notice the absence of the Moro reflex more. During this time period, you may also see your baby start to roll over…make sure to jot that milestone down in the baby book!
Important to Remember
While the Moro reflex may be interrupting your newborn’s sleep, along with yours and your family’s, the presence of the Moro reflex is indeed a good thing. In no way is it harmful to your baby, rather a sure sign that their nervous system is healthy and developing. There muscles and nerves are responding as they should, it just might be keeping them awake during important sleep time. In positive news, there is a proven technique to reduce the Moro reflex…SWADDLING.
How Can Swaddling help?
Swaddling is an age-old practice of wrapping infants in blankets or similar cloths so that movement of the limbs is tightly restricted (Wikipedia). Baby has spent all of its time cozied up in their mother’s womb. The womb’s environment is dark, warm, cozy, safe and secure. Upon entering the big, big world, a baby is exposed to a major change is stimuli. It is cold, loud, freeing and downright overstimulating. What could possibly help a baby adapt to this sudden change...being swaddled! It makes them feel safe, warm and quiet. Almost as if they are back in their mother’s womb. Ahhhhh…warm, snug and happy once again! Cue happy parents!
Most importantly, swaddling aids in newborn sleep and reduces the likeliness of the Moro reflex waking a sleeping baby. Make sure to follow the guidelines for safe sleeping and swaddling according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Benefits of Swaddling
Learning how to properly swaddle your baby and attune to your baby’s preferences will indeed be a lifesaving trick in your “Mommy/Daddy Poppins bag.” As you rack your brain for the best way to quiet your fussy baby, think SWADDLE! When swaddled correctly, swaddling can be an effective practice to calm and soothe babies and promote sleep, while allowing baby to feel like they are back inside their mother’s belly. No more flailing limbs. Your baby is wrapped up tightly in their swaddle, with nothing to do but sleep. Bye- bye, startles and hello, sleep!
How Do I Know What Swaddle is Best for my Baby?
- Lightweight and breathable
- Stretchy and secure fabric
- No loose ends
We hope you learned more about the Moro reflex and the many benefits of swaddling. Wishing all of you and your babies, many nights of restful and peaceful sleep ahead.