What are infantile reflexes?
Infantile reflexes are developed when a baby is inside their mother's womb. There are a wide range of reflexes that we need as a baby to assist with a safe labour and delivery; to protect the baby from injury while in the womb and as the baby enters our world; to encourage the baby to suck milk from their mother; and to help the baby to develop motor skills such as rolling, crawling, and running.
Why do we test preschooler's infantile reflexes?
As a baby, we need our infantile reflexes to help us develop from inside our mother's womb, to be able to walk independently as a toddler. However, by preschool our body doesn't need these reflexes any more as the reflexes have served their purpose already.
My concern when working in a range of primary schools and kindergartens, I see many children who aren't getting enough tummy time, crawling, and movement each day so their neurological system is holding on to these reflexes because the brain and the body haven't moved past these milestones as they should have.
A child with retained reflexes (a child who still has their infantile reflexes) may find it difficult to sit still, feel anxious in a busy classroom environment, have difficulty with holding a pencil, find it exhausting to concentrate on the whiteboard for long periods of time, etc.
Learn more about infantile reflexes in our free ebook - here
Scenario for a child with their infantile reflexes
I've recently been supporting a young 6 year old boy who still has his startle (moro) reflex. What happens for this young boy is, every time he hears a sudden loud sound in the classroom, his body reflexes and flinches similar to a newborn when they hear a loud sound.
This young boy didn't attend kinder before starting school and from the family history that I gathered, he spends hours and hours at home on technology (smart devices, TV screens, video games).
If the brain and body aren't getting movement practice in the form of play, climbing, running, jumping, crawling, then the reflexes that we have when we are born stay present. So instead of this young boy being able to sit calmly in class, his body is reacting to every loud sound, making his behaviour look distracted, agitated, and disruptive for the rest of the class.
Simple morning circle activities included in my training manual can help this young man receive the movement therapy that his body needs to create a calmer body, teacher, and classroom.