BABY STEPPING REFLEX

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WHAT IS THE STEPPING REFLEX ?

When a relatively newborn baby is held under the armpits, his feet are placed on a flat surface, and his body weight is inclined slightly forward the stepping reflex is elicited.  The baby appears to walk forward by taking  a series of steps.  Normally present in the first six weeks after birth,  the stepping relex is categorized as a locomotor reflex because it resembles the voluntary movement of stepping.  The above video from LouisTurcanu3′s youtube channel shows a relatively newborn baby demonstrating this reflex.

BABY WALKING:  AVOID FORCING THE STEPPING REFLEX

Many parents who are so excited to see their baby walk create this reflex by holding the baby on his feet and “walking” him forward.  They proudly show how strong he is getting and how much he likes to walk.  But, what most parents do not understand is that reflexes are involuntary movements, the baby has no control over them.  So, they will not get tired and rest.  This results is overused muscles and spams.  In addition to this, the baby’s bones are not strong enough yet to support his weight.  Please do not do this with your baby.  This will delay optimal motor skill development.  Let him spend time on the floor learning several motor skills such as lifting the head, rolling, and crawling.  When his bones and muscles are much more developed he will stand and walk all on his own!

 

4 Responses to BABY STEPPING REFLEX

  1. Thank you. I find your site really helpful.

  2. Does that mean you shouldn’t ever do it? Not even after they have begun crawling and standing?

    • Thank you, Helena, for asking such an important question. The answer is yes, one should avoid forcing baby into the stepping reflex even after they are crawling and standing. Actually, it is best not to put baby into any movement they can not do completely on their own. If they are crawling, focus on coaching them toward the skill of standing and cruising first. If they are standing, focus on the side cruising for awhile. These activities properly strengthen the bones and muscles for the skill of walking. Baby needs time in each of these skills to prepare for the complexity of walking.

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