Primitive reflexes start to develop in utero and they actually help the baby get down the birth canal during labor. (Who knew!?) A reflex is an automatic motor response that is triggered by a stimulus.
These primitive reflexes assist the baby in their developmental milestones, helping them with things like breastfeeding, rolling, and crawling. But if the reflexes don’t integrate (go away), they can hinder a child’s development. Retained reflexes can cause:
- Sensitivity to touch, sound, smell, and taste
- Balance issues, clumsiness, struggles with sports, runnning into furniture
- Freezing or staying in constant fight or flight mode
- Poor impulse control, being easily distracted, severe mood swings
- Inability to cross the midline, trouble with hand-eye coordination, struggles with fine motor
- Difficulty tracking when reading and writing
- Poor posture, attention issues, wrapping legs around chairs, wetting the bed after age 5
- W-sitting, poor muscle control, toe walking
Texting the Moro Reflex
The Moro Reflex is usually present in infants, 3 to 4 months. The child responds to a sudden loss of support by spreading their arms, then bringing them in, and crying. This reflex should be integrated by the age of 6 months. If the reflex does NOT integrate, the child may exhibit signs of distractibility, poor balance, and coordination, emotional outbursts, food sensitivities, withdrawn behavior, or frequent car sickness.
A child attempting to pigeon walk, as part of the testing for a retained Moro Reflex. The child’s awkward arm position indicates that the reflex IS NOT yet integrated.
Hi, I have a 6.5 month old who can crawl on hands and knees and has begun standing and pulling up on things. However, he cant sit on his own yet. Is this a sign hes just a busy-body who doesnt want to sit? Or can skipping sitting and moving to crawling and standing first cause a retained reflex??
Hi Rebecca! Nothing “causes” a retained reflex, but I think you want to look at his core strength. Ask your pediatrician about this. The good news is he’s still moving forward (and upward!) It’s also a good sign that he’s crawling on his hands and knees, as this is an important foundation for upper extremity stability and hand strength.
How long does it take on average to reintegrate these primitive reflexes? My 6 yr daughter has 4-5 primitive reflexes still, and we are working on the Moro. It’s been about a little over a month doing exercises 5-7x a week, and she is still showing the Moro. I feel we have a long road to integrate all of the primitive reflexes. Any tips ? Lastly, is there a certain order they should be done to integrate ? Thank you!
My daughter is 9 months and has a retained moro reflex, will your instructional videos help me?
Hi Zulia! Check out the course! Yes, there are instructions for a retained Moro.
Hi Miss Jaime,
The videos are very interesting but I am wondering if you have the before and after videos of children who have successfully reintegrated the reflexes and are no longer present?
Hi Jason – No these are videos showing how to test.
Hi, is this something an OT in mainstream ( like a major medical center) would check for , or is this not considered mainstream and would requires a consult with a private OT ?
It is a good idea to ask the therapist. Different companies have different policies/ procedures. A school therapist would not check for this, but a medical facility or sensory clinic most likely would.
I was reading about retained moro reflex. MY 1 YR old son get startled like he did when he was a small baby. How would I know the difference between a retained reflex and a spasm seizure??
Hi Jenny- If you suspect seizures, go to your doctor immediately.