During the first month of life most of babies' behavior is reflexive, meaning their reactions are automatic. Later, as the nervous system develops, babies will put more thought into their actions. Some of the newborn reflexes are described below.
Mouthing reflexes: These reflexes are important for babies' survival, helping them find the source of food. The sucking and swallowing reflexes are most important. A baby will automatically begin to suck when his mouth or lips are touched. The rooting reflex is when the baby turns his head toward your hand if his cheek is touched. This helps baby find the nipple for feeding. The rooting reflex begins to fade around 4 months.
Startle (Moro) reflex: The startle reflex occurs when a baby hears a loud noise or when he falls backwards, his arms and legs extend away from his body. This reflex is most noticeable during the first month and usually fades by 2 or 3 months.
Grasp reflex: A baby will grasp a finger or object when it is placed in the palm of his hand. This reflex is strongest during the first 2 months and usually fades by 5-6 months.
Stepping reflex: Even though baby cannot support his own weight, if his feet are placed on a flat surface, he will begin to step one foot in front of the other. The stepping reflex usually disappears by 2 months.
By the end of the first month of life, most babies may display the following:
Raise head when on stomach
Keep hands in tight fists
Focus 8-12 inches away, looks at objects and faces and prefers the human face over other patterns
Show a behavioral response when hearing a noise (such as eye blinking, acting startled, change in movements or breathing/respiratory rate)