A pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant will give your newborn a complete check-up and head-to-toe exam within the first 24 hours. Your newborn’s heart, reflexes, joints, hearing, and internal organs will be carefully examined. His umbilical cord is checked to make sure it is beginning to heal as it should.
Your newborn’s reflexes
Babies are born with certain automatic movements, called reflexes. Your newborn’s physical exam will include testing the reflexes listed below. You can try testing the rooting, grasping, and Babinski reflex. Don’t worry if your newborn doesn’t respond to your tests. He may be sleepy, hungry, or just not interested. Some of these reflexes lasts for months, others disappear in a few weeks.
Babinski reflex Stroking the bottom of your newborn’s foot, from his heel toward his toes, will cause his toes to turn up. At 12 to 18 months of age, this same stroking will cause his toes to curl down.
Grasping reflex Putting your finger in your newborn’s palm will cause him to grip your finger. If you press the side of his foot with your thumb, his toes will curl down in a grasping motion.
Rooting and sucking reflex Gently stroke your newborn’s cheek with your hand. He will turn his face toward your hand and open his mouth searching for a nipple. The rooting reflex helps babies find food while their senses of sight and smell are developing. If he bumps his face with his fist, your newborn may find his thumb to suck; babies calm themselves by sucking.
Startle (Moro) reflex If your newborn is suddenly disturbed, he will respond by throwing out his arms and legs with his hands outstretched. Then he will draw them back in with his fists clenched—some babies even cry. You may notice this reflex when he hears a sudden noise or his crib is bumped. This reflex goes away in about 2 months.
Stepping reflex Holding your newborn under his arms and upright over a flat surface will cause him to lift his legs as if he is trying to walk or take steps. This reflex lasts only a few weeks.
Tonic neck reflex Like a fencer, your newborn will extend the arm and leg on the side he is facing and flex the arm and leg on the other side.
Caring For Your Newborn
Table of Contents
Caring Begins at Birth
Your Newborn’s Hospital Check-up
Ten Fingers and Ten Toes
Special Care for Your Newborn
When Your Newborn Cries
Changing Your Newborn’s Diaper
Feeding Your Newborn – breast or bottle feeding
Feeding Your Newborn – spit ups, weight gain, BMs
Bathing Your Newborn
Dressing Your Newborn
Shhh!! We’re Sleeping
Keeping Your Baby Safe
Your Newborn’s Admirers
Taking Your Newborn Out
If Your Newborn Gets a Cold
If You Have Questions
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Take Care of Yourself, Too