Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Sensory and Motor Growth in Newborns
Your newborn is equipped with all five senses, although some are more developed than others.
Motor skills develop as your baby's muscles and nerves work together.
Reflexes prompt your newborn's limb movements. Reflexes are involuntary movements made when another part of the body is stimulated. For example, when the side of a newborn's cheek is touched, the baby turns his or her head in that direction, opens his or her mouth, and tries to suck. This is called the rooting reflex. Newborn reflexes disappear in the first months of life as the brain matures.
Your newborn's spontaneous movements generally affect both sides of the body. In addition, when your baby's limbs are extended, he or she will instinctively snap back to a flexed position. When a newborn is alert, his or her hands are tightly fisted.
Newborns often have jittery or jerky movements. These are normal and gradually disappear over the first few weeks. Their arms and fingers sometimes make smooth and graceful movements.
Your baby may become fussy toward the end of the day. This may be a way for the baby's immature nervous system to handle the accumulated stimulation from the day.
Current as of:
August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Susan C. Kim MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope MD - Pediatrics
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.