Startle With Everyday Sounds- is it Normal?

Startle With Everyday Sounds- is it Normal?

Do you often notice your new born start crying the moment there happens to be a loud noise in the surrounding or may be when you are putting your baby down to sleep. This naturally occurring involuntary reaction, known as the Startle reflex (Startle response) or Embrace reflex and is normal in healthy babies. It serves as an internal alarm system to ensure your baby responds to danger – loud noises, sudden movements, falling to name a few.

When does it start?
Reflexes are the key in the development of infants and show that your baby’s little nervous system is developing properly. Startle reflex develops in the womb and will be present at birth. This may be observed in incomplete form in premature birth after the 25th week of gestation, and is usually present in complete form by the 30th week (third semester).

How does it appear?
When babies exhibit the startle reflex, they typically react by throwing out their arms and legs and extending their necks, then rapidly bringing their arms back together. Often they cry at the same time or shortly afterward. It’s all part of being a baby, and you don’t really need to do anything about it. Once the neck can support the weight of the head, at about 3 months of age, babies start having fewer and less intense startle reflexes. They might only extend and curl the arms without moving the head or legs.

When does it stop?
By the time your baby reaches about 2 months of age, they acclimatize well to life around and start to feel more comfortable and secure in their surroundings. Startle reflex usually runs its course by the time your baby reaches three months of age and disappears around the four month mark.
Of course, everyone gets startled by things, sounds or unexpected events, no matter their age. And hence startle response to loud noises is permanent, while it stops in response to everyday sounds as your child becomes more and more aware of the surroundings and accustomed to them.

What happens if it continues? / Retained startle reflex
In some of the babies, the startle reflex does not fully integrate even after six months of age, and is thus considered a “retained” reflex. With a retained startle reflex, your child may show an exaggerated startle reaction with excessive release of the neurotransmitters, cortisol and adrenaline (the stress chemicals). This causes the child to experience a state of stress or “hyper arousal”, which contributes to decreased memory, excessive anxiety or/and decreased immunity. It may also cause the child to become hypersensitive to different types of sensory inputs including: temperature, touch, movement, visual and sound.

Reasons for persistence of the reflex
There are many reasons why a child might retain a primitive reflex including the startle reflex. For some children it is due to prematurity or low birth weight, C- section or traumatic birth, exposure to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy and/ or infancy, severe illness/trauma/injury, lack of tummy time, multiple ear infections or having spent little time crawling before walking.

When to see a doctor
When a baby does not have normal reflexes, it can be sign of potential problems. So if you think your baby is exhibiting a true Startle reflex and he/she is older than 3 months, you can consider talking to your paediatrician.
Watch for your baby’s reflex at home, keep a chart of baby’s behaviours and let your doctor/paediatrician know if your baby seems to lose the reflex sooner than should be expected or persists way after it was supposed to be integrated.
Also don’t be overly concerned if you notice your baby showing unusual responses to everyday sounds. Stay calm and talk to your doctor.
Who knows you might just have a more sensitive baby!!
And with the help of your doctor you will be able to learn various positions or movement techniques to keep your baby from getting startled.

Play with Purpose !!

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *