It can be tricky to navigate the first few weeks of baby’s life, especially as a first-time parent. You are learning how to take care of your baby, and your baby is learning how to cope with the big, wide world. One of the most frustrating things is dealing with the Startle Reflex. You finally get your baby to sleep, and you are carefully lowering them into the bassinet so that you can get a few hours sleep yourself. Suddenly, your baby throws her arms and legs out, and begins crying uncontrollably. Seemingly for no reason. Welcome to the Startle Reflex.
What is the Startle Reflex?
The Startle Reflex is also known as the Moro Reflex. It is when your baby will startle for no apparent reason. But it is actually a response to a loud noise, a sudden movement, or when your baby has the sensation that they are falling. This falling sensation is because your baby feels like
they don’t have enough support and can often be triggered by transferring your baby from your arms, into their bed.
The reflex is your baby’s first attempt to protect herself from harm. When the startle occurs, your baby will tense up her body, unclench her fists, and throw out her arms and legs. She will then reclench her fists and bring her arms and legs back in towards her body abruptly. It will look almost as if she is giving herself a hug. She is actually making herself feel secure. The startle can pass as quickly as it came on, and often it will cause your baby to become distressed, cry and need reassurance.
How To Prevent the Startle Reflex
There is no way to completely prevent the startle reflex from occurring, as it is a natural response to a genuine feeling. But you can minimise the number of times it occurs by ensuring your baby feels secure as much as possible.
The best way to prevent the startle reflex in the early weeks is to swaddle your baby to give them a feeling of comfort and security. Because your baby’s limbs are wrapped against their body, they are also unable to flail their limbs about.
When your baby is beyond the swaddling stage, or doesn’t take to being swaddled, but still suffers from the startle reflex, The Angel Sleep Sack is your solution. It helps your baby feel secure by having a slight restriction in the arms. This maintains that feeling of being swaddled, but gives your little one enough freedom to roll.
You can also minimise the occurrence of the startle reflex by keeping your baby as close to your body as possible when putting them into their bassinet or crib. Try to place your baby on the mattress before you break the close contact with your body. The sensation of the mattress on their back will allow them to feel supported, preventing the startle.
Written by Jackie, founder of Angel Sleep Sacks.