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Sucking Reflex

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Definition: The sucking reflex is probably one of the most important reflexes your newborn has, especially when you pair it with the rooting reflex. If you touch the roof of your baby’s mouth with your finger, a pacifier or a nipple, he will instinctively begin sucking. Around 2 to 3 months of age, your baby’s sucking will be a result of conscious effort and no longer a reflex.

Be aware that every time your baby exhibits this reflex, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s hungry. Sucking is a soothing, enjoyable activity for your baby all by itself.

One reason some mothers may get a slow start breastfeeding has to do with this reflex. It’s not just the nipple that that needs to go into your baby’s mouth, but a fair amount of your areola as well. If you just have the tip of your nipple in his mouth, it may not be far enough back to stimulate this sucking reflex. In addition, the milk sinuses won’t be properly compressed by your baby’s tongue and jaw.

If your baby is not exhibiting this reflex, call your health care provider or a lactation consultant immediately.

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