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When babies are born, they’re born with a primitive reflex called the Rooting Reflex. It’s in place to ensure they survive by being able to find food.

A light touch on baby’s cheek, or stimulation of the edge of the mouth, will cause a baby to turn its head toward the side of stimulation and open its mouth with an extended tongue in preparation for suckling. It helps baby put the nipple in its mouth.

If the Rooting Reflex is retained, there may be hypersensitivity around the lips and mouth. The tongue may remain too far forward, resulting in speech and articulation problems, dribbling, difficulty swallowing and chewing. They may also be fussy eaters or thumb suckers (thumb sucking is a big indicator that this reflex is still engaged).

Once corrected, normalisation of hormonal functions in children and adults can occur. Typical outcomes include balancing of the Thyroid as well as Adrenaline and Cortisol (stress hormones).

If the Rooting Reflex is retained, it may lead to:

  • Hypersensitivity around lips and mouth.
  • Tongue sitting too far forward in the mouth.
  • Dribbling.
  • Speech problems.
  • Poor manual dexterity when speaking.
  • Hormonal imbalances.

How to Test for the Rooting Reflex at Home

  • Run your finger gently from the corner of your child’s mouth out towards the bottom of the jaw.
  • Also run your finger gently from the middle of the child’s bottom lip down their chin.
  • Look for a response in your child. They may jump, twitch, laugh (ticklish), move their head (either towards you or away).
  • A response/movement indicates their Rooting Reflex may be retained.

(P.S. these tests work on adults too!)

What to do about it?

A Kinesiology balance can identify and rectify retained primitive reflexes. If you think you, your child, or an adult in your life may have a retained Rooting Reflex, book an appointment so we can test and balance the primitive and postural reflexes.

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