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The Positive Support Reflex Explained

positive support reflex

New parents have a lot to learn – and keeping track of milestones can easily become overwhelming! Especially if you’re a first-time parent, it can be hard to know the “correct” developmental timeline. Many of us find ourselves wondering why my baby isn’t standing? Or when they’ll begin to put their feet down?

Of course, every baby develops at their own pace. And while milestones are a helpful guide, it’s important to remember that they’re ranges – not deadlines! Don't stress if your little one doesn't hit a milestone on the exact calendar date.

So, with that weight lifted, allow us to introduce the positive support reflex. Essentially, it’s a fascinating bodily response that prepares your baby for future movement. Now, let’s delve into what it is and why it matters. 

What is the Positive Support Reflex?

Have you noticed your little one pushing up with their legs when held upright? That's their positive support reflex kicking in!

So, what is the positive support reflex, might you ask? Well, it’s a natural part of your baby's development – usually appearing around three to four months old. It occurs when you hold your baby upright (with their feet gently touching a flat surface), and they extend their legs to try to support some of their weight. Essentially, it’s the first step to learning how to stand. 

Later on, around the five- or six-month mark, the reflex gets even stronger. Parents will find that their baby can support most of their weight while standing (with mom’s or dad’s help, of course). 

Why Does The Positive Support Reflex Matter?

While we all want our little ones to stand tall on their own two feet (both figuratively and literally), there's no need to rush it. Simply think of the positive support reflex as a signal that your baby is close to standing independently. Essentially, it’s just a way to track their development. 

That being said, it’s worth mentioning to your pediatrician if your baby hasn’t started weight-bearing in a supported standing position by the time they’re six months old. While this isn’t cause for immediate concern, your healthcare provider can help determine what’s “normal” for your little one. Many babies hit milestones a little later down the road – and that is perfectly okay! 

How to Help Your Baby Develop the Skills to Stand

Here are some simple ways to nurture this reflex and encourage your little one's journey to standing:

  • Tummy Time. This classic activity strengthens core muscles, which are crucial for balance.

  • Bouncing Fun. Place your baby on your lap or play mat (make sure their feet are flat) and gently bounce them up and down.

  • Learning by Example. Provide your baby with safe opportunities to watch other babies stand. This sparks their curiosity and motivates them to try it themselves.

Of course, it’s important to remember that falling is a normal part of learning to stand. Your baby is simply figuring out their balance! Be there to offer gentle support and encouragement as they explore their new skills.

Best Infant Care Fort Worth

Every new parent wonders what milestones their baby should be hitting (and when, exactly, they should hit them). However, asking for help never hurts! With over a decade of newborn care experience, our Newborn Nightingales’ team is here for you. 

Our talented staff can help you track milestones, care for your baby throughout the night, or run errands for you during the day. Additionally, we offer both in-home and virtual consultations to answer all of your newborn questions. Simply let us know how we can serve you! 

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