A patient is on her third postpartum day when she tells the nurse that she sometimes has difficulty getting the infant to suck. She describes the infant opening the mouth when the breast touches her face but turning the head in the opposite direction. The nurse correctly explains that this behavior is related to:


•The mother may have pressed the baby’s face, not the cheek, against her breast. This will cause the child to turn away from the mother.

•Brushing the infant’s cheek with a nipple stimulates the newborn’s rooting reflex. The baby will then turn toward the breast.

•Tonic neck reflex is elicited through turning the newborn’s head to the side. The arm on that side will extend while the opposite arm wll contract. This prepares the infant for voluntary reaching and may be a precursor to hand/eye coordination.

•Extrusion reflex is not associated with feeding. A newborn will extrude any substance that is placed on the anterior portion of the tongue. This protective reflex prevents the swallowing of inedible substances.

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