Whole Movement Center

Grasp Refexes

Hand Reflexes Grasp and Palmer/Babkin by Sonia Story

Baby develops the grasp reflex in the third month of pregnancy

The Palmer/Babkin Reflex

The Palmer part of the reflex is a grasping motion

The Babkin response is a connection between hands and mouth and sometimes feet.

We see the Palmer/Babkin response express in the baby’s involuntary hand movements while feeding.

This helps the baby to discover her mouth and prepares the baby for nursing and then eventually leads to self-feeding ability by coordinating hand mouth and other eating reflexes. The reflex allows for the exploration of the sides and midline of the body and is critically important for its role in articulation. Besides its Survival functions, this reflex and related reflexes develop the feelings of pleasure and joy that a company eating and using the mouth.

Considerations for children in adults with unintegrated hand reflexes

it’s the grasp reflex remains unintegrated the thumb and finger movements are neurologically locked together and the ability to move the thumb separately from the fingers is hindered. A retained grasp reflex can cause tension and underdevelopment of the muscles of the hand.

When the Palmer/Babkin Reflex remains unintegrated, movements of the hands and mouth are often connected. Children with a history of speech difficulties but no hearing problems often demonstrate difficulty with thumb and finger opposition coupled with hypersensitivity to gentle stimulation of the palm. Many of these children also show a linkage between hand and mouth movements, i.e., talking with extra finger movements or writing with extra mouth movements.

When there are difficulties with articulation, the corresponding areas of the brain Parentheses left parietal lobe parentheses are under stimulated, which may cause difficulties in perceiving sounds well. By integrating the hand reflexes it is very possible that articulation as well as the ability to perceive sounds will improve.

Children with unintegrated hand reflexes are not yet developmentally ready to write. Instead of repeated handwriting practice, it is helpful to do movements for integration of hand reflexes first. Integrating hand reflexes is a key step in the process of undoing a habitually tense pencil grip. Older children and adults will require more time for this. Is often helpful to take frequent breaks while writing to do hand massage and or hand reflex integration exercises.


Possible Long-term effects of active hand reflexes 

  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Tight or awkward pencil grip
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Nail biting
  • Tension in hands wrist arms and shoulders
  • Tightly clenched fists
  • Compulsive chewing
  • excessive drooling
  • Difficulty separating hand and mouth movements
  • Speech problems, stuttering
  • Addictions
  • Hypersensitive poms

Hand reflexes checking and stimulation 


Grasp reflex 

1. Press 1 finger on top of Palm, just under the fingers. Notice any movements of fingers and the thumb.

2. hold it pen or pencil notice tight or awkward grip

Palmer/Babkin reflex

press from lightly into

Middle of the palm

Just above the middle of the palm

Just to the right of the mid palm

On the thenar eminence (pad at base of thumb)

Movements are fingers and thumb, or movements of the mouth, tongue, jaw or head indicate reflex is unintegrated


Hand reflexes integration 

Choose one or more

  • Grasp and Palmer/Babkin reflexes isometric activities
  • make sucking movements while kneading hands, do 6 to 8 times, swallow then open mouth and hands wide. Do three to five repetitions

Grasp reflex isometric activity 

relax completely between repetitions

press 1 finger at the top of the palm just under the fingers and squeeze around it then slowly open while extending fingers out as much as possible. Repeat three to six times period do each hand separately, then both hands together.

Facilitator can play pencil sharpener while using the finger as the pencil and twisting the palm of the recipient while the recipient squeezes and sharpens the pencil.

Palmer/Babkin reflex  isometric activities 

Relax completely between repetitions

  •  flexing and extending with the whole hand

Press thumb into middle of palm. Clasped hand around thumb and squeeze. Then slowly open mode standing fingers out as much as possible. Repeat three to six times with each hand, then facilitator does both hands of the recipient at the same time

Palmer/Babkin reflex isometric activities 

  •  thumb and little finger isometric

Push the thumb and little finger outward against the pressure of your own fingers or your partner’s fingers. Then do the same in the opposite direction pushing the thumb and little finger inward against resistance