Whole Movement Center

Moro Reflex

What is Moro reflex?

The Moro reflex is a primary reflex pattern that usually emerges in utero and integrates around 4 months after birth.

  • The sensory stimuli include loud noises, a feeling of being dropped, and being startled.
  • The motor response includes fanning and clenching of fingers, spreading or extension of the extremities, followed by a quick flexion of extremities and crying.

When the Moro reflex is not integrated, but retained, the following symptoms may arise:

  • Sensitivity to sound (auditory defensiveness)
  • Poor coordination
  • Reduced attention
  • Increased distractability
  • Easily startled and fearful in new situations
  • Increased “fight or flight” responses or anxiety
  • [and] Light sensitivity


The Moro Reflex, sometimes referred to as the infant startle reflex, starts to develop twelve weeks after conception. This reflex should be fully emerged by the 30th week in utero and should be integrated four months after delivery. It is the earliest form of the ‘fight or flight’ reaction to stress.

The Moro Reflex is triggered by a strong stimulation of the balance, auditory, visual, tactile or proprioceptive senses (ex. a sudden change of the position of the head, a loud sound, or an unpleasant touch).

The Moro Reflex has two parts. Firstly, the baby takes a deep breath and extends or stretches the arms and legs away from the body. Secondly, a momentary ‘freeze’ occurs before the arms and legs bend and come in towards the midline of the body and the baby cries.

Some signs the Moro reflex may not be fully integrated:

Withdrawal from difficult situations

Fear of trying new things

Difficulty socializing

Hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, movement

Hypersensitivity to vestibular stimulation, and prone to motion sickness, and balance issues

Poor adaptability; dislikes changes or surprises

Problems having confident contact with children their own age

Over reactive

Weak immune system, asthma, allergies, and poor digestion

Overly tired after excessive stimuli exposure