Infant Development: Reflexes

Reflex actions are part of Jean Piaget’s Sensorimotor period.  Babies are born with these instinctive, automatic Infant.Reflexesresponses; some permanent and some temporary.  Reflexes are a way that infants learn about and react to the world.  This is a lesson that has students learning more about infant reflexes, their stimuli and response using a jigsaw style presentation approach.  Sometimes circumstances prevent you from doing an assignment a certain way so I’ve also included an alternate web activity version to gather the  information just in case you need a sub-plan or a way for students to make up work.  Choose the option that works for you!


  • Ask students what reflexes they have and the purpose of them.  Most will share sneezing, swallowing, blinking and breathing.  I like to include and demonstrate the dilation of the eyes with lighting and how the doctors test reflexes with the rubber ended hammer, hitting right below the knee.  Most students can relate to these.  Briefly discuss how our nervous system works in conjunction with these reflexes.


  • Poster Supplies
  • Projector/Screen
  • Laptops or Mobile Devices
  • Flyswatters


  • To better illustrate and explain infant reflexes, show students the YouTube clip “Infant Reflexes“.
  • Divide students up to complete the jigsaw activity.  Assign one reflex to each group of students to learn more about and to create a poster to share information about their specific reflex with the entire class.  Reflexes I use are grasping, stepping, moro/startle, tonic neck, rooting, sucking, Babinski and Babkin.
  • Posters will need to include the following about their reflex:  name of the reflex, description of the reflex, stimulus, baby’s response and a picture of what the reflex looks like.
  • Students will orally present their reflex poster to the class and students will fill in the chart for each reflex.
  • I like to quiz students on the reflexes so as a review game I like to have them play SWAT.  Write the reflex terms on the board and divide students into two teams.  Read a scenario or description of the term and the first team to SWAT the correct response with the flyswatter gets a point.
  • Alternate Activity:  Personally, I like the interactive approach but if you need an alternate approach to this information or you need a sub-plan I’ve included a web-activity to gather the information in lieu of the jigsaw activity.



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