Moro Reflex is an early childhood survival reflex. Trigger of the Moro reflex is a sudden stimulus which frightens children

What is the Moro Reflex?

Babies may be small and helpless, but they have powerful and primitive survival instincts. Like their ability to make themselves heard! The Moro Reflex is an instant and rapid physical reaction to threat. The baby throws up their arms, breathes in sharply and snaps open their fingers. Then they breathe in, pull their arms back down by their side, clench their fists and start to cry.
The Moro Reflex can be triggered by loud noise, bright lights or a sudden change in position. It takes its name from Ernst Moro, the Austrian paediatrician who first identified and studied it.
It’s the Moro Reflex that helps babies take their first short, sharp breath after birth. It’s also been observed in primates, helping suckling young grab onto their mothers’ fur at the first sign of danger.
Because it can be a response to change in position, it often happens when you’re putting baby down to sleep. It’s a perfectly normal part of a healthy baby’s development, and usually stops around 3 months after birth.

Baby in Puckababy swaddle bag sleeps in a hammock Baby in Puckababy swaddle bag sleeps in a hammock

The Persistent Moro Reflex

The Moro Reflex is normally replaced by the adult ‘startle reflex’ after around 3 months, or when your baby can support their own head. In some babies, the Moro Reflex carries on into the 4th or 5th months. These babies are often jumpy and anxious sleepers, frequently woken up during the night not by any noise or sudden movement but simply by the reflex itself.

Moro Reflex: How to reduce it?

Always making sure you support your baby’s head, quiet bedtimes, dim lights and maybe some gentle music or white noise are all simple steps you can take. Wrapping your baby tightly in a soft blanket or a Puckababy® sleeping bag can also prevent your baby being disturbed by their own sudden movement. The restricted space will remind them of the safety and security of the 0womb and help them relax.
Many babies also sleep more soundly and startle-free if they’re close to their parents and in motion. By recreating the soothing sway that babies experience when they’re carried, the NONOMO® Swinging Hammock is also a very effective way to reduce the reflex.

If your baby is still showing signs of the Moro Reflex beyond the age of six months, or you notice it happening on one side only, we recommend talking to a medical professional.


If you'd like to learn more about swaddle bags, check out our sister brand: