Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)
Emerges 6-9 months of life
Inhibits 9-11 months of life
Stimulus and response When the child is on all fours, flexion of the head causes the arms to bend and the legs to extend, resulting in the head being pushed forward to the floor; head extension causes the legs to flex and arms to straighten, resulting in child sitting back on its knees.
Function Helps infant to rise on to all fours from prone position. Connected to TLR, helping to inhibit it, and bridging to the next stage of development, crawling on hands and knees. Also helps develop ability to adjust focus from near to far distance.
Effect when retained Affects posture and hand-eye coordination. Difficulties with binocular vision (rapid adjustment of near to far vision), slowness at copying tasks (difficulty with any activity that involves adjustment of vision, such as copying onto paper from a blackboard)
- Child may skip crawling stage, bottom-shuffling or similar, until he walks
- Poor reading and copying skills
- Tendency to slump over desk or table
- Ape-like walk
- Messy eating habits
- Poor ability to adjust from near to far vision
- Poorly developed near vision
- Poor at ball sports and swimming
Emerges 3-10 weeks of life (takes over from TLR Forwards, once it has been integrated and adequate muscle tone has developed)
Inhibits 3 years of life
Stimulus and response When baby is suspended in the air and supported under the stomach, limbs extend.
Function Controls balance between flexor and extensor muscles, helps to increase muscle tone when prone. Helps inhibit TLR Forwards, developing head-righting. Strengthens back muscles in preparation for standing, assists in inhibition of Spinal Galant
Effect when retained Affects development of balance, ability to flex leg muscles correctly, vertical eye tracking.
- Poor at sports
- Stiff awkward movements in lower half of body
- Difficulty in hopping, jumping, etc
The importance of creeping and crawling
There is some confusion as to what is creeping and what is crawling. On this website, I use the most commonly understood meaning of crawling – moving along on hands and knees, which supersedes creeping along the floor on the tummy like a commando. Both are essential for development of the vestibular and visual systems of the body, allowing the baby to develop a sense of balance, space and depth. Crawling also aids inhibition of the early reflexes and helps develop cross-laterality, the integration of both sides of the brain and of fluid locomotion. When eyes look at each hand in turn, they cross the body’s mid-line, which develops near vision and aids fluent reading. Missing out the crawling stage can be indicative of retained reflexes, and can have severe consequences on a child’s development.