During the neonatal period, babies are adjusting to new social and physical environments. The sensorimotor abilities they acquired in the floating intrauterine fluid environment were harnessed and adapted to the new constraints on movement imposed by gravity and the surfaces they encountered. this Limbs have weight, and movement of limbs creates reaction forces and momentum, which need to be accounted for in their motor control. 
Newborns are born with the ability to interact with their environment.  Instinctive cognitive and sensorimotor behaviors contribute to survival and social bonding.  Babies naturally find ways to use touch to manage arousal levels, self-soothe and adapt to new physical environments. exist In addition to adapting, they also use different calls to express their needs. 
Adapting to the Environment
A baby’s first challenge after birth is regulating breathing temperature and the rest of the autonomic nervous system, which needs to function properly before the baby can focus on other developmental tasks. 
One of the most effective ways for babies to acclimate is through skin-to-skin contact (SSC). The baby in a diaper is placed on the mother’s bare chest so that the frontal body contact is skin-to-skin. (babies on their mother’s chest).  UNICEF outlines many Benefits of skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby:
- Calms and relaxes both mother and infant
- Regulating babies’ heart rate and breathing to help them adjust better to life outside the womb
- Stimulates digestion and interest in eating
- Regulates temperature
- Enables the mother’s friendly bacteria to colonize the baby’s skin, providing protection against infection
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and parenting 
Research suggests that in addition to the positive effects of skin-to-skin contact on infant development, there may be secondary benefits to mothers’ long-term mental health. 
Newborn Sensorimotor Synergies
When newborns arrive in the world outside the womb, they engage in a myriad of motor behaviors that support their ability to existentially interact with their environment and learn from experience.  Motor behaviors present at birth are organized to accommodate changing sensorimotor synergies Situations and events in the environment. Neonates engage in three survival behaviors: the suck-swallow-breath synergy and head turning to free the airway. 
These motor behaviors are organized into sensory-motor synergies (also known as motor patterns) that allow adaptation to changing situations and events in the environment.  Previously, these synergies were described as reflexes, but recent studies have shown that these synergies Involves complex movement patterns that adapt to constant changes in the environment. 
- Rooting is when babies tend to turn their heads to touch stimuli applied to the area around the mouth, which helps to turn and lock onto the nipple for feeding.
- Traditionally, rooting has been thought of as a stereotyped response to a particular stimulus, in other words, it has been thought of as a simple reflex. But studies have shown that the rooting response adapts to the environment, for example, when a baby or infant touches itself, the rooting response is not triggered. 
- Movements of the baby’s head and mouth occurred simultaneously with whole-body movements, suggesting that foraging is more than a reflex. 
- Sucking is another neonatal behavior that involves a complex interplay of muscular contractions that adapt to the environment. Babies adjust their sucking pressure to the milk flow by sensing the incoming flow. “Craig and Lee (1999) found that newborns adjust their sucking Showing in a precise and forward-looking way that they anticipated the coming milk flow. “
- Sucking has two phases
- Creates a temporary vacuum in the oral area
- releasing the milk from the nipple
- Suck adaptation can also be seen when newborns suck for comfort rather than food. 
3. Head turning to keep airway clear
- The ability to lift and turn the head to keep the airway open is another sensory-motor synergy that is present from birth. 
- When placed face down on a support surface, the newborn lifts and turns the head to clear the airway. 
- Lifting and turning the head not only involves the neck muscles, it also requires some adjustment of the upper body and trunk muscles to provide some stability to support the neck movement. 
Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale
Pam Versfeld covers this assessment scale in her newborn behavior course. Dr. T Berry Brazelton, with colleagues at Harvard University, has studied infant behavior for decades and developed the widely used Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS). 
You can read more about it here via the link below:
- Brazelton Institute | Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS)
- Brazelton Centre UK
Or you can watch these short videos for a better understanding. The third video shows the complete NBAS exam. It’s in French, but even if you don’t know French, the demo will give you a good idea of the whole exam.
Throughout the day, babies cycle through several stages of arousal, some fast and some slow. American pediatrician T.B. Brazelton described six states of arousal (behavioral states) in newborns. 
There are 2 sleeping states, an intermediate state and 3 awake states:
- Quiet sleep – In this protected state, babies are able to block out disturbing stimuli such as ambient noise. 
- Active sleep/rapid eye movement (REM) – The baby’s breathing is shallow and irregular, with periodic sucking and writhing movements. In this state, external influences may disturb the baby more. When awakened, the baby either wakes up drowsily, fusses, or struggles Fall into a deep sleep. 
A state between wakefulness and sleepiness.  This transient state often occurs when the infant wakes up or falls back to sleep. The baby writhes, opens and closes eyes irregularly, and may whimper or cry. when the baby is trying to get back to sleep or wake up.  Light stimulation such as shaking them can help them fall asleep easily or wake them up slowly. 
As waking infants transition between 3 different states, this affects the organization of their spontaneous movements and the behavior of seeing and listening
- Alert but quiet state – little movement. Often associated with visual attention to the infant’s own hand or the face of a social partner, as well as other interesting visual stimuli in the environment.  Ideal time to study. They are happy and calm and focused. ready to stimulate and Interactive
- Alert and Active State – Infant makes vigorous spontaneous movements of the extremities.  Extend the kick and rotate the arm.
- Waking and distressed state – The baby’s movements are constant and very forceful. Tenseness and tremors may occur in the extremities. Parents and caregivers usually move in to comfort the baby. 
- All healthy young babies cry and fuss for no apparent reason – sometimes inconsolably and often. This is more common in the late afternoon and evening.
- Excessive crying in babies is called “colic,” and was previously blamed on indigestion pain.
- Babies cry a lot during the first 6 weeks of life. 
- The number of babies crying during the first trimester has been linked to tiredness and fatigue in new mothers. 
- Crying is a normal release from an overloaded nervous system after a busy day. Babies may need a lot of fuss. 
- Picking up and comforting the baby every 10-15 minutes before putting the baby down is a good way to deal with this fussiness. 
Infant Distress Cues
Parents and caregivers need to learn to recognize specific behavioral cues in babies. At the same time, they are learning how to respond in a way that meets the baby’s needs. These different ways of responding are determined by the temperament of the infant.
There are at least six different calls—hunger, pain, boredom, fatigue, discomfort, and attention-seeking—each with unique characteristics. Parents usually learn to distinguish the different cries and learn how to respond in an appropriate way.
Neonatal temperament describes how a baby responds to and responds to stimuli. Their emotions and reactions are the result of nature (innate personality) and nurture (parenting style). Researchers Thomas and Chess report that when a child’s personality fits their They will do better than children whose personality and environment are out of tune.  Temperament in infancy is often defined as the biologically based individual differences in attention motor and emotional responses and self-regulation exhibited Different environmental responses to stimuli. 
Temperament traits can be grouped into the following nine categories:
- Activity level: How active the baby is
- Rhythmic: How regular is the baby’s sleep/wake and feeding routines
- Distraction: how easily babies get distracted from what they are doing
- Approach/withdraw: Infants’ responses to new experiences
- Adaptability: How Babies Adapt to New Environments
- Attention span/permanence: Babies’ persistence in the face of challenges
- Reaction intensity: how intense the baby’s reactions and emotions are
- Sensitivity: How sensitive the baby is to tastes, textures, and noises
- Emotional quality: whether the infant has pleasant positive emotions most of the time, or unpleasant negative emotions most of the time 
Some children are naturally more cautious, and they react cautiously to new people and situations. They are slow to respond to new situations, become easily distressed, and take longer to recover when upset. [twenty one]
Highly sensitive wary/fearful babies may be fussy and react strongly to any change, such as undressing. They have difficulty calming down and may react strongly to strangers or unfamiliar situations. [twenty one]
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