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Primitive Reflex Integration

Retained Rooting Reflex

Rooting Reflex Exercises

The Rooting Reflex is important in helping an infant locate food and breast feed. It develops during pregnancy and continues until the baby is about 4 months old.  You will notice the Rooting Reflex in a newborn if you brush your finger down one side of the mouth. The baby will turn toward the stroke and open the mouth. This is normal but should integrate (disappear) by about 4 months. If it is not properly integrated, it can contribute to problems in speech, writing, eating disorders and Thyroid problems. Be sure to do the Retained Rooting Reflex Test shown below on your child.

Children with eating disorders aggravated by a Retained Rooting Reflex will have a constant urge to have something in their mouth, yet are often sensitive to textures. These ones end up being the ones that are always chewing on something plastic, drools, or struggles to form their words properly. The Retained Rooting Reflex can cause the tongue to lie too far forward in the mouth. This can cause difficulty swallowing and chewing their food.


Retained Rooting Reflex Symptoms

  • Tongue lies too far forward
  • Hyper sensitive around mouth
  • Difficulty with textures and solid foods
  • Thumb sucking
  • Speech and articulation problems
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Dribbling
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Thyroid problems and autoimmune tendency
  • Dexterity problems when talking
  • Even if they don’t display any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to do the quick test on them, as there may be other functions that are affected by it that are still unknown.


The Rooting Reflex is closely related to the Palmar Reflex and the less likely Suck Reflex and Babkin Reflex which are rare and not described here, but will be covered in greater detail in future posts.

Because these reflexes are closely related, the hand and mouth can affect each other. For example it can cause speech problems when writing or poor penmanship when chewing gum.

Rooting Reflex Test

Stroke down around one side of the child’s mouth from nose to chin. Do this three times, moving a little further out each time. Repeat on the other side of the mouth.

Retained Rooting Reflex Test

Look for their mouth or hands to twitch on either side.

If it does, the reflex is most likely still present. Exercise Needed!



Rooting Reflex Exercises