The rooting reflex as an infant feeding cue

Kathryn R. Glodowski, Rachel H. Thompson, Lauren Martel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Experts in infant health and development consider the rooting reflex a cue of a baby's hunger and recommend feeding the infant when this reflex occurs. However, the relation between rooting and infant feeding status has not been well established in the literature. In the current study, seven parents documented the occurrence of their newborns' rooting, crying, and a control reflex (palmar grasp) before, after, and between naturally occurring feedings. For all participants, rooting occurred during a greater percentage of reflex checks prior to feedings, whereas the palmar grasp occurred during a similar percentage of checks across these time periods. These results provide empirical support for the rooting reflex as a feeding cue. However, data for only one dyad suggested a high probability of the rooting reflex occurring without crying during prefeeding checks. Thus, our data do not provide evidence that feeding in response to the rooting reflex would preempt infant crying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-27
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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