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Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

The symmetrical tonic neck (STNR) reflex helps a baby to push itself up onto hands and knees prior to crawling.  It is present at birth and emerges again from around eight to eleven months. When the baby's head is extended the upper body straightens while the legs bend and when the head flexes the opposite occurs.  This helps to break the influence of the TLR and help the child how to use the upper and lower halves of its body separately.  However, for crawling or walking to occur the STNR also needs to be inhibited. If it remains uninhibited it can affect


- Integration of upper and lower body

- Sitting posture – a tendency to slump when sitting at a table

- Poorly developed muscle tone

- Poor hand-eye coordination

- Ability to sit still and concentrate


Other associated long term effects and indications can be


- Poor posture

- Discomfort when required to sit

- Difficulty sustaining attention

- Difficulty changing focus from far to near distance

- Slow at copying

- Slumping at a desk or table

- Ape-like walk

- Absence of crawling on hand and knees when a baby

- Unusual crawling such as bear walking or bottom shuffling

- Early walking

- W leg position when sitting on the floor

- Clumsy child



from "Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour: A Window into the Child's Mind"  by Sally Goddard (2005) Fern Ridge Press, Eugene

Head on table - a retained STNR?
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