Development of Newborn Behavior

  • T. Berry Brazelton


As a newborn lies undressed and uncovered immediately after delivery, his color begins to change, with mottled uneven acrocyanosis of his trunk and extremities as the autonomic nervous system attempts to control the loss of body heat. The infant begins to shiver, and then to cry and flail his limbs in jerky, thrusting movements in an effort to maintain his own body temperature. In spite of the enormous demands of a new uncontrolled environment, if one speaks gently and insistently into one ear, his movements become smoother, and slower, and the infant gradually quiets completely. His color improves as his face softens and brightens; his eyes widen and, with an alert look, both eyes turn smoothly to the side from which the voice is coming. His head follows with a sudden smooth turn toward the voice, and he searches for the face of the speaker. His face brightens as he fixes on the eyes of the examiner and listens intently for several minutes. If the examiner moves his face slowly to the baby’s midline and then across to the other side, the newborn will track the examiner’s face, head, and eyes, smoothly turning in an 180° arc.


Premature Infant Auditory Stimulus Newborn Infant Head Turning Alert State 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Berry Brazelton
    • 1
  1. 1.Child Development Unit, Children’s Hospital Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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