Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

The STNR helps babies to get onto their hands and knees, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as the crawling reflex. It helps them to learn how to use the top and bottom halves of their body independently of each other, which is vital for posture, focus and hand eye coordination. When a baby’s head moved towards their chest, their legs straighten and their arms bend. When their head moves away from their chest, their legs bend and then arm straighten. This reflex can also be elicited in a 4-point kneeling position, where flexing the neck may result in bending of the elbows, arching of the back and the hips moving back toward the ankles. The STNR develops at 6-9 months and should integrate at 9-11 months.

When retained, symptoms may include:

  • Poor/hunched posture
  • Walking before crawling
  • May bear walk on hands and knees instead of crawling
  • ‘W’ sitting (knees are in front of the body and feet are out beside the hips)
  • Poor hand eye coordination and difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty with sitting still at a desk, learning to swim or playing ball games