Startle Reflex – the baby may stiffen slightly, and the arms and legs may jerk a little. The eyebrows may go up and the eyes widen, and the mouth will open a little. This only takes a second or two. Usually this is followed by crying, unless you immediately get to TSK and smile and hug him and tell him, “It is OK!”
What happened inside TSK’s brain and body:
The surprise may have scared TSK and made a chemical called adrenalin come out or “surge” into the blood stream. That was what made the arms shake and stiffen. Adrenalin is a chemical that makes us more alert for a little while. It can make the heart beat faster and make TSK breathe faster. Most babies don’t like adrenalin surges. Often they will then start to cry, and go to the next feeling of Anxiety and Fear, unless you intervene and stop the reaction.
What to do to turn the Surprise reaction into an “OK reaction”:
- Make eye contact with TSK.
- Tell him that everything is OK. Just say it in a normal tone without sounding like you are worried or scared, or sounding like you are feeling sorry for him. TSK will pick up your tone of voice, and if you say “It’s OK, you, poor baby!”, he will think you really are worried. Most of the time you won’t be worried, so there is no reason to make TSK think that you are worried!
- You don’t always have to pick TSK up at these times, but if he has gotten really upset, you probably will need to, so you can comfort him.