We are all born with primitive reflexes and the swimming reflex is one of them. We’ve covered primitive reflexes in previous weeks – In week 24 we found out that a newborn’s grasp is so strong it can hold its entire weight whilst hanging from its arms and in week 37 we discovered that babies “can skydive”, while in week 46 we found out how to make babies behave like Pez dispensers!
The swimming reflex can be seen when a baby is placed face down into water. They will begin to paddle and kick in a swimming motion. This reflex usually disappears around the 4-6 month mark.
How do we know that this primitive reflex is exhibited at days old? As we’ve covered in other weeks, our history is scattered with experiments of questionable ethical nature, like in week 24 when we found out about the “hanging babies from a stick” experiments. This week is accompanied by a similar, ethically unsound piece of footage from 1932, where we see Johnny at a mere 11 days old exhibiting the swimming reflex.