What is STNR?
In Sally Goddard Blythe’s book, The Well-Balanced Child, STNR is present for a brief period immediately after birth and then reappears from about six to nine months of age. It theninhibits or “disappears” around nine to 11 months.
This important reflex causes upper and lower sections of the body to perform opposite movements. It helps the baby prepare to creep and crawl. Goddard states that the creeping stage of development is extremely important. Weight bearing on the hands and knees prepares the spine for standing up so they can balance with walking. The child’s vision and balance learn to operate together in this phase of a baby’s life as the discover gravity. Hand-eye coordination that develops during this phase results in better reading and writing skills for later in life.
In The Well Balanced Child, it also describes how many children who experience some difficulties with both reading and writing did not crawl or creep in the first year of life. If a child has retained the STNR primitive reflex, the child may continue to show signs of poor muscle tone, W-sitting, balance and coordination issues, and learning problems in the classroom.
Signs of retained STNR
If the child still has the STNR after they are more than a year old, you may see the following signs:
• Slouching posture
• Poor hand-eye coordination (difficulty playing catch)
• Clumsy while eating
• Can’t sit still in a chair, legs are wrapped around chair or they prefer to stand
• Difficulties copying instructions (for example, looking at the whiteboard in school and copying notes to a piece of paper).
How to test for the STNR
To determine if a child has retained the STNR primitive reflex, try this simple test. Have the child get down on all fours (hands and knees). Ensure that their back is flat like a table. You will want to sit in front of them (facing their head so you can watch their movement).
Instruct the child to move their head downward toward their chest so they are looking at their feet and have them hold that position for 10 seconds.
Then have the child bring their head up and lean it back so they are looking toward the ceiling and have them hold that position for 10 seconds. As the child completes this exercise, watch their back.
If their back arches or dips at any time while they are completing these exercises, it means they may have retained the STNR primitive reflex and this could be the cause for W-sitting and other postural issues.
There are multiple effects of the retained STNR that can impact your child’s learning. If you feel your child has STNR you may need to seek additional help and intervention.