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The sucking reflex seems to belong with the rooting reflex. It is present before birth, and also aids in breastfeeding. It causes the child to instinctively begin to suck on anything that touches the roof of their mouth. This reflex is common to mammals, and specifically designed to express milk through the breastfeeding process. There are two stages to the action.
- The first is the expression stage, which is activated when the nipple is placed between a child's lips and touches their palate. They will instinctively press it between their tongue and palate to draw out the milk.
- The second phase is the actual milking action, which involves a tongue movement from areola to nipple that coaxes milk from the mother to be swallowed by the child.
The coordination on of these movements with breathing and swallowing is instinctual, but not a "perfect" reflex. Children and mothers often have to learn how to work together in order to accomplish efficient and painless feedings.