Newborn Walking Minutes After Birth Creates Viral Storm

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A hoax, improbable feat, or a natural reaction? Apparently, there is a simple explanation.

  • Viral video with more than 74m views, 343k reactions and 1.7m shares
  • Normal natural “walking/stepping” reflex
  • Babies born with a lot more other natural reflexes

A video featuring what appears to be a newborn walking minutes after birth has caught the attention of millions of social media users. On Friday, it created a viral storm when a Brazilian woman named Arlete Arantes took to Facebook to share the video.

The sensational video shows an infant girl being propped up by a nurse, seemingly able to walk for a few seconds and trying to do so repeatedly, all with the nurse’s assistance.

The nurses were expressing in Portuguese their astonishment at how the baby was walking minutes after her birth.

“Oh my gosh, the girl is walking!”

“Good gracious!”

At the time the undated video was captured, nurses were trying to give her a bath, only for her to move her legs in an attempt to walk. Despite their efforts to get her to sit down, she would make a second try at walking, leading to more startled reactions from the hospital’s staff.

“If you told people what has just happened no one would believe it unless they saw it with their own eyes.”

In three days, the video garnered an amazing 74 million views, 343,000 reactions and almost 1.7 million shares.

But like other viral videos that show something unusual or improbable, many have cast doubt on the authenticity of the video.

There is no information about the identity of the newborn or her mother, though a report from The Sun suggests that the hospital may have been a Santa Cruz hospital located in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

For real or a hoax, apparently newborns do have this natural reflex that goes away soon after a child is born.

According to stuff.co website, Auckland paediatrician Anne Tait says everything happening in the video was perfectly normal.

“It’s not a miracle. It’s the stepping reflex, totally normal,” she said after watching it.

“I have seen that before and I have seen a crawling reflex as well. As a registrar many years ago I saw a baby actually crawl up a mother’s belly to latch on to the breast.”

Tait said the stepping reflex was present at birth. Babies couldn’t support their weight, but if the soles of their feet touched the ground they would attempt to walk by placing one foot in front of another.

“We have a whole lot of primitive reflexes we are born with. The startle reflex, the grasping reflex, the sucking reflex.

“I demonstrate some of them in my clinics with parents. Everyone thinks babies can’t do much but they can actually do quite a lot.”

What to Expect website explains the stepping (aka walking) reflex as something that is triggered when newborns are held upright while their feet are on a flat surface, just as seen on Arantes’ video.

The newborns would then lift one foot, followed by the other, giving them the illusion that they are walking, and this is said to be a reaction that could prepare an infant for their actual first steps later on in their life.

What to Expect also notes that there are other reflexes that prove infants could be “pretty darn smart right from the start”, such as the Moro (aka startle) reflex, where babies tighten their bodies and clench their fists upon hearing loud noises, the root reflex, where an infant could turn toward the direction of a touch when somebody strokes their cheek, and the suck reflex, where babies automatically suck on objects that touch the roof of their mouth.

So even if the Arantes video is a hoax, which even medical experts say is not, we now know that newborns do have the natural “walking”/”stepping” reaction that confounded millions of people.