why do doctors smack babies


Why Do Doctors Smack Babies?

Most people are shocked upon seeing a doctor giving a smack to a baby, followed by loud cries that fill the room. It is a practice that most of us don’t quite understand, but the fact of the matter is that doctors give smacks to babies for a reason.

Assessing The Reflexes

Infants are born with different reflexes that help them develop and grow. Doctors need to assess these reflexes to ensure that the baby’s development is on track. To assess the reflexes, doctors often give babies a light slap on the soles of their feet and hands. This helps doctors determine whether the infant’s reflexes are responsive.

Checking The Hip Joints

Smacking infants is also a standard procedure to assess if the infant has properly developed hip joints. During the examination, the infant’s legs are held apart while he or she is given a gentle tap. Babies tend to move their hips and at times scream in response to the movement or tapping. This helps doctors determine whether the baby has dislocated elements within the hip joint.

Benefits of Smacking Babies

Although most people are alarmed by the practice of smacking babies, it has certain benefits:

  • It helps assess the baby’s development – As discussed earlier, smacking helps doctors assess the baby’s reflexes and the health of the hip joints.
  • It helps babies adapt to their environment – By light tapping, doctors help the baby adapt to changes in their environment. With each tap, the baby’s senses are activated, making them more alert.
  • It reduces the baby’s startle reflex – Babies are born with startle reflex which is triggered by sudden movements or loud sounds. By tapping the baby, the doctor helps the infant become accustomed to their environment, allowing them to respond differently when they sense a danger.


It is true that seeing a baby being smacked by a doctor can be alarming, but this procedure has proven to be beneficial in assessing the baby’s reflexes as well as helping them adapt to their new environment.