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Infant Development

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    Learning Outcome

    explain and recognize stages and milestones in physical, social, emotional, sensory, linguistic, and cognitive development for infants from birth to 15 months old. The objective meets the NAEYC Standard 1a [Knowing and understanding young children’s characteristics and needs, from birth through age 8] for educator preparation and the MA Core Competency 1.A.1 and 1.G.15 at the initial level. You will experience how an infant develops at an individual rate and has a personal approach to learning.

    Why is it important to recognize developmental milestones?

    Key Takeaway

    First, an understanding of child development is critical to developmentally appropriate practice as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009). The three core considerations of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) are:

    1. Age-appropriateness which means recognizing what is typical at each age and stage of development. Milestones are determined by research.
    2. Individual-appropriateness as each child’s rate of development is different.
    3. Social and cultural appropriateness so that the curriculum is meaningful, relevant, and respectful for each child and family.

    Second, as an educator, you identify goals for learning and development that are achievable and challenging. Achievable goals are age-appropriate as defined by developmental milestones. By recognizing milestones you support individualized and intentional curriculum planning to meet each child’s developmental needs.

    Third, recognizing developmental milestones allows you to know when referrals should be made to Early Intervention or to other professionals. As an educator you will likely use screening tools to get a quick look at major developmental milestones across domains, to determine if the child’s development appears to be progressing typically. If a screening shows that a child has not achieved the milestones or indicators typical for her age, these results indicate that further assessment is needed. The primary purpose of screening is to identify any potential concerns.

    DAP in an Infant Room

    • At mealtime, Jill notices that 11-month-old Ryan grabs for a spoon during feedings. According to developmental milestones, Ryan isn’t old enough to feed himself, however, he is determined to try. As the chart shows below this is a sill typical of 12-14-month-old children. She allows him to hold and try using the spoon even though it is doubtful he will achieve the goal of self-feeding. To challenge him, later in the day, Jill gets Ryan a spoon and a bowl to play with to practice the skill. Jill selects materials with Ryan’s specific interests and developmental progress in mind.
    Age Milestone
    6 to 9 months Wants to help with feeding
    Starts holding and mouthing large crackers/cookies
    Plays with spoon; grabs/bangs spoon; puts both ends in mouth
    9 to 13 months Finger feeds soft foods and foods that melt quickly Enjoys finger feeding
    12 to 14 months Dips spoon in food
    Moves spoon to mouth but is messy and spills
    15 to 18 months Scoops food with a spoon and feeds self
    18 to 24 months Wants to feed himself/herself
    2 to 3 years Stabs food with fork
    Uses spoon without spilling
    3 to 5 years Eats by himself/herself

    Guidelines for the Development of Self-Feeding Skills. Super Duper Publications available at:

    How can I learn more about developmental milestones?

    Massachusetts Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers you will notice that the learning guidelines are presented in table format. For each Guideline the indicators are divided into two sections: a) young infant and b) older infant. The indicators describe expected observable behaviors or skills of children which are developmental milestones.

    Participate in a FREE online training

    Watch Me! Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns, to explore tools and best practices for monitoring the development of children in your care and talking about it with their families. The 1-hour, the 4-module course focuses on:

    • Why monitoring children’s development is important
    • Why you have a unique and important role in developmental monitoring
    • How to easily monitor each child’s developmental milestones
    • How to talk with parents about their child’s development
    • List three developmental concerns that early care and education providers should monitor.
    • Identify at least three developmental milestones for the class’s age group.
    • Describe how to use “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” resources in early care and education work with children and parents.
    • Describe two communication strategies to use when talking with families about their child’s development.
  • What are the developmental considerations for infant care?

    • Young infants (0 to 9 months) seek security.
    • Mobile infants (8 to 15 months) are eager to explore.
    1. Infant temperament
    2. States
    3. Reflexes and cues
    4. Feeding
  • Infant Temperament

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