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Social Sci LibreTexts

4: Infancy

  • Page ID
    3005
    • 4.1: Introduction to Infancy
      Contemporary educators, healthcare providers, and parents have focused on most heavily on the period of life from birth to about two years of age because changes during this time are so dramatic and so noticeable and perhaps because we have assumed that what happens during these years provides a foundation for one’s life to come. However, it has been argued that the significance of development during these years has been overstated.
    • 4.2: Physical Development
      For the first few days of life, infants typically lose about 5 percent of their body weight as they eliminate waste and get used to feeding.  Some of the most dramatic physical change that occurs during this period is in the brain. Infants are equipped with a number of reflexes which are involuntary movements in response to stimulation. The womb is a dark environment void of visual stimulation. Consequently, vision is the most poorly developed sense at birth.
    • 4.3: Nutrition
      Breast milk is considered the ideal diet for newborns. It has the right amount of calories, fat, and protein to support overall physical and neurological development, it provides a source of iron more easily absorbed in the body than the iron found in dietary supplements, it provides a resistance against many diseases, it is more easily digested by infants than is formula, and it helps babies make a transition to solid foods more easily than if bottle fed.
    • 4.4: Cognitive Development
      Piaget describes intelligence in infancy as sensorimotor or based on direct, physical contact. Infants taste, feel, pound, push, hear, and move in order to experience the world.
    • 4.5: Language Development
      Do newborns communicate? Certainly, they do. They do not, however, communicate with the use of language. Instead, they communicate their thoughts and needs with body posture (being relaxed or still), gestures, cries, and facial expressions. A person who spends adequate time with an infant can learn which cries indicate pain and which ones indicate hunger, discomfort, or frustration.
    • 4.6: Psychosocial Development and Attachment
      At birth, infants exhibit two emotional responses: attraction and withdrawal. They show attraction to pleasant situations that bring comfort, stimulation, and pleasure. And they withdraw from unpleasant stimulation such as bitter flavors or physical discomfort. At around two months, infants exhibit social engagement in the form of social smiling as they respond with smiles to those who engage their positive attention.
    • 4.7: Temperament
      Temperament is an inborn quality noticeable soon after birth. Most children do not have their temperament clinically measured, but categories of temperament have been developed and are seen as useful in understanding and working with children. These categories include easy or flexible, slow to warm up or cautious, difficult or feisty, and undifferentiated. Temperament doesn’t change dramatically as we grow up, but we may learn how to work around and manage our temperamental qualities.
    • 4.8: Psychosocial Development
      Rapid physical growth, neurological development, language acquisition, the movement from hands on to mental learning, an expanding emotional repertoire, and the initial conceptions of self and others make the first two years of life very exciting. These abilities are shaped into more sophisticated mental processes, self-concepts, and social relationships during the years of early childhood.
    • Lecture: Infancy
    • Slideshow: Infancy

    Thumbnail: Eight month-old infant; as a common feature eyes are usually larger compared to the face. Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 4.0; Avsararas).