6.1: Chapter 10- Physical Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood
- Page ID
Chapter 10 Learning Objectives
- Summarize overall physical growth during infancy.
- Describe the growth in the brain during infancy.
- Explain infant sleep.
- Identify newborn reflexes.
- Compare gross and fine motor skills.
- Contrast the development of the senses in newborns.
- Describe the habituation procedure.
- Explain the merits of breastfeeding and when to introduce more solid foods.
- Discuss the nutritional concerns of marasmus and kwashiorkor.
Overall Physical Growth
The Brain in the First Two Years
Callstack: at (Bookshelves/Social_Work_and_Human_Services/Remix:_Human_Behavior_and_the_Social_Environment_I_(Tyler)/06:_Development_in_Infancy_and_Toddlerhood/6.01:_Chapter_10-_Physical_Development_in_Infancy_and_Toddlerhood), /content/body/div/p/@function, line 1, column 1
where neural connections are reduced thereby making those that are used much stronger. It is thought that pruning causes the brain to function more efficiently, allowing for mastery of more complex skills (Kolb & Whishaw, 2011). The experience will shape which of these connections are maintained and which of these are lost. Ultimately, about 40 percent of these connections will be lost (Webb, Monk, and Nelson, 2001). Blooming occurs during the first few years of life, and pruning continues through childhood and into adolescence in various areas of the brain.
a coating of fatty tissues around the axon of the neuron (Carlson, 2014). Myelin helps insulate the nerve cell and speed the rate of transmission of impulses from one cell to another. This enhances the building of neural pathways and improves coordination and control of movement and thought processes. The development of myelin continues into adolescence but is most dramatic during the first several years of life.
the thin outer covering of the brain involved in voluntary activity and thinking. The cortex is divided into two hemispheres, and each hemisphere is divided into four lobes, each separated by folds known as fissures. If we look at the cortex starting at the front of the brain and moving over the top (see Figure 3.3), we see first the frontal lobe (behind the forehead), which is responsible primarily for thinking, planning, memory, and judgment. Following the frontal lobe is the parietal lobe, which extends from the middle to the back of the skull and which is responsible primarily for processing information about touch. Next is the occipital lobe, at the very back of the skull, which processes visual information. Finally, in front of the occipital lobe, between the ears, is the temporal lobe, which is responsible for hearing and language (Jarrett, 2015).
Although the brain grows rapidly during infancy, specific brain regions do not mature at the same rate. Primary motor areas develop earlier than primary sensory areas, and the prefrontal cortex, that is located behind the forehead, is the least developed (Giedd, 2015). As the prefrontal cortex matures, the child is increasingly able to regulate or control emotions, to plan activities, strategize, and have better judgment. This is not fully accomplished in infancy and toddlerhood but continues throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
Lateralization is the process in which different functions become localized primarily on one side of the brain. For example, in most adults the left hemisphere is more active than the right during language production, while the reverse pattern is observed during tasks involving visuospatial abilities (Springer & Deutsch, 1993). This process develops over time, however, structural asymmetries between the hemispheres have been reported even in fetuses (Chi, Dooling, & Gilles, 1997; Kasprian et al., 2011) and infants (Dubois et al., 2009).
Lastly, neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change, both physically and chemically, to enhance its adaptability to environmental change and compensate for an injury. The control of some specific bodily functions, such as movement, vision, and hearing, is performed in specified areas of the cortex, and if these areas are damaged, the individual will likely lose the ability to perform the corresponding function. The brain’s neurons have a remarkable capacity to reorganize and extend themselves to carry out these particular functions in response to the needs of the organism, and to repair any damage. As a result, the brain constantly creates new neural communication routes and rewires existing ones. Both environmental experiences, such as stimulation and events within a person’s body, such as hormones and genes, affect the brain’s plasticity. So too does age. Adult brains demonstrate neuroplasticity, but they are influenced less extensively than those of infants (Kolb & Fantie, 1989; Kolb & Whishaw, 2011).
Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID): Each year in the United States, there are about 3,500 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID). These deaths occur among infants less than one-year-old and have no immediately obvious cause (CDC, 2019). The three commonly reported types of SUID are:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): SIDS is identified when the death of a healthy infant occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and medical and forensic investigation findings (including an autopsy) are inconclusive. SIDS is the leading cause of death in Figure 3.4 75 infants 1 to 12 months old, and approximately 1,400 infants died of SIDS in 2017 (CDC, 2019). Because SIDS is diagnosed when no other cause of death can be determined, possible causes of SIDS are regularly researched. One leading hypothesis suggests that infants who die from SIDS have abnormalities in the area of the brainstem responsible for regulating breathing (Weekes-Shackelford & Shackelford, 2005).
- Unknown Cause: The sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained because a thorough investigation was not conducted, and the cause of death could not be determined. In 2017, 1300 infants died from unknown causes (CDC, 2019).
- Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed: Reasons for accidental suffocation include: Suffocation by soft bedding, another person rolling on top of or against the infant while sleeping, an infant being wedged between two objects such as a mattress and wall, and strangulation such as when an infant’s head and neck become caught between crib railings. In 2017, 900 infants died from accidental suffocation and strangulation.
Should infants be sharing the bed with parents?
From Reflexes to Voluntary Movements
Table 3.1 Some Common Infant Reflexes
from the floor and placing them in containers. By 9 months, an infant can also watch a moving object, reach for it as it approaches, and grab it.
Vision: The womb is a dark environment void of visual stimulation. Consequently, vision is one of the most poorly developed senses at birth, and time is needed to build those neural pathways between the eyes and the brain (American Optometric Association [AOA], 2019). Newborns typically cannot see further than 8 to 10 inches away from their faces (AOA, 2019). An 8-week old’s vision is 20/300. This means an object 20 feet away from an infant has the same clarity as an object 300 feet away from an adult with normal vision. By 3-months visual acuity has sharpened to 20/200, which would allow them the see the letter E at the top of a standard eye chart (Hamer, 2016). As a result, the world looks blurry to young infants (Johnson & deHaan, 2015).
- One-month-olds have difficulty disengaging their attention and can spend several minutes fixedly gazing at a stimulus (Johnson & deHaan, 2015).
- Aslin (1981) found that when tracking an object visually, the eye movements of newborns and one-month olds are not smooth but saccadic, that is step-like jerky movements. Aslin also found their eye movements lag behind the object’s motion. This means young infants do not anticipate the trajectory of the object. By two months of age, their eye movements are becoming smoother, but they still lag behind the motion of the object and will not achieve this until about three to four months of age (Johnson & deHaan, 2015).
- Newborns also orient more to the visual field toward the side of the head, than to the visual field on either side of the nose (Lewis, Maurer, & Milewski, 1979). By two to three months, stimuli in both fields are now equally attended to (Johnson & deHaan, 2015).
Hearing: The infant’s sense of hearing is very keen at birth, and the ability to hear is evidenced as soon as the seventh month of prenatal development. Newborns prefer their mother’s voices over another female when speaking the same material (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980). Additionally, they will register in utero specific information heard from their mother’s voice.
were 7 months pregnant. The fetuses had been exposed to the stories an average of 67 times or 1.5 hours. When the experimental infants were tested, the target stories (previously heard) were more reinforcing than the novel story as measured by their rate of sucking. However, for control infants, the target stories were not more reinforcing than the novel story indicating that the experimental infants had heard them before.
the sounds that are not in the language around them diminishes rapidly (Cheour-Luhtanen, et al., 1995).
Touch and Pain: Immediately after birth, a newborn is sensitive to touch and temperature, and is also highly sensitive to pain, responding with crying and cardiovascular responses (Balaban & Reisenauer, 2013). Newborns who are circumcised, which is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis, without anesthesia experience pain as demonstrated by increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, decreased oxygen in the blood, and a surge of stress hormones (United States National Library of Medicine, 2016). Research has demonstrated that infants who were circumcised without anesthesia experienced more pain and fear during routine childhood vaccines. Fortunately, today many local pain killers are currently used during circumcision.
Taste and Smell: Studies of taste and smell demonstrate that babies respond with different facial expressions, suggesting that certain preferences are innate. Newborns can distinguish between sour, bitter, sweet, and salty flavors and show a preference for sweet flavors. Newborns also prefer the smell of their mothers. An infant only 6 days old is significantly more likely to turn toward its own mother’s breast pad than to the breast pad of another baby’s mother (Porter, Makin, Davis, & Christensen, 1992), and within hours of birth an infant also shows a preference for the face of its own mother (Bushnell, 2001; Bushnell, Sai, & Mullin, 1989).
Intermodality: Infants seem to be born with the ability to perceive the world in an intermodal way; that is, through stimulation from more than one sensory modality. For example, infants who sucked on a pacifier with either a smooth or textured surface preferred to look at a corresponding (smooth or textured) visual model of the pacifier. By 4 months, infants can match lip movements with speech sounds and can match other audiovisual events. Sensory processes are certainly affected by the infant’s developing motor abilities (Hyvärinen, Walthes, Jacob, Nottingham Chapin, & Leonhardt, 2014). Reaching, crawling, and other actions allow the infant to see, touch, and organize his or her experiences in new ways.
How are Infants Tested: Habituation procedures, that is measuring decreased responsiveness to a stimulus after repeated presentations, have increasingly been used to evaluate infants to study the development of perceptual and memory skills. Phelps (2005) describes a habituation procedure used when measuring the rate of the sucking reflex.
rates of childhood leukemia, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, and a lower risk of SIDS. The USDHHS recommends that mothers breastfeed their infants until at least 6 months of age and that breast milk be used in the diet throughout the first year or two.
HIV are routinely discouraged from breastfeeding as the infection may pass to the infant. Similarly, women who are taking certain medications or undergoing radiation treatment may be told not to breastfeed (USDHHS, 2011).
breastfeeding. Prices for a year’s worth of formula and feeding supplies can cost between $1,500 and $3000 per year (Los Angles County Department of Public Health, 2019). In addition to the formula, costs include bottles, nipples, sterilizers, and other supplies.
- can sit up without needing support
- can hold its head up without wobbling
- shows interest in foods others are eating
- is still hungry after being breastfed or formula-fed
- is able to move foods from the front to the back of the mouth
- is able to turn away when they have had enough
For many infants who are 4 to 6 months of age, breast milk or formula can be supplemented with more solid foods. The first semi-solid foods that are introduced are iron-fortified infant cereals mixed with breast milk or formula. Typically rice, oatmeal, and barley cereals are offered as a number of infants are sensitive to more wheat-based cereals. Finger foods such as toast squares, cooked vegetable strips, or peeled soft fruit can be introduced by 10-12 months. New foods should be introduced one at a time, and the new food should be fed for a few days in a row to allow the baby time to adjust to the new food. This also allows parents time to assess if the child has a food allergy. Foods that have multiple ingredients should be avoided until parents have assessed how the child responds to each ingredient separately. Foods that are sticky (such as peanut butter or taffy), cut into large chunks (such as cheese and harder meats), and firm and round (such as hard candies, grapes, or cherry tomatoes) should be avoided as they are a choking hazard. Honey and corn syrup should be avoided as these often contain botulism spores. In children under 12 months, this can lead to death (Clemson University Cooperative Extension, 2014).
Global Considerations and Malnutrition
in every 13 children in the world suffers from some form of wasting, and the majority of these children live in Asia (34.3 million) and Africa (13.9 million). Wasting can occur as a result of severe food shortages, regional diets that lack certain proteins and vitamins, or infectious diseases that inhibit appetite (Latham, 1997).
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