How does the human body and nervous systems develop? What developmental milestones must infants aqccomplish? What sensory capabilities do infants possess?
Human development begins at conception. This occurs when the sperm reaches and enters the ovum, forming a zygote. Since fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube, the embryo travels through the fallopian tube to reach the uterus where implantation occurs. During this period, the cells of the zygote undergo rapid cell division (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). The zygote will normally enter the uterus within 3 to 5 days after fertilization. In the uterus, the cells continue dividing, forming a hollow ball made of cells known as the blastocyst. After implanting on the walls of the, the blastocyst continues to develop and form an embryo (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). The embryo is attached to the placenta. This occurs within 9 days after fertilization. Within 12 days, the amniotic sac develops which contains the amniotic fluid.
The amniotic sac is where the embryo develops. From second week to beginning of third week, the cardio-vascular system develops and begins to pump blood at the end of the period. From the 21st day, the nervous system begins to develop. In the fourth week, the central nervous system divides into the four major parts including the spinal cord, midbrain, forebrain, and the hindbrain (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016). The brain and the spinal cord continue to undergo development throughout the pregnancy. In the fifth week, the limbs begin to appear as buds. The eyes also start to develop. In the 6th week, the embryo begins to straighten and take a human shape. By 8th week, the embryo has all external and internal features of a human being. Growth and development continues throughout pregnancy and after birth. After birth, the brain continues to develop and mature with age up to adolescence.
There are certain developmental milestones that an infant must accomplish. Developmental milestones are categorized into four major groups, which include cognitive development, language development, physical development, and social and emotional development (Miller & Stoeckel, 2016). Infants go through these developmental milestones in a progressive manner. However, this does not occur at the same pace among all infants. In the first month, most of the behavior is reflexive in nature. Various reflexes include startle reflex, stepping reflex, grasping reflex, and mouthing reflexes (Miller & Stoeckel, 2016). These indicate physical development. Physical milestones are also exhibited through kicking the legs, moving the head, sitting up by themselves, and other behaviors. Between 1 to 3 months, the infant may begin to coo. This shows language development. From 4 to 7 months, the baby may develop a strong attachment to the mother, which indicates social and emotional development. Within the 1st month, infants may watch a slowly moving object. They may show preference towards their mother’s voice. This indicates cognitive development.
Infants have various sensory capabilities, which often develop right after birth. In the first month, the infant has various reflexes as outlined above. Within the 1st to 4th month, the infant can focus the eyes on a slowly moving object, they can detect changes in lighting, move their head to observe different colors, they can respond to voices in a particular way, and they can respond to touch. Infants can respond to touch when tickled on their feet.
What are the fundamental features of Piaget’s theories of cognitive development? How do infants process information? How is infant intelligence measured? By what processes do children learn to use language?
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development asserts that growth and development in children occurs through four distinct stages. These stages include sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage (Anderson, Gerrish, Layton, Morgan, Tilstone, & Willliams, 2013). Infants move through these four stages. The knowledge gained in one stage is critical in the next stage, as children make use of this knowledge. The sensorimotor stage occurs between birth and two years of age. In this stage, the infant makes use of direct sensory and also motor contact (Anderson et al., 2013). During this stage, the child develops object permanence. Earlier actions involve reflexive behavior. Reflex behavior becomes gradually replaced by willful activity. The second stage is the preoperational stage, which occurs between 2 and 6 years of age. At this stage, the child develops the use of symbols, through either words or images. The child is egocentric but lacks logical thinking (Anderson et al., 2013). Other characteristics in this stage include centration, animism, and inability to conserve. Centration involves focusing on salient aspects of something while ignoring other aspects. Animism is the belief that nonliving objects have feelings. Inability to conserve occurs where children may think that the amount of an object does change when its size or shape changes.
The third stage is concrete operational stage, which children go through between 7 and 12 years. This stage is characterize by the ability to conserve and logical thinking (Anderson et al., 2013). Logical thinking manifests through ability to add and subtract figures. Children in this stage can solve a variety of mental problems. The last stage is the formal operational stage, which begins from 12 years and runs through adulthood. This stage is characterized by abstract thinking. The adolescent can think in hypothetical terms.
Infants process information through memory and imitation. For instance, 2 months old infants can recall for one week, while those older than 3 months can store information for up to 7 weeks. Older infants can be able to encode and retrieve information. Measuring infant intelligence involves examining how the infant progresses through the various developmental milestones. Infant intelligence scales may measure various aspects such as sensory development, motor development, language, and social/emotional skills (Shaffer & Kipp, 2014). The Bayley scale is one of infant intelligence scales that examine the progress of an infant through various developmental milestones. Children learn to use language through imitation of their caregivers and through reinforcement. Reinforcement is a form of learning, often by the caregivers.
What sort of mental life do infants have? What is attachment in infancy and how does it affect a person’s future social competence? What individual differences distinguish one infant from another?
Available research indicates that infants have an active mental life. Right from birth, infants begin trying to understand their environment. Infants show evidence of having complex capacities in various domains of knowledge. For instance, an infant will stare at an object within 15 inches. Infants can distinguish tastes and even smells. For example, an infant can recoil due to an unpleasant taste. As the infant advances in age, they begin making sounds. These reflect creative processes and abstract structures that characterize even the mind of an adult. Moreover, learning during childhood and the ability to go through the developmental milestones has a significant impact on later development of the child.
Attachment in infancy refers to an emotional bond that develops between an infant and another person such as a caregiver and that lasts for a long period. Attachment has significant social impacts on a person’s future social competence. Disruptions in attachment between the mother or caregiver and the infant may lead to developmental problems, mainly in the form of behavioral and emotional problems (Levine & Munsch, 2011). Bowlby’s internal working models help in predicting the long-term effects that may result from disruptive attachment. Infants who undergo successfully attachment with their mothers generally show stability in emotions and behavior since they have someone to lean on during difficult times.
When the infant faces problems, he/she is able to get comfort from the caregivers. This leads to internalization, such that even during adulthood the individual can soothe himself or herself when confronted by challenges. In other words, infants in secure attachments develop the skills needed to deal with problems or challenges that may come their way. According to Levine & Munsch (2011), security of attachment during infancy is a good predictor of later attachment outcomes. This is because attachment is a continuous process in families. Although there are changes as times goes, these changes are not drastic.
Various individual differences distinguish one infant from another. Infants do not progress through the developmental milestones at the same pace. Some may even revisit some developmental milestones. There are variations in motor abilities, cognitive ability, language development, emotional differences, learning differences, and in among other areas.
What do you think are parents most salient concerns during the physical, intellectual and emotional development during infancy and what can they do to stimulate these areas. Just give three examples for each—-the physical, intellectual and emotional developmental aspects
It is common for parents to worry about the healthy development of their infants. Parents constantly worry about the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of their children. With regard to physical development, parents may worry about their infants’ ability to uses their arms and legs appropriately, their ability to see and hear, and their ability to use their hands and fingers correctly. In terms of intellectual development, parents may be concerned with their children’s intelligence levels, their ability to perform age appropriate tasks, and learning to do things by themselves. With regard to emotional development, parents may be concerned with their children’s ability to interact or get a lot with others, their behavior, and their mood.
Anderson, A., Gerrish, R., Layton, L., Morgan, J., Tilstone, C., & Willliams, A. (2013). Child development and teaching pupils with special educational needs. United Kingdom, UK: Routledge.
Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2016). Human development: A life-span view. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Levine, L. E., & Munsch, J. (2011). Child development: An active learning approach. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.
Miller, M. A. & Stoeckel, P. R. (2016). Client education: theory and practice. Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Shaffer, D. R., & Kipp, K. (2014). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Australia: Wadsworth.