Stages of Child Development: Growth and Development During Infancy

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Growth and Development During Infancy

  • Infancy has been defined as a period between birth and one year. At birth, infants display a set of inherited reflexes involving sucking, blinking and grasping. They are sensitive to light-dark visual contrasts and movements and show a noticeable preference for gazing at the human face.

  • They also begin to recognize the human voice. During their first year, infants start to develop skills and competencies that become the foundation which they will use for the rest of their lives.

  • Let us go through the milestones attained by infants in the domains of development from birth to one year.

Milestones of Prenatal to Infancy

Infants grow at an amazing speed during their first year of life. Infants not only grow in the physical aspect like height and weight but also go through major achievements known as developmental milestones.

Birth to Three Months

  • Motor skills: A newborn’s head is unsteady at the beginning. By the age of three months, an infant tries to lift the head and turn it from one side to the other while lying on the stomach. Stretching and kicking by the baby are likely to get more vigorous. If you offer a toy, you will see the infant might grasp it and hold on tight for a few moments.

  • Hearing: Within a few weeks from birth, the infant might respond to sounds by getting quiet or with a smile. Expect the infant to respond to the sound of the mother or other familiar voices.

  • Vision: The infant will start to focus on the mother’s face during feeding. By the age of three months, they might be easily distracted by an interesting sight or sound. Young children also begin to observe complex designs, various colors, sizes and shapes.

  • Communication: Infants are able to communicate their needs by crying. By the age of two months, the infants smile on purpose, blow bubbles and coo when anyone talks or plays with them. They might even imitate facial expressions of people around them. Infants at this age also try to reach out to known adults when they need attention, security or comfort.

4 Months to 6 Months

Infants become more aware of the surrounding world as they start moving from third month of their lives. They begin exploring the environment around them with more curiosity.

  • Motor skills: The infant’s arms and legs wiggle and kick more purposefully now. You might notice that infants of this age start rocking on their stomach and eventually rollover. They gain muscle strength and have better head control. Most of the infants of this age raise their heads when lying face down. They might even try to push themselves up or bear weight on their legs. By the age of six months, many infants begin sitting without support. Tip toeing or crawling follows soon after.

  • Eye-hand coordination: Infants at this age can grasp an object like a rattle. They also try to hold fingers of people around them. Anything within the infant’s reach is likely to end up in the mouth. You might notice infants pull objects closer. This requires them to coordinate what they see and hold. Following this, they start transferring objects from one hand to the other.

  • Vision: Infants at this age begin to distinguish between strange and familiar faces. You might notice that infants concentrate on toys, observe their fingers and toes and stare at their reflection. Most infants of this age turn the head toward bright colors. If a ball is rolled across the floor, the infant will turn the head to follow the action.

  • Communication: Infants at this age often begin to babble, gurgle and laugh. They respond to and imitate the facial expressions and sounds of others around them. They might babble and then pause, waiting for others to respond. There is increase in memory and attention span. They begin to pick up the components of speech and the way words form sentences. They even start recognizing their names.

7 Months to 10 Months

7 Months to 10 Months

7 Months to 10 Months

Increased capacities in almost all domains of development allow infants to do more with their bodies. They start to interact better with the objects and with people around them.

  • Motor skills: By this age, most infants can roll over in both directions even in their sleep. Some infants can sit on their own, while others need a little support. One might notice that infants begin to rock back and forth, or even crawl across the room. Some infants start making efforts to pull themselves to a standing position.

  • Eye- hand coordination: Infants start showing more refined fine motor skills. Most infants at this age transfer objects from one hand to another or directly to their mouths. Pulling objects closer with hands gives way to more- refined movements, such as picking up objects with just the thumb and forefinger. This improving dexterity helps the infant to handle a spoon and soft finger foods.

  • Communication: Infants now communicate through sounds, gestures and facial expressions. One can hear plenty of laughing and squealing from them. Infants might even respond to their own name. They can distinguish emotions by tone of voice. They also try to repeat the sounds they hear.

10 Months to 12 Months

As children reach their first birthday, their actions become goal oriented and they display relative precision in executing their plans.

  • Motor skills: Most infants at this age can sit without help and pull themselves to a standing position. Infants might use various forward movements to explore new territory. Creeping, crawling and cruising along the furniture will eventually lead to walking. By 12 months, the infants might take their first steps without support.

  • Eye-hand coordination: Most infants at this age can feed themselves finger foods by grasping items between the thumb and forefinger. They bang blocks or other objects together to enjoy the sound that results and stack objects or nest them inside one another.

  • Cognitive skills: You have read in the lesson ‘Domains of Development’ that infants understanding of object permanence improves, they are able to easily find hidden objects. Although they might cry if the mother is leaving the room, the infant soon begins to realize that the mother exists even when she is out of sight. They start imitating actions at this age like brushing their hair, pushing buttons on the remote control, or pretending to talk on the phone like adults around them do. Infants are able to look at the correct object, such as a toy, when mentioned.

  • Language: Most infants at this age respond to simple verbal requests and understand words for familiar people and events. They become skilled at various gestures, such as shaking their head to convey, ‘no’, pointing at something that they want to reach out to, or waving.

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