Essay, Research Paper: Child Development


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Infants grow at a very rapid rate during the first one and a half years of life.
Developing not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and socially as well,
this development has been evident in providing a strong background for further
development in life. Physical development refers to a baby’s increasing skill
at utilizing various body parts. During development, there are three basic
developmental rules: “Rule one states, that baby’s develop in the head
region first, followed by the upper body, followed by the trunk portion, and
lastly the legs and feet. For example, a baby can hold up their heads first
before they can grab an object with their hand. Second rule refers to motor
skills. Motor skills are the child’s ability to control movement. The two
basic classifications in motor skills are large motor skills and fine motor
skills. Large motor skills deal with all the large muscles, whereas fine motor
skills deal with smaller muscles in the body. The 3rd developmental rule is
Brain development. As the brain develops a child responds more and more to sight
and sound, which prepares them for further development (”
At birth an infant’s vision is limited by the immaturity of the brain, beyond
7-12 inches an infant’s world is a total blur. Infant’s eyes unlike ours do
not contain a fovea. A fovea is the area of the retina in which the images are
focused. Their eye movements are very slow and are jerky at times. They are able
to see color but prefer the sharper contrast of black and white. Although babies
can’t see small objects that are far away, infants can see large objects that
are close up. “An adult’s perfect vision is estimated to be 20/20 and
infant’s vision is estimated to be around 20/600” (psychology, pg 387). By
the end of the first year a baby’s vision nearly matches that of a grown adult
(psychology, pg 387). Newborns actively use their senses from the time that they
are born. When they are little their attention span is very limited. In the
first two months, they can only focus on an edge of an object, however by the
end of the 2nd month they can scan a whole object. This is important because it
shows that a baby’s attention span is very limited and they are not able to
focus on an object for a long period of time ( At the time of
birth newborns can hear soft voices as well as loud voices and can also notice
differences between different sounds that are made. Infants are not able to
listen or hear selectively. When babies hear speech they tend to open their eyes
wider and look for the speaker. Infants love the sounds of children since their
voices are higher in pitch. This is why they like to hear “baby talk” which
is used by most adults all over the world ( In the first 2 weeks
after birth, infants have developed some reflexes. Babies begin to explore their
grasping reflex where they can hold tightly to an object. Many of these
behaviors evolved because they are important for a child’s survival, without
these a child would not be able to physically develop. The absence of reflexes
in a newborn are signals of possible problems in brain development (psychology,
pg 388). Newborns are brought into this world having some sort of reflexes in
order for them to adapt to their surroundings. One of the most basic reflexes is
the rooting reflex. This reflex helps an infant turn its head to any object the
stimulates a cheek, such as a baby bottle for feeding. A newborn also will have
a very strong grasping reflex. If you place your finger in a baby’s finger,
generally anywheres from one-week old and on a baby will have a very strong
grip. Motor skills also allow a baby to sit, crawl, stand, and walk. Some motor
skills such as sitting up come a lot earlier than walking. Cognitive development
relates to the reasoning and logic of an infant. Jean Piaget among all
researchers dedicated his life to a search for the ideas behind cognitive
development. “He was the first person to chart the journey from the simple
reflexes of the newborn to the complex adolescent” (psychology pg. 390).”
Piaget believed that all children’s thinking progresses through the same
stages, in the same order without skipping, or building onto previous stages.
“He also believed that the thinking of infants is different from the thinking
of children and the thinking of children is different from that of an
adolescent” (psychology, pg 390). To explain how infants move to higher
standards of understanding and knowledge Piaget introduced four stages of
cognitive development: sensorimotor (0-18 months) , preoperational (2-7 years),
concrete operational (7-11 years)), and formal operational (over 11 years) (
psychology, pg 390). The first 18 months of development is the sensorimotor. In
this stage infants develop schemas or basic units of knowledge. During this
stage infants can form schemas only of objects that are present. They cannot
think about absent objects because they can’t act on them. Key to the
sensorimotor intelligence is the emergence of what Piaget called the object
concept, or the concept of object permanence. According to Piaget, a very young
infant does not seem to recognize that objects have a permanent existence
outside of his or her interaction with it. Early in infancy, from birth to
around 4 months of age babies will naturally look at a toy, follow it with their
eyes and try to grasp it. As soon as the object is out of sight babies mentally
think it know longer exists. They do not have the concept of knowing it’s
there, if it’s out of sight. For example, if an Infant drops a toy they
mentally think it’s no longer there, because they have not yet acquired the
knowledge to look beyond what they see. Infants will begin to develop object
permanence at around 4 months. Also, at this part they are beginning to learn
that a disappearing object may still exist. Infants between 4- 8 months not only
begin to turn their heads to follow a moving object, but continue to look along
it’s path after is have vanished, however they will not search for it. From
about 8-12 months infants for the first time searches manually for an object
that disappears out of their sight. When children reaches this stage they can
follow all the visible movements of an object (Psychology, pg 391). Social and
emotional learning is an important concept for parents to be aware of. A
nurturing environment can build pathways that encourage emotional stability,
while repeated stress may create many problems in further development. Infants
learn from the people around them the most. Infants learn how to handle a
situation through what other people are doing. During the first hour after birth
an emotional tie begins. From an early age infants are receptive to the people
around them. They prefer to look at children and more at attractive faces.
Infants also socially communicate through their feelings, not only by crying and
screaming, but more subtly. Turning away and sucking their thumbs can be an
indication that they want to be left alone. A baby that smiles and is looking
around are generally showing signs that they want to interact with others. Not
responding to an infant’s emotional sign can slow down their social
development. It’s at this point that they also develop a sense a trust. This
strong sense of trust is the foundation for a lifetime. Without this a baby may
have problems communicating with others later on in their development. Often at
5 through 7 months infants also develop a “fear” or “shyness” of
strangers. This is completely natural and often is a result of the development
of object permanence. Infants at this age will sometimes cling to their parents
and not want to be touched by people who they see as being unfamiliar (
From 0-4 months babies show the majority of their emotions through crying. They
have many cries in which they show different emotions. Over time parents can
tell the difference between them and know what they want through each cry. From
4-8 months infants begin to express a wider range of emotions. Pleasure,
happiness, fear, and frustration are shown through gurgles, cools, and wails.
They also show movements such as kicking, arm waving, rocking and smiling. From
8-18 months it’s at this time they develop a sense of self. They begin to
recognize their image in a mirror and start to become more and more independent.
Babies at this stage have a wide range of emotional states. One minute they
could be happy and playing and the next minute they could be kicking and
screaming ( Moral development begins early in an infant’s
life. An infant enters this world as an immoral being. Moral develop depends on
the type of training and attention an infant gets through it’s parent’s. If
they are disciplined early enough in age they will grow up knowing things that
are right and wrong. If a parent ignores a child and lets them think that the
bad things are ok to do then they grow up having no morals taught through their
parents. Children most likely will first learn to respond to the words such as
“no” and “hot”. Building onto Piaget’s work, Lawrence Kohlberg
believes that there are 3 stages to moral development. These are preconventional,
conventional, and postconventional. According to Kohlberg, moral development
begins with preconventional thinking in which children obey in order to avoid
punishment. What determines a child’s position in these stages is not whether
they choose whether what they have done is right or wrong, but by what reasoning
he or she uses to make the choice. Kohlberg believes that all children go
through all 3 stages (psychology, pg 391). Speech development beings within the
first week after birth. Your child’s first form of communications is crying.
Crying is a baby’s way of usually saying that they are hungry, tired, or need
to be changed. By 3 months of age babies begin all the gurgles and “woos”.
Although these may mean nothing to us, however this is their way of
communication and their development of vowel sounds. By the age of 5 to 6 months
most babies will begin to babble and may even slip out the words “ma”, or
“da.” Even though they babies may say these words they are unable to attach
them to a certain individual. 10-15 months toddlers can understand a few more
words. Proper names and object words are the most easily understood. The first
words that are understood most easily are those that they are usually in contact
with on a regular basis, these words include: mama, dada, cookie, doggy, and
car. At this stage in communication babies also learn inflection, which is
raising your voice when asking a question. For example saying “Up-py?” when
they want to be carried. At 18-24 months their vocabulary has immensely
increased and toddlers are most likely to repeat any word they hear. Their
vocabulary may include as many as 200 words or more. From this stage on they
begin to put words together and can eventually speak a sentence (
There are many factors that also contribute to the development of a child. Many
things that can slow down the development, are low birth weight, prematurity,
and drug use. Birth weight is an important factor associated with an infant’s
overall development and health. Children who were born under 5 Ѕ pounds
are more likely to have serious medical problems and to also have developmental
delays. In conclusion, a baby’s development is very important for a strong
healthy life. Without the care and responsibility needed for a child to develop
this can effect them for life.
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