INFANCY AND DEVELOPMENT

Various dimensions of development during the period of infancy are given below.

1. Physical development : This period is marked by following characteristics of physical development.

Physical development is very rapid during this period. For example size increases ten inches upto second year. Weight also becomes almost double at the age 472 months, i.e., from 3 kg at birth to almost 6 kg. At the age of 472 month.

Though sex organs are totally undeveloped and inactive during this period, yet a tendency to sexual development is seen in the second year of life. Child actually passes through three stages of sexual development. First stage, the stage of self love belongs to infancy. Here the child derives pleasure from his body, by sucking his thumbs of hand or legs or by touching his sex organs. The other two stages, homosexual or hetero sexual belong to early childhood.

At the time of birth, boys are heavier than girls. 7% weight loss is seen in the first seven days then the baby start to gain weight.

Study shows that boys are on the average heavier than girls at all age levels except from 11-14 years of age in which girls are found heavier than boys. Head is more developed than other parts of the body at birth. It grows proportionately at lesser speed than other parts of the body. At 6 years, the child gains 90% of the adult size of head.

Facial skeleton is found larger in proportion to cranium from birth to seven years of age.

Nose is proportionately small and flat on the face in the first four years. It gains full size at the age of 13 or 14.

Trunk is found heavy during the period of infancy. It along with legs lengthens gradually.

At birth, the weight of the brain is one fourth of an adult brain. It is one half by the age of 9 months and three fourth by the age of two years.

In the first year of the baby the heart beat is very irregular and its speed is very high. As the child grows, the heart beat becomes regular and slower. Other physical changes are given below.

  • Food takes longer time to pass through the digestive tract and to reach the intestines.
  • Urine bladder can retain urine for a longer period of time.
  • Body temperature becomes more stable.
  • Composition of blood does not change.

“The weight becomes almost three times the birth weight at the end of first year. By the age of 2, it becomes 342 times the birth weight.

2. Nervous system :

Nerve cells attain maturity during this period

Brain also grows rapidly and its size and weight increases

Improvement in the functioning and structure of sensory organs is seen. Thus, by the end of this period the child is able to perform all the functions of seeing, hearing, smelling. tasting and touching properly.

3. Motor development :

Co-ordination and control of bodily movements are seen.

The child starts grasping objects in the fourth month of his life.

He sits in the sixth month. He crawls in the seventh or eighth month. He stands with the help of support in the ninth month and in the 120 month he begins to walk slowly without support.

Running begins in the second year of his life

Greater muscular involvement is seen during infancy

4. Language development :

It starts with vocalization in the form of cries or explosive sounds. This vocalization may be described as pre speech form.

The child only cries at the time of birth to express his emotions or desires. This crying is used even in the second year of life to express desires and needs.

He begins to utter few words by the end of the first year like mama, dada etc. Some unintelligible words spoken by the child may be seen in the seventh or eighth month.

Language development properly begins in the beginning of the second year. The rate of language development becomes rapid at the age of 1.5 years and the child crames any new learnt word just in order to retain it in his mind.

By the end of two years he begins to speak proper but short sentences, though grammatical mistakes may be there.

5. Intellectual development :

No clear cut sign of intellectual development is seen during infancy. His capacity to asp new words is totally based on rote memory. though his cramming is without reason or intellect.

He lacks abstract understanding. His understanding is exclusively restricted to concrete materials but he thinks that heavier is one which is bigger in size. Thus, a plastic ball of bigger size is heavier than a metal ball of smaller size for the child.

Sign of creativity is seen at the end of the 2nd year. The infant often engages himself in collecting many articles.

This is a period of make belief. When he attains the age of 2, he believes in what he is told by his elders.

A baby perceives an unfamiliar object as a form or as a figure. He has an innate tendency to organize his sense field and to perceive the object as a whole but this perception lacks definiteness.

6. Social development :

He learns social skills in the company of his mother and fathers. When he is responded by them he learns how to respond to others. Thus, he learns all his social experiences from his family member in the first year but in the second year his horizon expands to his neighbourhood.

By the end of two years he begins to take the notice of other infants and plays with them.

He totally depends upon his family members for the fulfillment of his social, psychological and physical needs.

He expects that every body around him should love him and care him. When this expectation is not fulfilled he becomes irritated and cries.

The baby becomes aware of other persons around him at the age of one month. In the second month, he smiles in response to the attentions of adults and he is able to distinguish his mother and other women. In the third month he waves his hands and legs when he is talked to. In the fourth month, he makes anticipatory adjustment to being lifted by someone. In the fifth month, he attends to the human face and looks in the direction of the person who leaves him. He smiles in response to the person who speaks and plays with him. In the sixth month, he reacts differently to smiling and scolding and shows negative responses to strangers. In the ninth month, he tries to imitate the speech of others. He copies simple acts and gestures of others after observation in the tenth month. In the 12th month, he can refrain from doing things when he is forbidden to do so. In the second year of life he exhibits fear and dislike for strangers by crying or withdrawing. When the baby attains the age of 18 months, he shows negativism in the form of stubborn resistance to the demands of adults.

In the first two years, the child’s play is self centred. He does not like to be interfered by other children or adults. He plays in his own way. He is generally non cooperative and has to be hand patience and tacts. In short, the baby is socially underdeveloped.

Hurlock has presented the social development taking place during first two years of infancy as under:

1. First month – Understand human and other voices

2. Second month –  Recognizes human voices and greets with smile

3. Third month – Recognizes mother and distresses on her being away

4. Fourth month – Recognizes human faces

5. Fifth month – Understands the tone of voices i.e. love and hate

6. Sixth or Seventh – Welcomes the known with month smile

7. 8th or 9th month Plays with his own shadow

8. 24th month Participates in elder’s work

7. Emotional development:

He is completely egocentric and selfish.When he reaches the age of 2. he even does not want to share his toys.

He is irritated and cries when he is chided by his family members.

His emotions are intense, frequent and totally unstable though emotional reactions become distinct in the beginning of the second year. These emotions are spontaneous and he can not control them.

He cannot hide his feelings thus, his entire emotions are in the overt form.

Emotions of anger, fear, disgust, elation, love and affections are seen. For example, when he is loved by his mother, he shows his affection by his activities. Similarly,when he is not attended by his family members, he feels disgusted. He also feels pleasure in the company of his mother or his father. 

A number of psychologists are of the view that infants are able to undergo emotional experiences. Emotions of fear, anger, joy, hate etc. are seen in them even in the first year.

During the period of infancy only those conditions arouse emotional responses which affect the child’s immediate needs and well being, but when the child grows, his spectrum increases and he becomes responsive to a number of stimuli.

It has been noticed that babies and children show their pronounced emotional disturbance just before eating, sleeping, or waking up. For example, when a baby wakes up after sleep, he cries whether he is hungry or not.

Intellectually dull children are less emotionally disturbed than the normal children

Infants show smiling response to any human face whether familiar or stranger between eight and twenty weeks of age. Negative responses to strangers starts after 20 weeks of age and continues upto 40 weeks.  

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