Child Development Essay


Infancy is the stage between birth and two years of age. This stage is characterized by rapid physical growth than any other stage of life. Very interesting changes occur in this couple of years. Brain development also occurs rapidly at this stage. Prior to birth, the unborn baby has most of the brain cells, but not all. There is a very rapid development of the neural connections between the cells. Contrary to what most people think, the baby is not entirely helpless. It is capable of all the basic activities required to sustain life -- breathing, suckling, swallowing and excretion. By the first week, the newborns can identify the direction from which sound is coming, recognize the voice of the mother from other voices and is capable of simple imitating basic gestures such as opening the mouth and sticking out the tongue (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013).

Physical Changes

Reflexes (automatic in built response to stimuli) control the movements of the newborn. They are survival mechanisms carried in the genes and serve as the foundation for all the motor development that follows. There are some reflexes that persist throughout the newborn's life such as blinking, yawning and coughing. As the functions of the brain develop, some reflexes disappear and the newborns start gaining control over their behavior. Physical development also continues as the brain develops. The nervous system and muscles mature with the growth of the infant leading to finer skill development. Motor skills (basic physical skills) include crawling, sitting, grasping and trying to reach objects, walking and running. Motor development follows a certain universal sequence although there are little exceptions (Shaffer &Kipp, 2013).

The infants are more competent than they appear. They can identify the voice of the mother and possess other sensory capabilities shortly after birth. How good is an infant's eyesight? Newborns like to look at some stimuli such as faces more than others. These preferences, however, change after a few months. The vision of a newborn is to be a bit lower than that of an adult. It gets better after the first six months and after a year, it's almost as good as an adult's vision (20/20). Do newborns have the ability to see color? The current consensus is that infants are generally color deficient although they might tell the difference between white and red. By the age of three months, they have developed full color vision. How do newborns fare as far as sound is concerned? Infants start hearing immediately they are born. Infants become proficient at localizing sound as they grow. Newborns are responsive to touch and even have the ability to feel pain. They also have the capacities to taste and smell.

Cognitive Development

Is the level of understanding in a 3-year-old similar to that of an 8-year-old? According to Jean Piaget, children actively construct how they understand the world. Their minds don't simply...

As they grow, they acquire additional information and their way of thinking adapts to accept new ideas, which in turn improves their perception of the world.

Piaget's theory and cognitive development in infancy

The intellectual development theory by Jean Piaget is recognized as one of the best theories on cognitive development. It is used to explain infant development according to the sensorimotor or first stage. The theory suggests that intellectual development as a continuation of the biologic development that started before birth. This means that since birth, the child is equipped with the ability to make several motor responses. This provides the foundation for the subsequent thought processes. Therefore, the psychological base is the source of thinking ability. Piaget also believes that there are several stages of thought that the mind passes through between infancy and adolescence. Each of these stages has its own unique way of thinking which is related to age. We should take note that some stages every stage is more advanced than the previous one, not because of the information but because of the advanced way of thinking. This is the reason why an adult doesn't think the same way as an 8-year-old (Simatwa, 2010).

During infancy, the child is in the sensorimotor stage where the world is experienced senses and interacting with objects -- hearing, seeing, touching, grasping and mouthing. The newborn's life revolves around the present and does not think about the things it cannot see. For instance, if a child has been playing with a toy and the toy is hidden, the child will not look for the toy and will continue on as if nothing happened, even assuming that the toy did not exist. Piaget states that infants are limited to the immediate sensory experience and objects lack permanence -- they are not aware that objects still exist even when they can't be seen or heard. The child begins to gradually pursue objects that are partially exposed to his/her presence. Infants seem to have a foundation for verbal communication. Babbling, which sometimes occurs between the age of 3 to 6 months, is the beginning of the infant's vocalization.

An infant develops cognitive and mental attributes during the sensorimotor stage from birth to the period when language appears (Ojose, 2008). Cognitive activity is limited to the immediate sensory experience in this stage. Interaction of the infant's senses and the surroundings is the main intellectual activity. The infant does not have a developed language with which it can label experiences or symbolize in order to remember ideas and events. They can see and feel what is happening but do not have a way to categorize their experiences. Responses are almost reliant on the situation. For instance, the child can scream uncontrollably when hungry. Trying to convince a six-month-yield to wait for a few minutes as you warm his/her food…

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