Infancy And Toddler Development Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Children Type: Essay Paper: #14723090
Excerpt from Essay :

Integrating the Field of Developmental Psychology: A Review of the Literature

Developmental Stage/Age Group: Infancy and toddlerhood (0 - 3 years)

In the development stage of infancy to toddlerhood, the child is changing and responding to its environment and social setting. As Levinson (1986) notes, the home is the child’s immediate social and physical environment. The mother tends to be the child’s source of security and the child grows in confidence through connection to the mother. Between the ages of one and two the child is like a “young scientist,” according to Piaget in the sense that the child explores and demonstrates cognitive development (Thomas, Warner & Foster, 2000). According to Freud, the child is developing a sense of pleasure, first through oral stimulation which is connected to feeding initially but also through relief by way of bowel movements and urination. According to Erickson, the child is developing trust during this developmental period and moving from a position of security and comfort to a position of exploration and independence by the end of this period.

Physical Changes

The physical changes associated with infancy and toddlerhood occur rapidly in the first two years of the child’s life—indeed, this is the fastest rate of growth the body will experience in its life. A healthy child will grow in length by 75% in the first two years of development. The child’s head is disproportionate to the rest of the body in size but will grow at a rate of an inch per year and by toddlerhood the child will resemble adults, proportion wise. (Papalia, Olds & Feldman, 2007)

During infancy, the child will communicate by using cries. By toddlerhood, these cries turn into sound words as the child begins to practice mimicking the sounds made by adults to indicate meaning and desire. Vision improves over the course of the first four months. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and then walking follow between the months of four and twelve for most children. Older infants/toddlers will began mimicking adult voices and making their first sound words as indicators.

Cognitive Changes

The cognitive changes associated with infancy and toddlerhood...


At two months of age, the child should be paying attention to faces, following movement with the eyes and fussing if no new activities are provided after a while. By six months of age, the child should be bringing objects to the mouth to obtain a sense of them. Signs of the child being curious about objects should be apparent, as the child reaches for things and uses the hands to explore. At one year of age, the child is copying adults, understanding simple directives. At two years, the child is able to find objects that are hidden, tell the difference between shapes and colors, engage in imaginative play, stack blocks, and follow more complex commands. At three years of age, the child should be able to use crayons to color or draw a circle, work buttons and moving parts and enjoy storybooks that are read to the child. These are important milestones because as Murray, Jones, Kuh and Richards (2007) point out, if they are not reached it could be an indication of a cognitive disability that needs to be addressed.

Emotional Changes

The emotional changes associated with infancy and toddlerhood demonstrate development from a need for security to a need for independence. During infancy, the child needs to feel safe, secure, comforted and loved. The child responds positively to being held and will smile when happy. By one year of age, the child will be walking and enjoying a degree of independence and freedom with the newfound ability to explore. By two, toddlers will test their boundaries and will also be learning how to self-regulate their feelings. Emotional outbursts or tantrums are not uncommon between the ages of two and three (Potegal, Kosorok & Davidson, 2003).

Social Changes

The social changes associated with infancy and toddlerhood reveal progression from attachment to independence and one-on-one play. Erickson shows that children learn to trust during this period of development (Austrian, 2008). They develop from a trust that comes from the parental guardian-child bond to a trust for others who do not show aggression and threat. This trust provides them with a feeling of security and allows them to approach other children their own age with confidence and engage in play. They can also demonstrate independence by playing comfortably alone. Between the age of 1 and 2, the child will be watching others and learning from them. This frequently included observational play in which the child watches other children play but does not engage. By age 3 the child is more likely to be engaging other children in play—i.e., playing alongside them but not necessarily “with” them.

Evaluating and Appraising the Effects

By evaluating the developmental changes and appraising the effects of the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social environments, one can see that at this stage of development, the child is forming a sense of surroundings as well as a sense of others and of self. The child becomes comfortable with the environment thanks to the security provided by the guardian (typically the mother). The child develops a sense of pleasure, a sense of…

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