The period of infancy, usually between the ages of 0-24 months, is a period during which newborns experience rapid growth and development both physically as well as emotionally.
The rates of growth differ from infant to infant but in general, there are some particular patterns that can usually be detected in the month to month growth of the infants.
This article will attempt to examine some of the key stages of infancy development that most normal infants inevitably go through.
Stages of physical infancy development
Physical infancy development normally begins well before the infant is born and it is fact that the babies are born with all of the nerve cells and neural structures that they will ever need.
This is because the brain of the baby develops very rapidly while it is still in the uterus, and this development is especially more pronounced within the third trimester of pregnancy.
It is interesting to uncover just how well developed an infant usually is at the time of birth. Various studies have shown that most normal infants are usually born with a number of innate reflexes.
The innate reflexes refer to the unlearned reflexes and reactions of the infants that are executed automatically. Some of the most common of these reflexes include:
The sucking reflex – It is common for babies to attempt to such at anything and everything that is brought into contact with their lips. In general, it is only the taste of the object that will eventually determine how long the sucking is sustained, even though the fact that it will be sucked is practically guaranteed.
Babinski reflex – Any keen observer must have observed that anytime the soles of the feet off an infant are touched, their big toe fans outwards as if to cover the other toes in a subconscious reflex.
Grasping reflex – A typical infant will generally grasp vigorously at any object that comes into their hands.
Motor development, like other stages of infancy development, varies from infant to infant. In spite of this fact, such development usually follows the same general sequence. For instance, a normal infant should be able to roll over by the time he or she is around two and a half months old. They are able to sit up without any external support by the time they are 6 months old and at around the age of 12 months they are able to walk on their own.
Researches into the stages through which a typical infant grows or develop have established that the infants go through what is referred to as growth in a cephalocaudal direction. This means that the lower trunk and the feet of the infant normally develop only after the upper trunk and head of the infant have already developed i.e. the latter parts of the body are the first to develop in any normal baby under the normal stages of infancy development.
Another interesting fact about infancy development is that most newborns are normally able to sense and respond to a wide variety of stimuli in the environment, indicating that they are born with many functional sensory organs.