Following the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines
We experience development in various forms throughout our entire lives. Arguably, however, the most crucial development we experience takes place when we are first born. From infancy to a baby’s first birthday, it often does not appear that they do more than cry, eat, sleep, and lose control of their bodily functions. In reality, they begin learning about the world around them almost immediately. Many consider babies below this form of intelligence but, just the same, they experience physical, cognitive, and even social development as they age. Factors throughout their environment and genetic influences may impact how the individual develops as they age toward their first birthday. During this important time for the infant it is crucial to remember how active their brains are, how many developmental milestones they are meeting every day, and how important it is to create a safe environment regardless of one’s background or how one was raised.
Physically, infants do not look like much during the first year of their life. They are cute no matter what they do, and that is all we seem to notice. This first year of their life, however, is crucial to the physical success of the rest of their time here. From infancy to year one, babies will learn to focus their vision. They will also master reaching their arms out in front of them, attempting to grab things as they do. The baby will develop the muscles and coordination necessary to roll over, crawl, sit up on their own, hold their head up without support, stand, and maybe even walk. Environment can be crucial during this time. For example, it is important for parents and caregivers to engage the child. Putting the child on his or her stomach, popularly known as, “tummy time” and engaging the child to lift their head or crawl is a way of doing this. Simply placing a mobile above the child’s bed can encourage reaching out. Helping the child stand, and giving positive verbal encouragement is also important.
Infancy is also an important time for a human being; the brain is working overtime to take in all of the new information of the surrounding area. Information about speech, surroundings, caregivers, memory, thinking itself, and even reasoning are accounted for during this time . It is important during this time parents and caregivers speak or sing to their babies; this encourages speech development and is an example of a positive environment. Calling the baby by his or her name, as well as calling objects by their names will also encourage speech. Referring to objects and people by their names helps encourage a strong memory in the infant’s mind as cognitive abilities develop; this is another example of a positive environment. Without this encouragement, the infant may be left behind cognitively. A positive environment free of harmful substances and abuse is also important during this cognitively crucial time, as it can begin to seem like the norm for the infant; quiet, happy environments are best for the child’s development.
Throughout infancy and into their first year of life, babies are also developing socially and emotionally. This is an important time for an infant to develop trust, learn about affection and love, and bond with his or her caregivers. In a combination of bonding and learning about their environment, for example, the infant will cry in order to receive attention. They may need to be changed, fed, or simply want to be held. Regardless of the reason, the attentiveness of the caregiver will have an impact on the infant; if the response is fast the infant will begin feeling secure and bond quickly with the caregiver . In contrast, if the infant’s cries go unheard, they may go on to have an insecure attachment to their caregiver, which can create unhealthy behaviors later in life. This can sometimes be blamed on heredity, as we sometimes parent how we were parented. One must be bonded to know how to bond, according to, “Handbook of Social Development,” and if a caregiver is unable to bond successfully with an infant, they may have experienced similar treatment . If the child does not bond successfully with the infant, or if they do not feel secure and loved, they may even leave infancy feeling abandoned. The way parents cuddle, play, or hold the infant will build a foundation for how the infant plays and interacts with others as they grow. Therefore, it is important the environment is attentive, loving, and supportive, to ensure the child is securely bonded with the caregiver, and comfortable with interacting socially or emotionally with others.
In sum, infancy is an important developmental time. While babies are primarily looked at as cute and fun, their minds are always working. They are taking in information constantly. They learn from their environment, as well as the people around them. How a parent was raised impact how the child is raised. The way the environment is ran also impacts how the child develops. Each of these things can have a positive or negative impact on the infant’s brain as they attempt to develop physical, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Learning to crawl, stand, talk, remember names, and become bonded with a caregiver is difficult for an infant in the most secure of environments with the most capable caregivers. It is important to remember one must have patience and be attentive, while always speaking to the baby, encouraging the, and showing them love and affection in order to promote a healthy environment regardless of one’s background. This way one can ensure the healthiest of developmental stages for the infant throughout this time.
Sigelman, C., & Rider, E. (2013). Life-Span Human Development. Chicago: Cengage.
Van Hasselt, V. B., & Hersen, M. (2013). Handbook of Social Development: A Lifespan Perspective. New York: Springer Science and Business Media.