Conception or the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm cell from the male may be regarded as one of the most single moments of the individual’s life. The reason for this is that what happens then will determine the whole course of his future life. Conniff (1967).
Three significant things are determined at that moment. They are:
(1) The hereditary endowment of the offspring
(2) the sex of the offspring
(3) the number of offspring Elizabeth B Hurlock (1968).
The normal prenatal period is 10 lunar months or 9 calendar months in length. However, there is great variation in this length, ranging from 180 days to 334 days, the legal limit of postmaturity. There are approximately three times as many babies born prematurely as postmaturely. Carmichael, L.(1954).
Prenatal development is orderly and predictable. Hence, it is possible to give a “timetable” of the important developments taking place during this period. The prenatal period is generally divided into three stages or periods, each characterized by its own peculiar type of development Montagu (1962).
An important dimension of the stability change issue is the extent to which early experiences (especially in infancy or later experiences are the key determinants of a person’s development. That is, if infants experience negative, stressful circumstances, in their lives, can those experiences be overcome by later, more positive experiences? Or are the early experiences so critical – possibly because they are the infant’s first, prototypical experiences – that they cannot be overridden by an enriched environment later in development?
The issue of early versus later experience has a long history and continues to be hotly debated by develomentalists (Cairns, 1998). Some believe that unless infants experience warm, nurturant care giving in the first year or so of life, Pg 15
Baby hood extends from the end of the period of infancy, two weeks after birth, until the end of the second year of life. By that time average baby is relatively independent of adult aid and can do many more things for himself which formerly had to be done for him. Although many babies attain relative independence before their second birthdays, the average baby is two years old before he reaches this stage of development. Decrease in helplessness and an accompanying increase in independence come from the rapid development of body control which enables the baby to sit, stand walk and manipulate object at will.
Independence also increases with the baby’s improvement in the ability to communicate his needs and wishes to others in forms which they can understand. Increased independence permits the baby to develop along lines suited to his interests and abilities. As a result the individuality apparent at birth is increased as he grows older. Elizabeth B Hurlock (1968).
The years of babyhood are the true foundation years of life because at this time the foundation of many behaviour patterns many attitudes towards others and towards the self, and many patterns of emotional expression are being established. Havighurst ( 1953).
According to Erikson, trust versus mistrust is the first psychosocial stage of the human life span and is experienced in the first year of life. A sense of trust requires a feeling of physical comfort and a minimal amount of fear and apprehension about the future. Trust in infancy sets the stage for a life-long expectation that the world will be a good and pleasant place to live.
Following a life of regularity, warmth, and protection in the mother's womb, the infant faces a world that is less secure. Erikson believes that infants learn trust when they are cared for in a consistent, warm manner. If the infant is not well fed and kept warm on a consistent basis, a sense of mistrust is likely to develop.
Trust versus mistrust is not resolved once and for all in the first year of life. It arises again at each successive stage of development. There are both hope and danger in this. Children who enter school with a sense of mistrust may trust particular teacher who has taken the time to make herself trustworthy. With this second chance, children overcome their early mistrust. By contrast, children who leave infancy with a sense of trust can still have their sense of mistrust activated at a later stage, perhaps if their parents are separated or divorced under conflicting circumstances.
Infancy infants are not just "given" a self by their parents or the Culture; rather they find and construct selves (Garcia, Hart, & Johnson-Ray, 1998). Studying the self in infancy is difficult mainly because of infants' inability to describe with language their experiences of themselves. Two aspects of self-understanding that have been studied in infancy are self-awareness and self-recognition.
Self-Awareness- John Watson (1994) believes that although infants can destining between the self and others in the first few, days of life, they actively work to elaborate and consolidate boundaries between self and others through the first 3 or 4 months of infancy. Watson's claims are based on his research, in which he demonstrated that infants younger than 4 months of age show a preference for perfect contingency, which is typical only of the self's own actions. For example, leg kicking when accompanied by visual attention directed toward the feet always in visual perceptions of kicking legs. Watson says that the young infant’s attentional bias toward perfect contingency reflects categorization of the self as distinct from other objects.
After the first 3 or 4 months of age, Watson found, infants show a preferences for imperfect contingency, which is uncharacteristic of the self's actions but typical of interactions with both others and the natural world. For example, when interacting with another person, the infant might smile with the reasonable but not certain-expectation that the other person will smile back. The preference for imperfect contingency draws attention away from the self and toward the social and natural world.
Self-Recognition Infants cannot verbally express their views on the nature of the self. They also cannot understand the complex instructions required to engage child developmentalist's tasks. Given these restrictions, how can researchers still infants' self-understanding? They test infants' visual self-recognition by presenting them with images of themselves in mirrors, pictures, and other visual media. For example, let's examine how the mirror technique works. An infant's mother puts a dot of rouge on the infant's nose. An observer watches to see how often the infant touches its nose. Next, the infant is placed in front of a mirror, and observers detect whether nose touching increases. In two separate investigations, in the second half of the second year of life, infants recognized their own images in the mirror and coordinated the images they saw with the actions of touching their own bodies (Amsterdam, 1968; Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979). In sum, human infants initially develop a sense of rudimentary self-understanding called self-recognition at approximately 18 months of age (Hart & Karmel, 1996; Lewis & others, 1989).
While these foundations are not so firmly established at the end of baby that they cannot be changed should they prove to be insufficient or socially unacceptable, they are nevertheless firmly enough established that changing them means relearning , with its accompaniment of emotional tension and conclusion. Elizabeth B Hurlock (1968)
While illness in babyhood are less often fatal today than they were in the past , because of improved medical care in the prenatal and early postnatal months and the use of the new “ wonder drugs” to minimise the severity of diseases, the morality rate in the babyhood Years is still high. Schenfeld A (1958).
All Babies are expected to learn to walk , to take solid foods , to have their organs of elimination under partial control , to achieve reasonable Physiological stability , especially in hunger rhythm and sleep , to learn the foundations of speech , to relate themselves emotionally to their parents and siblings to some extent instead of being completely self- bound as they are
Immediately after birth Havinghurst RJ (1953).
From birth until four or five months of age, all eating is in the infantile form of sucking and swallowing. Food, as a result, must be in liquid Form. Chewing generally appears in the developmental pattern a month later than biting. But, like biting, it is an infantile form and requires much practice before it becomes serviceable Elizabeth B Hurlock (1968).
At first baby chews in rabbit style using only his front teeth. If the Portion he has bitten off is too large for him to cope with successfully, he either holds it in his mouth without chewing on he spits it out. Brecker Midge (1965).
After body control has been obtained, the baby can use his muscular coordination’s for new activities. On the foundations laid by maturation, he can build skills fire coordination’s in which the smaller muscles play a major role. Cronbach, C J (1963)
Babyhood is the time when the foundation of many skills are being laid, the matter of learning should not be left to chance, nor should the baby learn by trial and error. This is likely to lead to the establishment of behaviour patterns which will prove to be so inefficient that they will have to be replaced by other and more efficient patterns later on Elizabeth. (1968).
The sensorimotor stage, which lasts from birth to about 2 years of age, is the first Piagetian stage. In this stage, infants construct an understanding of the world by coordinating sensory experiences (such as seeing and hearing) with physical, motoric action – hence the term “sensorimotor”. At the beginning of this stage, newborns have little more than reflexive patterns with which to work. At the end of the stage, 2 years old have complex sensorimotor patterns and are beginning to operate with primitive symbols.
Piaget divided the sensorimotor stage into six substances : (1) simple reflexes (2) first habits and primary circular reactions: (3) secondary circular reactions (4) coordination of secondary circular reactions (5) tertiary circular reactions, novelty and curiosity and (6) internalization of schemes.
Simple reflexes is Piaget’s first sensorimotor substance, which correspondents to the first month after birth. In this substage, sensation and action are coordinated primarily through reflexive behaviors. These include rooting and sucking, which the infant has at birth. In substage I, the infant exercises these reflexes. More importantly, he infant develops an ability to produce behaviors that resemble reflexes in the ……….of obvious reflexive stimuli. The newborn might suck when a bottle or nipple is only nearby, for example. When the baby was just born, the bottle or nipple would have produced the sucking pattern only when placed directly in its mouth or punched to the lips. Reflex like actins in the absence of a triggering stimulus are evidence that the infant is initiating action and is actively structuring experiences in the first month of life.
First habits and primary circular reactions is Piaget’s second sensorimotor substage, which develops between 1 and 4 months of age. IN this substage, the infant …….to coordinate sensation and types of schemes or structures – that is, habits and primary circular reactions. A habit is a scheme based on simple reflex, such as sucking that has become completely separated from its eliciting stimulus. For example, infant in substage 1 might suck when oral stimulated by a bottle or when visually shown the bottle. However, an infant in substage 2 might suck even when nothing is present. A primary circular reaction is a scheme based on the infant’s attempt reproduces an interesting or pleasurable event that initially occurred by chance. In popular Piagetian example, a child accidentally sucks his fingers when they are faced near his mouth. Later, he searches for his fingers to suck them again, but they do not cooperate in the search because the infant cannot coordinate visual- manual actions. Habits and circular reactions are stereotyped, in that the infant in the same way each time. There is no outward pull by environmental events. (page 189)
Next you will see that piaget’s third sub stage of infant development also involves the concept of circular reaction, Piaget’s terms for repetitive actions that take different forms.
Secondary circular reactions is piaget’s third sensorimotor substage, which develops between 4 to 8 months of age. In this sub stage the infant becomes more object-oriented or focused on the world, moving beyond preoccupation with the self in sensor motor interactions. By change, an infant might shake a rattle. The infant will repeat this action for the sake of experiencing fascination. The infants imitate some simple actions of others such as the baby talk or burbling of adults and some physical gestures. However these imitations are limited to actions the infant is already able to produce. Although directed towards objects in the world, the infant’s schemes lack an intentional, goal- directed quality.
Coordination of secondary circular reactions is Piaget’s fourth sensorimotor substage, which develops between 8 and 12 months of age. In this substage several significant change take place that involve the coordination of schemes and intentionality. Infants readily combine and recombine previously learned schemes in a coordinated way. They might look at an object and grasp it simultaneously, or they might visually inspect a toy, such as a rattle, and finger it simultaneously, in obvious tactile exploration. Actins are even more outwardly directed than before. Related to this coordination is the second achievement – the presence of intentionality the separation of means and goals in accomplishing simple feats. For example, infants might manipulate a stick (the mans) to bring a desired toy within reach (the goal) or they might knock over one block to reach and play with another one.
Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity is Piaget’s fifth sensorimotor substage, which develops between 12 and 18 months of age. In this substage, inflates become intrigued by the variety of properties that objects posses and by the many things they can make happen to objects. A block can be made to fall, spin, hit another object, and slide across the ground. Tertiary circular reactions are schemes in which the infant purposely explores new possibilities with objects, continually doing new things to them and exploring the results. Piaget says that this stage marks the developmental starting point for human curiosity and interest in novelty. Previous circular reactions have been devoted exclusively to reproducing former events, with the exception of imitation of novels acts, which occurs as early as substage 4. The tertiary circular reaction is the first to the concerned with novelty.
Internalization of schemes is Piaget’s sixth and final sensorimotor substage, which develops between 18 to 24 months of age. In this substage, the infant’s mental functioning shifts from a purely sensorimotor plane to a symbolic plane, and the infant develops the ability to use primitive symbols. For Piaget’s a symbol is an internalized sensory image or word that represents an event. Primitive symbols permit the infant to think about concrete events without directly acting them out or perceiving them. Moreover, symbols aloe the infant to manipulate and transform the represented events in simple ways. In a favorite Piagetian example, Piaget’s young daughter saw a matchbox being opened and closed sometime later, she mimicked the event by opening and closing her mouth. This was an obvious expression of her image of the event. In other example a child opened a door slowly to avoid disturbing a piece of paper lying on the floor on the other side. Clearly, the child had an image of the unseen paper and what would happen to it if the door opened quickly. However, develop mentalists have debated have debated whether 2-year olds really have such representation of action sequences at their command (Corrigan, 1981 ).
Early social experiences play a dominant role in determining the child’s attitudes towards social relationship with others. And because the baby’s life is centered around the home, the foundations for later social behavior and attitudes are home grown. Studies of social adjustments of older children have revealed that their social behavior remains consistent, as they grow older, thus emphasizing the importance of good foundation. Schaefer (1963).