An infant’s journey of development spans from one month (before one month he is a neonate) to about 14 plus months. Around 10 months he starts nudging towards toddlerhood.
Infants develop at their own pace but in a given sequence of development. Knowing important characteristics of their development will help parents make informed decisions concerning their play and behaviors. Herewith is a bird’s eye view of some important developmental characteristics.
The presentation below does not follow any developmental sequencing of the subheadings. Wherever necessary, there is separate reference to younger or older infants.
In the early part of infancy, the infant learns that an event in the environment is pleasurable and shows this same feeling whenever the event is repeated.
E.g.The infant associates his mother’s loving voice with cuddling and kissing. When he has learnt this association, he is comforted with just the sound of her voice.
Coordination of movements
Between one and three months, the infant’s neck muscles become stronger and the arm and hand movements are developed. He makes cooing sounds, plays with his hands, mouth and small toys.
At 4 to 6 months, he grasps and explores objects by “mouthing” and banging them .He also learns to search for objects.
Between 7 and 12 months, the infant is constantly on the move. He looks around, plays with his feet and objects of all types.
He has mastered crawling and thus increases his mobility. He likes to insert his fingers in holes and picks up tiny objects, as he is learns to use his fingers in opposition to his thumb.
At 7 to 9 months, the infant gets upset when separated from parents/ primary caretakers, as he has developed an attachment with them. It also brings out stranger anxiety, a hallmark of this phase.
He thus likes to have familiar adults around him as he is also developing a sense of trust and the beginnings of interpersonal relationships.
As do all children, the infant learns through sensory exploration comprising sense of taste, touch, hearing, smell and speech.
In the beginning, the he explores everything around him with his body: Ears, eyes, nose, mouth, fingers and legs within a short distance from his crib. Gradually he expands his horizon and ultimately races to the main door and out, for sensory expeditions!
Rudimentary language skill
An Infant uses a mix of sounds, such that it almost sounds like a real spoken language. He is happy when his mother plays along with him.
Some tips for parents:
In light of the above developmental characteristics, here are a few tips for parents to contribute positive inputs in the infant’s development.
- It is important to stimulate the senses of your infant through planned, age appropriate activities and experiences. The same will improve his cognitive abilities such as attention span, memory, curiosity and his mobility.
- Hold your infant as often as you can and play with him to enrich his sensory experiences. Repeat again and again till he has learned all that he can from a given experience. Repetition helps him remember better and for longer periods.
- Offer age appropriate sensory and motor experiences which in turn will influence his cognitive abilities.
1. Soft toys, stuffed animals, rattles and mobiles are a few examples of objects that provide opportunities to infant ,to hold and feel; and learn.
2. Repetitive play helps them to learn motor skills, rhythm and language skills. Do this through rhythmic clapping with a song, finger plays, peek-a-boo and so on.
- Display/hang moving mobiles over the infant’s crib to provide an opportunity to learn, to kick or grab it. The same will allow him to understand how the interplay of his actions and behavior which affects his environment.
- Satisfy your infant’s curiosity with lots of opportunities and experiences, using different stimuli, so that he wants to do more of the same.
- Be creative and do what the child likes and promote his independence.
- It is a good idea to consult a child development expert/student for guidance.