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Monday, 01 October 2012 17:24


Written by David Sheppard
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n  The First Two Years: Biosocial Development

n  Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College

n  Body Changes

n  An average newborn is 7½ lbs, 20 inches.

n  Infants triple their birthweight by 1 year.

n  By age two, they are about ½ their adult height (!) and ¼ their adult weight.

n  Body Changes

n  Body Changes (cont.)

Percentile ranks: allow comparisons of an individual infant to group norms

¨  A sudden drop in percentile rank might indicate a developmental problem.

Head Sparing: in cases of inadequate nutrition, the brain keeps growing

Advantages to breast feeding:

n  Nutritionally balanced, antibodies/ illnesses ,$, convenient, bonding, SIDS, IQ, mother’s body

n  The Wonderful World of SLEEP

Newborns sleep 17+ hours a day.

Students sleep through 100% of Mr. Sheppard’s lectures

n  Infant Sleep (cont.)

n  Infants gradually adjust to the family’s sleep schedule.

¨  80% of 1 year olds sleep “through the night”

¨  Sleep cycles are influenced by brain maturation, diet, child-rearing practices, and birth order

Make It Real: Co-Sleeping

Some families practice “co-sleeping,” in which the family shares a bed.

Why might a family do this? Do you think it could benefit or harm an infant? 

n  Research on Co-Sleeping

CULTURE influences the decision (it is more common in Eastern culture)

n  It is not harmful to an infant, under normal circumstances (e.g., if adult is not drunk)

n  It may increase dependence on parents

n  Brain Development

n  Brain development during infancy is fascinating and rapid.

¨  By the age of 2, the brain is 75% its adult weight

¨  Neural connections in the brain also develop

n  Brain Development (cont.)

Regional specialization: neurons in certain areas of the brain correspond to different tasks

¨  Examples: language, vision, smell, emotional processing, recognizing faces vs. objects, etc.

n  The Developing Cortex

n  Brain Development (cont.)

Transient exuberance: rapid proliferation of new neural connections in infancy

¨  As many as 15,000 new connections per neuron and 100 trillion synapses by age 2!

Pruning makes the brain more efficient by eliminating underused connections.

n  What influences early brain development?

n  Brain development is influenced by maturation and experiences.

Experience-expectant brain functions require basic common experiences.

¨  Example: No matter where an infant lives, he or she hears sounds and language.

n  What influences early brain development? (cont.)

Experience-dependent brain functions depend on exposure to particular events.

¨  Example: The particular sounds and language heard (and learned) varies across infants.

¨  Example: The development of impulse control depends on both maturation and practice.

n  Why are neural connections so important?

n  A certain level of neural connections indicate healthy brain development.

Lack of connections may result from child abuse or neglect early in life, and can have lasting consequences.

¨  Example: Infants in orphanages

n  Implications for Caregivers

n  Is it possible to overstimulate an infant? YES!

n  The key is to follow the infant’s lead

Self-righting: an infant’s inborn drive to use whatever experiences available to develop the brain (wow!)

n  Infant Senses

n  All five senses function at birth

¨  Vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell

Perception (the brain’s processing of the sensation) develops over time.

n  Infant Senses (cont.)

Hearing: is well developed at birth

¨  Infants respond to sudden noises, human voice, phonemes of language

Vision: is the least mature sense at birth

¨  Bionocular vision develops around 14 weeks

¨  “Adult” vision (20/20) by one year

n  Infant Senses (cont.)

Taste, touch, smell function well at birth

n  Motor Skills

n  Motor skills develop according to two principles:

¨  Cephalocaudal: growth proceeds from head-to-toe (e.g., head lift before sit, stand, walk)

¨  Proximal-distal: growth proceeds from torso outward (e.g., sucking before kicking)

n  Motor Skills (cont.)

Reflexes account for the first motor skills.

Survival reflexes include sucking, breathing, body temperature.

n  Other reflexes include the Babinski, Moro, and stepping reflexes.

n  Infant Reflexes

n  : Motor Skills

At what age do you think most infants learn to walk?

What about you?

n  Motor Skills (cont.)

Gross motor skills involve large muscle movements.

¨  Examples: crawling, sitting, walking

¨  Walking typically occurs around 12 months, with great variability across infants.

¨  Walking requires muscle strength, brain maturation, and practice.

n  Motor Skills (cont.)

Fine motor skills involve small muscle movements.

¨  Examples: learning to grasp, shake, pull an object, hold a spoon, write, draw, etc.

n  Motor skills are influenced by genes, culture, and patterns of infant care.

n  Public Health Measures

Infant survival rates have increased significantly in the past century, due to better nutrition, cleaner water, and immunization.

n  Although not without controversy, immunization has been hailed as a major achievement  (e.g., significantly reducing polio, small pox, measles).

n  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

SIDS is infant death of an unknown cause.

Protective factors (although not a guarantee) include: NO cigarette smoke in house, noise and touch during sleep, breast feeding, sleeping on back