Janet Belsky’s
Experiencing the Lifespan, 2e
Chapter 3:
Infancy: Physical and
Cognitive Development
Meredyth Fellows, West Chester University of PA
Postpartum Depression
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_______________________
Data from three states indicate that nearly 12% of
women reported being moderately depressed after
they delivered their baby, and 6% reported being
very depressed after delivery. In addition to directly
influencing the emotional wellbeing of mothers,
postpartum depression (PPD) has been shown to
affect marital relationships, mother–infant bonding,
and infant behavior
The Expanding Brain:
Blossoming and Sculpting
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Brain Growth Following Birth
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Experiences fastest growth during infancy
Cerebral cortex comes “on-line” a few
months after birth
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Cerebral Cortex: outer folded mantle of brain;
responsible for thinking, reasoning, perceiving,
and all conscious processes
In 20 years brain volume quadruples and
growth is complete.
The Expanding Brain
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Recall during fetal period neurons are
formed
After birth, _______________ proliferation of connections at the
synapses
 Exuberant synaptogenesis and
__________
_________: formation of fatty layer
encasing axons
 Visual cortex myelinated by 1 year
 Frontal lobes, age 20 or beyond
Neural Pruning and Plasticity: Interaction
of Nature and Nurture
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_________: the brain is
“plastic” (malleable) during
early childhood before pruning
is complete
 Following a brain injury or
insult, plasticity allows other
brain regions to compensate
 Following childhood the
brain is less plastic
 Rehabilitation following a
brain injury will help to
compensate for the injury
(e.g following a stroke).
Basic Newborn States: Reflexes
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Reflexes:
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Instinctive, automatic
responses
Present at birth;
promote survival
____________________
____________________
____________________
Nutrition: Breast Milk
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Breast Milk: recommended for 1st six months
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Protects from diseases
Correlational studies show that breast-fed babies:
 are more alert during first two weeks
 experience fewer gastrointestinal problems and ear
infections
 are more resistant to day care diseases, colds and
flu
 are advanced in developmental tasks as toddlers
 appear to be superior in later measures of
intelligence in elementary school (cautious
assumption – next slide!)
Nutrition: Breast Milk

Breast Milk Studies: must consider 3rd variable –
Social Class
Mothers from higher SES may have more
opportunity to breast feed (lower SES mothers
may have to work).
Health - premature babies may not have the
opportunity
Health of the mother may deter breast feeding (HIV)
Social support and a culture that supports breast
feeding are crucial factors in the choice to breast
feed.
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Crying: First Communication
Signal
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Crying:
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Lifetime peak at about 5 weeks
Reflex dominated before the cortex is “on-line” at
4 months
Vital to survival (responsive parenting is a must!)
_________: frantic, continual crying during first 3
months
 Caused by immature digestive system
 Another expert’s suggestion: immature nervous
system
 May contribute to parental stress, but is
temporary!
Intervention: What Quiets a
Young Baby?
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Pacifier
__________
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Kangaroo Care
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Mirrors womb
Hold close to body in baby
sling
Infant Massage
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Helps to calm infants and
contributes to growth in
premature babies
Sleeping: Main Newborn State
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Newborns, 18 hrs. a day
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Note high % of sleep
states: drowsy, quiet, and
REM sleep
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Unlike adult sleep cycle,
newborns drop
immediately into REM
sleep
Newborns wake every 3-4
hours
6 months, may sleep 6 hrs.
a night
1 year, 12 hrs. a night and
naps during day
Sleep Cycles
Sensory and Motor Development
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Hearing
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Smell
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In the womb, fetuses can discriminate different
tones
Infants prefer smell of breast milk within the first
week
Taste:
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Infants stop sucking and wrinkle face in response
to bitter, sour, salty tastes
Avidly suck on sweet solutions
 Pain management technique - have infant suck
on sweet substance
Focusing on Faces
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Newborns prefer faces to
other stimuli, especially
mother’s face
Prefer attractive-looking
people
Infants mimic facial
expressions
Depth Perception: the Visual
Cliff Experiment

When 8 month-old
babies begin to crawl
they perceive
differences in depth
and fear heights.
 Notice survival
response!
 Video Joe Campos
Cognitive Development: Piaget
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Stage Approach
Studied his
children
Schemas
Assimilation
Accommodation
Adaptation
Cognition
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Sensorimotor Stage: birth to 2
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Explore world through senses
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_______________
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Repetitive action-oriented schemas (habits)
Primary (body-centered), Secondary
(environment), Tertiary (“little scientist”)
Through circular reactions, infant explores
and incorporates new information into
existing schemas
Sensorimotor Stage
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Stage 1: reflexes 0-1 month
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Proficiency at sucking, grasping
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Lack ability to deliberately grasp or suck
Stage 2: primary circular reactions 1-4 months
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Repetition of pleasurable behavior which occurs by chance (involves own body)
Stage 3: secondary circular reactions 4 – 8 months
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Repetition of pleasurable behavior which occurs by chance, but involves deliberate
manipulation of object in environment
Stage 4: purposeful coordination of secondary schemes 8-12months
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Combinations of actions (leaning and grasping) (looking, crawling, grasping)
Stage 5: tertiary circular reactions 12 – 18 months
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Exploration using new or novel actions
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Formation of trial and error discovery
Stage 6: mental solutions 18 – 24 months
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Thinking about problems to develop solutions
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Internalization of trial and error
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Accompanied by language formation
Tracking Early Thinking:
Sensorimotor Stage
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_____________: repeating an action
observed at an early time
Means-end behavior: about 1 yr., performing
a different action to reach a goal
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Flushing something down the toilet!
____________: even though a baby sees an
object hidden in a 2nd hiding place, he/she
goes back to the first hiding place to find it!
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Classic mistake in Sensorimotor stage
Baby approaches 1 year (little-scientist stage)
A-not-B Error: Sensorimotor
Stage-Video
Object-Permanence:
Sensorimotor Stage
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Understanding that objects exist even when we
can no longer see them.
In the early Sensorimotor stage, an object does
not exist unless the infant can see it!
Around 5-6 months, infants begin to look for
hidden objects
About 8 months develops object-permanence
(“little-scientist stage”)
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Peek-a-Boo a favorite game!!
Sequence of Language
Development
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Prelinguistic Period
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Crying at birth
_______(video) at 2 months
_________(video) at 6 months
Spoken Words- Video
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Appears at about 10 months
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Typically only a few words are known
By 18 months between 3 to 50 words
Two word utterances begin 18 to 24 months
_________(Video) appear at about 2 to 4 years
Language: Basic Principles
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_________ language abilities outpace
expressive language skills
Infant-directed speech
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Higher pitched, elongated vowels,
exaggerated tones
Attracts baby’s interest (heart rate
deceleration evidence of baby’s interest)