Infant's development and growth
Babyhood and the beginning of
things— this is indeed a fascinating subject. It is fraught with
interest to parents and to all teachers who recognize the importance of
the first years, and that John at five years is the result of Baby John
and what experiences he may have encountered in the first five years.
During the first year a great measure of growth is achieved. In the first few weeks most of the baby's time is spent in sleeping. He seems to have very little awareness of the external world, and takes no active part in it except to gain nourishment. But by the end of twelve months he presents a different picture. He is struggling manfully to express himself vocally, and to achieve locomotion, and though very much dependent on the good services of the adults around him when in difficulties, he is eminently curious about the external world and extremely keen to explore it.
There are three main types of motor behavior in infancy—positive,
negative, and spontaneous movements. Positive movements are at first
mainly connected with feeding. The new-born baby is most concerned with
feeding in his waking moments, and it is natural that positive
movements should be first shown towards the mother or nurse who feeds
him, and thence should extend to movements connected with looking,
listening, and grasping. Only about 3 per cent of the infant's total
activities at birth consists of positive movements, but by the end of
the first year they have extended to about 72 per cent.
Negative movements are more
evident at birth and are said to constitute about 7 per cent of the
infant's activity. These are shown as flight or shock responses to
external stimuli such as powerful light or sound stimuli. At first the
infant's powers of defense or adaptability are very limited. Gradually,
as he becomes more accustomed to the external world, as he finds that
it does not always bring him, like Jonathan Jo, " a wheelbarrow full of
surprises," the negative movements tend to decrease.
The third type of motor behavior characteristic of infancy—spontaneous movements—is said to represent only about 1 per cent of the new-born infant's total activity, but these movements gradually increase, and are said to predominate after the first year. They at first appear purposeless, and are probably in response to internal stimuli, and consist of random movements of arms and legs. Later they take the form of all types of exploratory and investigatory movements of hands and legs and body, and from the point of view of the child's general development are very important, because it is by means of such activity that the child builds up a knowledge of his external environment.