infants born at the same time may be very different. Some infants
are very quiet and sleep a lot. Other infants are very active. Accepting
these differences will make it easier to take care of infants and
help them grow and develop.
A child that walks or talks at a younger age than another child
is not necessarily "better" or more advanced. This guide
will share characteristics of most infants. These characteristics
are divided into three main areas: physical (body), social-emotional
(getting along with others), and intellectual (thinking and language)
development. All age ranges given are approximate.
Remember that infants are human. They have needs and feelings.
Infants look and act differently. Let each infant be himself or
herself. Adapt to each infant's behavior instead of pushing the
infant to be more like other infants.
Birth to Six Months
Physical Development - At birth,
infants cannot control their body movements. Most of their movements
are reflexes. Their nervous system is not fully developed. During
the first months, infants can see clearly objects that are about
10 inches away from their faces. By six months, their vision is
more fully developed. By four months, most babies have some control
of their muscles and nervous system. They can sit with support,
hold their head up for short periods of time, and can roll from
their side to their stomach. By five months, most babies can roll
Social and Emotional Development - They
begin to develop trust as their parents meet their needs such as
changing their diapers when needed, feeding them when they are hungry,
and holding them when they cry. When frightened, infants cry and
look surprised and afraid. They cry to express anger, pain and hunger.
It is their way of communicating. They are easily excited or upset.
They need to be cradled and comforted. It seems as if they cannot
tell where their bodies end and someone else's begins. Infants smile
in response to a pleasant sound or a full stomach. At about six
weeks, they smile in response to someone else. By four months, they
smile broadly, laugh when pleased, and learn to recognize faces
and voices of parents.
Intellectual Development - Infants
babble, coo and gurgle. They study their hands and feet. They turn
to locate the source of sounds. Infants can focus on and follow
moving objects with their eyes. They explore things with their mouths.
They put anything they can hold into their mouths. They cry in different
ways to express hunger, anger and pain. They forget about objects
that they cannot see.
to Twelve Months
Physical Development - Infants
still take a nap in the morning and afternoon. They start to eat
and sleep at regular times. They eat three meals a day and drink
from bottles at various times. They start using a cup and a spoon
to feed themselves. Infants can sit alone. They crawl with their
stomach touching the floor, and they creep on their hands and knees.
By eight months, they can reach for and hold objects. They can pick
up objects with their thumb and forefinger and let objects go (drop
things). They start to throw things. They pull up to stand, they
stand holding onto furniture, and they can walk when led. By the
time they are 12 months old, most babies can weigh three times what
they weighed at birth and gain about an inch per month in length.
The average infant at one year may be between 2630 inches
Social and Emotional Development - Infants
respond when you say their name. They begin to fear strangers. They
begin to fear being left by their parents. They get angry and frustrated
when their needs are not met in a reasonable amount of time. Infants
will talk to themselves in front of a mirror. They begin to learn
what is and is not allowed. Eye contact begins to replace some of
the physical contact that younger infants seek.
Intellectual Development - Infants
wave bye-bye and play pat-a-cake. They respond to simple directions.
They look for things not in sight. Infants make sounds like "dada"
and "mama." They begin to pretend by acting out familiar
activities. They make sounds that can be understood by people who
know them well. They repeat actions that cause a response such as
when given a rattle, they will shake it and laugh. By 12 months,
many infants speak their first understandable words.
Home | Doing Business | Ages
& Stages | Caring
for Kids | Make
Your Own Flyer | Babysitting
Puzzle | About this Site | Additional Resources | Frequently Asked Questions | Feedback