Human Development: The Stages of Infancy

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The stage of infancy lasts from birth until approximately two years of age (Sigelman & Rider, 2010). The physical development from infant to child occurs in a cephalocaudal direction: the head and upper body develop prior to the lower body (Sigelman & Rider, 2010). Because of the rapid development at this stage children need to get good solid nutrition and need to be watched closely as they are often unable to coordinate their body or understand the dangers of certain situations (e.g., such as when my one-year old cousin put his finger in an electrical outlet). During this period a great deal of developing and learning occurs. Learning is facilitated through environmental cues, such as the behavior and actions of parents. Very basic skills become mastered throughout this period such as nursing, crying, motor coordination, and the ability to represent images with simple language (Sigelman & Rider, 2010). There have been many theorists that have described these changes. Jean Piaget was concerned with the cognitive development of the child. He studied the development of the child's ability to think, represent events mentally, and manipulate symbols. Piaget proposed four stages of cognitive development from infancy to adulthood: the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages (Eysenck & Keane, 2010). Abraham Maslow has been noted as the seminal proponent of humanistic psychology. Maslow is most famous for his outlining of a hierarchy
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