From Make me understand, parenting and health by Lukonge Achilees

Infant development. How your baby grew and matures

Introduction

This part covers parenting and child development of infants aged 0 to 2

The goals of this chapter is to survey what is known about how children develop between birth and age 24 months, a period known as infancy.

Children develop in many different ways at the same time. Different aspects of children’s development are never at rest or waiting for other parts to catch up. Instead, development is simultaneous. While physical growth and maturity are the most obvious signs that development is occurring, children also develop cognitively (mentally), socially, emotionally, and sexually. This chapter is organized so that each type of development is described separately and nothing important is left out.

The milestones of development are discussed in terms of easy to understand

measurements such as weight, height, or the presence or absence of reflexes. However, not all important aspects of development can be easily measured. Mental and emotional developments are difficult to measure directly. This describes the best available theories to understand what is occurring inside each child’s head.

The works of five theorists work are considered in the course of this book: Freud, Erikson, Kohlberg, Piaget, and Bronfenbrenner. Among these theorists, the works of Piaget and Erikson speak most directly to the infancy period of life covered here. Infancy corresponds to Piaget’s “Sensorimotor” stage of cognitive development, and to two of Erikson’s stages; the “trust vs. mistrust” stage during the first year of life, and the “autonomy vs. shame and doubt” stage that follows closely after. Piaget’s work describes how infants come to understand their world through their bodies and senses.

Erikson’s work describes how children develop an appreciation of both their individuality and simultaneous dependency on others, and how children’s attitudes towards themselves and others are influenced by their experiences and by the type of support and nurturing they receive.

Development is often described by referring to particular developmental milestones that are significant achievements of one sort or another such as crawling, walking, or first words. Developmental milestones are presented as occurring at particular ages. Even though developmental milestones do commonly occur at particular ages, children develop at their own pace. Some children will reach a given milestone early, while others will reach it later on. All of this is perfectly normal.

Infancy Physical development:

Baby Wasswa one of the twin from a homeless teenage mother being catered for at PTMOF

The first area of development to consider is physical development, which occurs in several important ways. Obviously, children grow in size and weight. As time goes on, they also become better able to move themselves around and to manipulate objects. Their senses become more refined. Each of these important types of physical development is covered in the following discussion.

Physical Development: Sensory Development

Piaget made infancy his “Sensorimotor” stage because he recognized that infants learn about their world by interacting with it through their senses. They don’t understand their environment very well at first, but are born exquisitely prepared to explore and learn. They learn how to make purposeful movements, how to make sense of things, how to speak, and how to perform other skills. All of these developments require babies to use all their senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.

Babies can feel and respond to pain and touch from birth, and this is an important first connection between infants and caregivers. They can feel hot and cold, hunger and satisfaction, soft and rough textures, pain and comfort, and cuddling and abandonment. This is why babies can often be soothed at birth by their caregivers’ warm hugs or a warm bottle.

As infants grow, they begin to touch objects in their environment with their hands, feet, and mouths to learn about them. When babies put toys and other things in their mouths, they are not trying to taste them as much as they are trying to feel the texture and structure. It is important for caregivers to keep babies’ environments clear of dangerous objects such as small objects or poisonous substances.

While babies learn about their environment through feeling things with their mouths, they also learn by tasting. The senses of taste and smell senses are intertwined. When infants are born, they have the ability to distinguish sweet, sour, and bitter tastes, but they will prefer sweet tastes and aromas, such as breast milk. In fact, a baby’s ability to taste is so specific that he or she can tell the difference between her own mothers’ breast milk and that of another woman. As babies start to get older, between ages 1 and 6 months, they begin to have a taste for saltier solutions. This will prepare them to eat solid foods later on. When babies begin to eat solid foods, somewhere around 6 months, they will prefer sweet foods to bitter foods, and fruits to vegetables. As more and more foods are added over the coming weeks, they will begin to develop their own individual taste preferences.

Babies can hear at birth, and doctors can test infants for hearing problems right after birth. As infants grow, their mental ability to process and use information they hear improves. At birth, babies will turn their heads toward sounds in their environment. Research has also shown that babies prefer more complex sounds, such as speech and music, to simple tonal sounds. Furthermore, babies can even begin to distinguish different speech sounds soon after leaving the womb. As babies begin to mature, between ages 1 and 6 months, they are able to locate where sounds come from in their environment and to compile sounds into more complex chunks, such as musical phrases. By age 6 months, babies begin sorting out speech sounds from their own language and ignoring speech sounds that they recognize as not from their own language.

While some senses are fully developed at birth, others require time to mature before they become refined. Unlike their abilities to smell or hear, babies are not able to see as well as adults do. They develop their acuity, color perception, and ability to focus as they mature in the first months. At birth, visual acuity is only 20/600, which means that most objects farther away only look like dark shadowy objects. Newborns can best see objects and faces that are held 8 to 14 inches from their face, which is about how far away a caregiver’s face is when holding a baby. Babies’ eyes develop

Quickly, and by age 2 or 3 months they have the ability to see a full spectrum, or range, of colors and can focus on objects just like adults.

At this point, they can also recognize their caregiver’s face and can tell the difference between other people’s faces. By about 6 to 8 months, they develop the visual acuity of that of adults, about 20/20, and can track or follow objects in their line of sight with increasing accuracy. By about 9 months, they also develop depth perception, or the ability to see and understand that different objects are different distances away. They will be able to understand that they are sitting on a couch and will have to climb down to reach the floor.

Babies are not simply passive consumers of sensory information. They actively make sense of the information they take in through their senses. This process has an actual effect on the quality of their brain development. Babies that are properly stimulated, cared for, and loved actually develop better (faster, more robustly, etc.) than babies who are neglected. Babies’ senses can be stimulated in many ways: listening to caregivers speaking, looking at different objects and colors, and playing with toys that have different textures. Babies literally need touch and affection from caregivers in order to grow and to thrive properly. Babies who do not receive appropriate touch and affection may ultimately have developmental problems.

Infancy physical development. Motor skills

Namatovu zaam ahomeless Mother delivered twins one named Miracle and another Blessing

Infants need to learn how to move and to use their bodies to perform various tasks, a process better known as motor development. Initially, babies’ movements are simply the uncontrolled, reflexive movements they are born with. Over time, they learn to move their body parts voluntarily to perform both gross (large) and fine (small) motor skills. In general, babies begin developing motor skills from the center of the body outward and from head to tail. They learn to control their head and neck before they learn to maneuver their arms; they learn to maneuver their arms before they learn to manipulate their fingers. Babies learn to move their torso before they learn how to move their arms and legs.

As babies learn skills and tasks, they will build new skills on top of old skills. It is important to remember that each child is unique. There is a general sequence of milestones or developmental markers that children achieve, but each child will progress through them at different rates, ages, and sequences. This chapter will often list ages at which children reach certain milestones. It’s important to remember that these are only estimates; children attain or achieve them at a wide and healthy range of ages.

When babies are born, they are equipped with a set of reflexes, or automatic actions. Some reflexes help them perform basic tasks, such as breathing freely and drinking milk, while other reflexes seem to have no real purpose. All of these reflexes can help doctors assess babies for any neurological problems at birth and as they grow. As infants mature in the first few months of life and begin developing the ability to voluntarily move and use their bodies, most of these reflexes gradually and naturally fade away. This chapter will review seven of the most prominent reflexes babies have: sucking, head turning, rooting, grasping, stepping, Moro response, and tonic neck.

The sucking reflex allows babies to drink milk and nourish themselves in the first days of life. This is a permanent ability, but as babies grow, they can control when they drink. Another permanent and life-supporting reflex is head turning. This reflex allows a baby to turn his head if something (a blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal) is blocking his airflow. Another reflex that also helps babies survive is the rooting reflex. When babies root, they may nuzzle their face and mouth into the caregiver’s chest or shoulder. This may help them find a food source, such as their mother’s breast; this helps the baby communicate to caregivers that they are hungry and ready to eat. Rooting disappears around 3 weeks of age.

The rest of the reflexes have less survival value but are still notable. For the first 3 to 4 months, babies have an amazing grasping ability and reflex. They will grasp anything placed in their palm and hold it with amazing strength for their size; some infants in the first weeks of life can support their entire body weight through that grasp. While this reflex may not have any survival function in modern times, it does help babies bond with caregivers and family in the first weeks of life. Similarly, for the first two months, babies will “step” with their legs if they are held vertically with their feet touching a surface. Even though this reflex disappears months before babies begin walking purposefully, experts believe stepping helps infants learn how their legs work and can be used. The Moro response is another reflex that is present during the first 6 months of life, but doesn’t seem to have a purpose in modern life.

A baby will arch her back, flail out, and then curl up if she feels as though she is being dropped. The final reflex this chapter will mention is the tonic neck. During the first 4 months, when babies lie awake on their backs with their heads facing to one side, they will extend the arm on the side of their body that they’re facing and flex the other arm at an angle, in a position that resembles a fencing pose. This reflex may help prepare them for voluntary reaching later in their development.

Infancy physical development. Gross motor skills

Baby senses learn to interact with the environment, learn to crawl, and walk

Infant reflexes begin to fade as babies use their senses to learn to interact with the environment around them and as their bodies grow stronger and mature. One way babies learn to use their bodies is by learning to achieve large physical tasks, or gross motor skills, such as crawling and walking. Once again, it’s important to remember that while the following chapter will discuss gross motor development milestones in general terms, every child is unique. Children will develop at their own speed and pace, and there is a wide range of healthy ages at which they can achieve these milestones. Milestones help organize and summarize this information easily and clearly.

Scientists have observed that motor skills generally develop from the center of the body outward and from head to tail. These developments don’t just occur by instinct. The more chances babies have to practice these skills, the more they will be able to grow and strengthen. This means babies need time and space to explore and manipulate objects in their environment and use their muscles, having “tummy time.” Caregivers can place babies on their belly on the floor so they have an opportunity to use those muscles. By around age 2 months, infants’ backs continue to strengthen, and they are able to raise their head and chest up off the ground and rest their body on their elbows when they’re lying on their stomachs. Around this time, they will also kick and bend their legs while lying on their stomachs; this helps prepare babies for crawling later. By around 3 months, babies continue to mature as they can hold themselves up for longer periods, up to several minutes, and begin to hold their bodies in symmetry. That means that the tonic neck reflex disappears, and they are able to hold each arm in the same position on both sides of their body while on their backs.

Babies continue to strengthen their muscles and improve control of their body parts as they grow. Around age 4 months, they can maintain control of their head and hold it steady while they’re sitting up with help or lying on their belly. They begin to roll their body from their belly to their back on their own. About a month later, they will then be able to roll from their back to their belly. Also around age 5 months, babies will wiggle all their limbs while they lie on their belly; this strengthens their crawling muscles. As with all physical development, skills build one on top of another. Around age 6 months, most infants can sit up by themselves for brief periods and can begin to put some weight on their legs as they’re held upright with some support.

As babies enter the second half of their first year, they become more mobile and can move themselves around their environment on their own. Caregivers need to be prepared to be more active as they follow the babies and to baby proof ( Babyproofing )their home so that dangerous situations and substances can be avoided. Babies are eager to explore

their newly expanded environment. Babies may begin to crawl around age 7 months. At around 8 months, babies can sit up by themselves for extended periods and can pull themselves to their feet while they hold onto something for leverage and support, such as a table or the edge of a couch. By the next month, age 9 months, babies can not only sit independently for a long time, but also reach and play with toys while maintaining their balance. At this time, babies can pull themselves up into a stand without support. This is a critical time for exercising these muscle groups. The use of baby walkers, or devices that hold babies upright while they move their legs to move around, can delay this process. Research has found that the use of these devices prevents babies from developing the core torso strength necessary for walking (before developing leg strength), which can then lead to difficulty walking or running in the future. For this reason, walkers and other similar devices should not be used.

Babies continue to build on their physical abilities, and around age 10 months, they can stand on their own for extended periods. They are making progress toward walking, picking up and putting down their feet while they stand. They may make their first hesitant steps as they walk while holding onto something such as a crib rail. The ability to walk improves as infants walk while holding onto caregivers’ hands around age 11 months, and begin making their own first toddling steps around age 12 months.

In the second year of life, toddlers continue to become more mobile and more agile. Around age 15 months, babies begin to climb stairs, high chairs, and furniture, but they will not yet be able to get back down once they reach the top. They begin to transition more smoothly from one position to another, such as from lying down to sitting up and from sitting up to standing up. By age 18 months, toddlers’ balance becomes more stable as they can move more easily on their feet around objects and begin walking backwards, sideways, in circles, and even running. At this point, they can also begin walking up stairs using their feet and using their hands to hold onto a handrail.

Near the end of their second year, toddlers begin to develop complex gross motor skills such as throwing objects for distance and kicking. They continue to refine and to become more fluid in their movements. Their walking and running gaits become more natural and mature and less toddler-like as their feet turn inward while they move. By age 24 months, they can jump in place and balance on one foot for a short period and may begin peddling their first tricycle. They can go up stairs easily on their own, even though they may need some help climbing back down. At the end of the second year, toddlers are very mobile and can run and walk quickly from one place to another; however, they are still refining their ability to stop themselves once they get started. Around this time, they may run into a few walls or unintentionally walk into a dangerous situation, such as off the sidewalk curb and into the street, simply because their brain can’t get the message to their feet fast enough to stop moving. It’s even more important at this time that caregivers monitor their environment for safety and urge rules such as holding an adult’s hand while crossing the street. Babyproofing

Infancy physical development. Fine motor skills

stages of development in infant from birth to 2 years

Fine motor skills develop along side gross motor skills. Beyond just learning how to use and manipulate their bodies in large movements, babies are learning how to use their hands and how to coordinate smaller movements with their senses, such as sight. Like the gross motor skill development, fine motor development comes gradually as infants build one skill on top of previous skills.

Like others before it, this chapter will discusses development in terms of age-related milestones. Once again, it is important to remember that children are unique and grow at their own rate and speed. There is a wide range of healthy ages at which babies can acquire these abilities. Theoretically, babies could develop ahead of the average on their gross motor skills and behind average with their fine motor skills, or babies could develop one milestone later than average but develop the next milestone before the average age. The important thing to gather from this chapter is the general pattern children follow as their bodies and minds mature, so you are best prepared to give adequate support and nurturing.

From birth to around 2 months, babies are “pre-reaching.” They will extend their arm and hand toward an object that interests them, but they will rarely be able to make hand contact with that object. It’s important to remember that in those two early months, baby’s vision is beginning to develop the acuity and focus needed to grab an object they see. As their eyesight matures, babies can reach with more accuracy and make contact with objects, usually around age 3 months. Between the ages of 3 and 4 months, babies begin holding objects between their palm and their enclosed fingers in a clumsy ulnar grasp. By age 4 months, they will want to practice that hold, and will reach for anything in their line of sight. In another month or so, babies will be able to transfer objects from one hand to the other, as they are now able to sit up and play.

It’s important to remember that at this age, 5 months, babies are able to handle and pick up larger objects, but they will still only be able to touch and scratch at smaller objects such as a Cheerio. By around age 6 months, babies are refining their ability to manipulate objects as they learn by using their hands and mouths.

In the second half of the first year, babies continue to mature in their ability to use their hands and can manipulate even smaller objects. Around age 7 months, they can grasp pellet-sized objects crudely between their thumbs and the side of their forefingers, and between ages 7 to 9 months, most babies can pick up and drink from a cup. By around age 9 months, babies refine their ability to grasp tiny objects as they hold them between their thumb and forefinger in a pincer grasp. Another refinement around age 9 months is that babies can now set down larger objects gently where they want to place them rather than just flinging them down when they’re finished with them. Furthermore, by around age 10 or 11 months, they can also place smaller pellet-sized objects, like bite-sized cereal, where they want to, such as in a bowl or cup. By age 12 months, babies can now use their hands independently of one another in play. This will enable them to manipulate tools in the next year.

In the second year of life, toddlers begin using their hands for more tasks than just playing with toys and eating. By around age 15 months, toddlers begin to use tools such as cups, spoons, and crayons. They can begin feeding themselves with utensils. They can also open cabinets and drawers, so parents need to be sure that their homes are baby proofed in ways such as putting hazardous chemicals and cleaning supplies in high cabinets and putting locks on cabinets and drawers that are not safe for young children ( Babyproofing ). At this age, they can also turn pages in a book and build towers of 2 to 3 large blocks. By 18 months, toddlers are refining their ability to use tools such as crayons, and they can now draw lines and rough circles rather than just scribbling on a page. By age 21 months, they also have the ability to undress themselves and help dress themselves, as they may be able to manipulate larger buttons or zippers. By age 24 months, toddlers can use their hands with more dexterity as they can unwrap birthday presents or do simple puzzles. Their fine motor skills will continue to improve in the coming years.

Infancy physical development. Average growth

Kids children engaged in art and craft with pencils and paper learning and education concept

Babies grow at an amazing rate in the first months and years of life as they rapidly reproduce cells and grow in length and weight. In the first 2 years, babies grow to almost half their adult height and can quadruple their birth weight. During this period, it’s important for caregivers to take their infants to the pediatrician for well-baby checkups (during which they will be weighed and measured) on a regular schedule to make sure they are growing at the appropriate rate. During the first year, babies will continue to increase their level of body fat. This “baby fat” allows a baby to maintain their body temperature. As babies grow in size and begin to build muscle, this baby fat will begin to disappear.

In the first two years of life, a growing child’s bodily proportions also change. When infants are born, most of their body mass is in their head. As they grow older, the rest of their bodies catch up.

Just as they develop their motor skills from the center of the body outward and from their head to their feet, they also grow and gain mass in that order. Babies grow first in their chest and trunk and then in their arms and legs. Over the first year of life, babies’ bones and skeletons ossify, or harden. When babies are born, their bones are softer and more like cartilage. This allows them to be flexible, fit inside the mother’s womb, and pass through the birth canal. However, as their bones harden in the first year, the skeleton is better able to support their weight during activities such as crawling and walking. Babies also have “soft spots” in their skull because some parts of the skull haven’t fused together yet. By age 2 years, babies’ skulls are as hard as adult skulls, but in the first months, caregivers need to be careful how they handle the baby and protect their heads.

As noted before, infants grow exponentially in the first 2 years. In the first 3 months, they grow up to 2.5 inches and 3 pounds. Between the ages 4 to 6 months, they grow another 2.5 inches and gain an average of 4 pounds. Between 7 and 9 months, they grow an average of 2.5 inches and 4 pounds. Between 10 and 12 months, they grow another 2.5 inches and another 3 pounds. During the second year, toddlers grow about 1 inch and 2 pounds about every 3 months. Children’s growth slows considerably after age 2 years

Infancy coginitive development

Intellectual development in children, here two babies Matha and ketty learn some fine skills

Babies are not only growing physically during the first 2 years of life, but also cognitively (mentally). Every day while they interact with and learn about their environment they are creating new connections and pathways between nerve cells both within their brains, and between their brains and bodies. While physical growth and change is easily observed and measured in precise terms such as in inches and pounds, cognitive change and development is a little harder to determine as clearly. Therefore, much about what experts know about mental and cognitive development is based on the careful observation of developmental theorists and their theories, such as Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Erickson’s psychosocial stages. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model also helps explain infant mental growth to some extent.

According to Piaget, newborns interact with their environment entirely through reflexive behaviors. They do not think about what they’re going to do, but rather follow their instincts and involuntary reactions to get what they need: food, air, and attention. Piaget believed that as babies begin to grow and learn about their environment through their senses, they begin to engage in intentional, goal-directed behaviors. In other words, they begin to think about what they want to accomplish, how to accomplish it, and then they do it. This is also when infants develop object permanence, which is the ability to understand that something still exists even if it can’t be seen. These two milestones, goal-directed behavior and object permanence, are the highlights and major accomplishments of infant cognitive development.

Piaget separated infancy into six sub-stages, which have been adjusted somewhat over the years as new research and discoveries have occurred The sub-stages include: reflexive activity, primary circular reactions, secondary circular reactions, coordination of secondary schemes, tertiary circular reactions, and beginning or representational thought. While these sub-stages sound highly confusing and complicated, they will be explained in more detail in the next paragraphs in order to simplify them and highlight the important aspects of each.

The first sub-stage is reflexive activity, which lasts from birth to approximately 1 month. According to Piaget, while babies are engaging in reflexive actions such as sucking when offered a bottle or the breast, or other reflexes covered earlier in this chapter, they are learning about their environment and how they can interact with it. Babies don’t think about behaving reflexively; they simply act out those reflexes automatically.

The second sub-stage is primary circular reactions, which spans the ages of 1 to 4 months. During this time, babies intentionally repeat actions that bring them pleasure and desired outcomes. In other words, they do things on purpose because it feels good or it gets them what they want. For example, a small infant may suck on her fist because it feels good to her and it soothes her.

Researchers believe that babies of this age may also develop expectancy about cause and effect situations. Babies will begin to see that a pattern of events is connected, and begin to expect the second event after they experience the first event. For example, a baby of this age may learn that when they see a bottle, they expect they will soon be fed. Babies’ expectancies about the predictability of their environment form the foundation of Erickson’s observation that young infants learn to either trust or mistrust their environment. If a baby learns the pattern that they have a need, such as hunger or discomfort, and that need is regularly addressed, they learn to expect their needs to be met and they learn to trust. On the other hand, if babies learn a pattern that they have needs and those needs are not regularly addressed, they will learn to expect that their needs will not be met and they learn to mistrust the world around them.

Next, babies begin to show secondary circular reactions. This sub-stage lasts from about age 4 to 8 months. During this sub-stage, babies begin to repeat actions onto objects outside their body that bring them pleasure and desired outcomes. The difference between this sub-stage and the previous sub-stage is that during this period, babies move beyond just repeating actions to their own body and repeat actions onto their environment. During this time, babies learn by feeling things out; they use their mouths, hands, and other body parts to touch and to experiment with toys and other objects around them. For example, by about age 5 months, babies will track an object with their eyes, even after it leaves their direct line of vision. They will turn their head or even their whole body to continue watching something that grabs their attention. While they’re taking in information and practicing cause and effect experiments, their memory continues to grow stronger.

Between ages 8 to 12 months, babies enter the coordination of secondary schemes sub-stage. During this time, they begin to show intentional means-end behavior, which means that babies begin to put different activities together to achieve a goal because they’ve learned how cause and effect works. Infants are now building on what they learned in the first three stages in order to get what they want. Babies at this age will mimic what they see others doing. If they see their caretaker clap, they will clap.

They’ll repeat the same sort of experiment with different objects to see how these events are similar or different and if there are different outcomes. For example, they may practice dropping different objects to see what happens. They’ll learn that when they stand up and drop a plastic toy on the hardwood floor, it will make a banging noise, but when they drop a stuffed plush animal on the same floor, it will make no real sound.

Another major development during this period is that of object permanence, the understanding that something still exists even if it can’t be seen. Before now, babies believed, in an implicit way, that when something moved from their sight, it no longer continued to exist. Now babies begin to understand that something might still exist even if they can’t see it. This is how the game “Peek-a-Boo” helps babies learn. Even though they can’t see their caretaker’s face hidden behind the blanket, their caretaker continues to exist and will reappear shortly.

Next, between the ages of 12 to 18 months, toddlers enter the tertiary (third) circular reactions sub-stage. During this period, toddlers continue to explore their environment and create experiments to see how things work. They will play with anything they can find; however, they do not yet realize that certain things like knives, electric outlets, and pots on top of a hot stove can hurt them. For this reason, parents and caregivers need to be vigilant about keeping their household safe by babyproofing their home.

Object permanence is not achieved all at once, but rather, gradually emerges.

KIDS IN THIS STAGE REALISE THAT SOMETHING CAN BE HIDDEN

During this sub-stage, babies come to realize that something can be hidden and moved and still exist. Now, babies will look for an object that has been hidden or moved. As babies’ ability to build memories grows and incorporates all their senses, they develop cross-modal recognition memory. This means that children are able to see a mental picture of an object they are holding in their

hand in their mind, without actually looking at it. They remember that object as a complete package through all their senses; they remember its texture and size in their hands, its sound through their ears, and perhaps even its smell.

Finally, between the ages of 18 and 24 months, toddlers enter the beginning of the representational thought sub-stage.

 During this time, babies begin to be symbol-oriented, which means that they create a general image of things in their minds and retain them as examples of some objects. They may create in their mind a picture of a stuffed bear, and use it to represent other stuffed animals he may play with or later see. Because of this, babies may look for their favorite stuffed animal in the toy basket because they know that’s where it’s kept even if they didn’t see their caregivers put it there. As well, babies’ recall and recognition memory also improve greatly. Around age 21 months, toddlers learn scripts, or routines, about how certain things are done. For example, they learn that to “go somewhere in the car,” Dad and toddler go out to the garage, Dad buckles baby in the car seat, and then Dad climbs in the front seat and starts the car.

There are other, more specific mental milestones during this period as well. Around age 21 months, babies grasp the idea of past, present, and future. They begin to understand things categorically, which is to say that they become capable of recognize a shirt as a shirt, even though they don’t all shirts do not look the same. They begin to recognize what things are alike and why, and what other objects fit or do not fit into particular categories. Toddlers keep building their capacity to think symbolically and categorically Around age 24 months, they develop the capacity to pretend and imagine things that aren’t there in front of them. As they achieve this new level of imaginative thought, they take their first steps beyond concrete thinking (e.g., only being able to think about things that are in front of you).

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