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Infant Development. Chapter 9 Section 2 http:// Infant Development. Newborns come into the world with more responses than we often think.

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infant development

Infant Development

Chapter 9 Section 2

infant development1
Infant Development

Newborns come into the world with more responses than we often think.

The changes that take place within the first two years of development are remarkable.


A reflex is an unlearned, automatic response to a particular stimulus.

infant reflexes
Infant Reflexes
  • Babies are born with a number of natural reflexes.
  • Rooting reflex: the reflexive turning of the newborn’s head in the direction of a touch on its cheek.
    • Has important survival value
    • Helps the baby obtain nourishment by orienting its head toward the breast or bottle.
infant reflexes1
Infant Reflexes

Eyeblink reflex: The reflexive blinking of the eyes that protects the newborn from bright light and foreign objects.

Sucking reflex: Rhythmic sucking in response to stimulation of the tongue or mouth.

more reflexes
More Reflexes

Some reflexes appear to be remnants of our evolutionary heritage that may no longer serve any adaptive function (but, you still need to know them).

meaningless reflexes
Meaningless Reflexes

Moro reflex: If exposed to a loud noise or its head falls backward, the infant extends its arms, arches its back and them brings its arms toward each other as if its attempting to grab ahold of something.

meaningless reflexes1
Meaningless Reflexes
  • Palmar reflex: Curling of the fingers around an object that touches the palm.
    • The grip is so strong that an infant can be lifted by its hands.
    • These reflexes may have had survival value by preventing infants from falling as their mothers carried them around all day.
meaningless reflexes2
Meaningless Reflexes

Babinski reflex: Fanning out and curling of the toes and inward twisting of the foot when the sole of the foot is stroked.


Most newborn reflexes disappear within the first six months of life.

The appearance and later disappearance of particular reflexes at expected periods are taken as signs of normal neurological development.

sensory perceptual and learning abilities in infancy
Sensory, Perceptual, and Learning Abilities in Infancy

Infants are capable of sensing a wide range of sensory stimuli and of learning simple responses and retaining them in memory

sensory and perceptual ability
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

Vision is the slowest to develop

At birth infant vision is 20/400

At age 5 it is 20/20

Infants prefer facelike patterns to nonfacelike patterns.

sensory and perceptual ability1
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

By 1 month, an infant can follow a moving object.

By 2 months, the infant has developed basic color vision.

The visual cliff apparatus (Page 308)

sensory and perceptual ability2
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

Newborns are sensitive to sounds falling within the frequency of the human voice.

They can discern their mother’s voice from other voices (even fetuses respond to their mother’s voices).

Within a few months infants can differentiate between speech sounds such as “ma” and “ba”.

sensory and perceptual ability3
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

From 5 to 6 days old, newborns can detect their mother’s odor.

Newborns can also discriminate between different tastes and show preference between them (sweet tasting things are preferred).

sensory and perceptual ability4
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

Shortly after birth, infants begin making meaningful discriminations between stimuli.

They can recognize a scrambled picture of their mother’s face just as well as a properly arranged picture of their mother’s face.

sensory and perceptual ability5
Sensory and Perceptual Ability

By 4 to 6 months, babies can discriminate among happy, angry and neutral facial expressions.

Researchers aren’t sure if babies know what different facial expressions mean.