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Part II. Chapter Five . The First Two Years: Infant and Toddlers. Body Changes Brain Development Senses and Motor Skills Public Health Measures. “Adults don’t change much in a year or two.

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part ii

Part II

Chapter Five

The First Two Years: Infant and Toddlers

Body Changes

Brain Development

Senses and Motor Skills

Public Health Measures

Prepared by Madeleine Lacefield Tattoon, M.A.

“Adults don’t change much in a year or two.

Their hair might grow longer, grayer, or thinner; they might be a little fatter; or they might learn something new.

But if you saw friends you hadn’t seem for two years, you’d recognize them immediately.”

“By contrast, if you cared for newborn 24 hours a day for a month, went away for two years, and then came back,you might not recognized him or her, because the baby would have quadrupled in weight, grown taller by more than a foot, and sprouted a new head of hair.
  • Behavior would have changed, too. Not much crying, but some laughter and fear—including of you.”
“A year or two is not much compared with the 75 or so years of the average life span. However, in two years newborns reach half their adult height, talk in sentences, and express almost every emotion—not just joy and fear but also love, jealousy, and shame.”
body changes
Body Changes
  • In infancy
    • growth is fast
    • neglect can be severe
    • gain needs to be monitored
    • health check-up need to include
      • height, weight and head circumference
body size
Body Size
  • rapid growth
      • double their birth weight by the 4th month and triple by the 1st birthday
      • physical growth slows in the 2nd year
      • by 24 months weight is about 30 lbs, height about 32”-36”
    • these numbers are “norms”
body size8
Body Size
  • “norms”
    • an average or standard for a particular population
  • “particular population”
    • a representative sample of North American infants
  • “percentiles”
    • a number that is midway between 0 and 100, with ½ the children above it and ½ below it
body size9
Body Size
  • Weight increase in the early months is fat, providing insulation for warmth and nourishment
  • Nourishment keeps the brain growing, if teething or illness interfere with eating
  • When nutrition is temporarily inadequate, the body stops growing but not the brain
    • this is known as a phenomenon called “head-sparing”
  • Infants sleep about 17 hours or more a day
  • Regular and ample sleep correlates with normal brain maturation, learning, emotional regulation, and psychological adjustment in school and within the family
    • Over the first month the amount of time spent in each type or stage of sleep changes
    • Newborns dream a lot, or at least they have a high proportion of “REM sleep”
  • REM sleep
    • rapid eye movement sleep is a stage of sleep characterized by flickering eyes behind closed lids, dreaming, and rapid brain waves
  • Sleep Patterns can be…
    • affected by birth order
      • first born typically receive more attention
    • diet
      • parents might respond to predawn cries with food, and/or play (babies learn to wake up night after night)
    • child-rearing practices
      • “Where should infants sleep?”
        • co-sleeping or bed-sharing
    • brain maturation
brain development
Brain Development
  • the newborn’s skull is disproportionately large
  • large enough to hold the brain, which at birth is 25% of the adult brain
  • the neonate’s body is typically 5% of the adult weight
  • by age 2 the brain is almost 75% of the adult brain weight
  • the child’s total body weight is only about 20% of its adult weight
basic brain structures
Basic Brain Structures
  • Neurons are one of the billions of nerve cells in the central nervous system, especially the brain.
  • Located in the brain or in the brain stem
    • the region that controls automatic responses, I.e., heartbeat, breathing, temperature, and arousal
  • 70% of the neurons are in the cortex
basic brain structures15
Basic Brain Structures
  • The cortex is crucial for humans…
    • 80% of the human brain materials in the cortex
    • in other mammals the cortex is proportionally smaller, and non-mammals have no cortex
    • most thinking, feeling, and sensing take place in the cortex, although other parts of the brain join in.
basic brain structures16
Basic Brain Structures
  • Areas of the cortex specialize in particular functions:
    • visual
    • auditory
    • an area dedicated to the sense of touch for each body part
    • regional specialization within the cortex occurs not only for motor skills and senses but also for aspects of cognition
basic brain structures17
Basic Brain Structures
  • Between brain areas, neurons are connected to other neurons by intricate networks of nerve fibers called axons and dendrites
    • a neuron has a single axon and numerous dendrites, which spread out like the branches of a tree
    • axons and neurons meet the dendrites of other neurons at intersections called synapses which are critical communication links within the brain
basic brain structures19
Basic Brain Structures
  • Transient Exuberance and Pruning
    • The fivefold increase in dendrites in the cortex occurs in the 24 months after birth, with about 100 trillion synapses being present at age 2
    • The expanded growth is followed by pruning in which unused neurons and misconnected dendrites atrophy and die
    • Synapses, dendrites, and even neurons continue to form and die throughout life, though more rapidly in infancy than at any other time
basic brain structures20
Basic Brain Structures
  • Experience Shapes the Brain
    • brain structure and growth depends on genes and experiences
    • some dendrites wither away because they are underused; no experiences have caused them to send a message to the axons of other neurons.
basic brain structures21
Basic Brain Structures
  • Stress and the Brain
    • the role of experience in brain development begins when the brain produces cortisol and other hormones in response to stress, which happen throughout life
basic brain structures22
Basic Brain Structures
  • Experience-expectant refers to brain functions that require certain basic common experiences, which an infant can be expected to have in order to develop normally
  • Experience-dependent refers to brain functions that depend on particular, variable experience and that therefore may or may not develop in a particular infant
basic brain structures23
Basic Brain Structures
  • Basic, common experiences must happen for normal brain maturation to occur
  • in contrast, dependent experiences might happen. Because of them, one brain differs from another
  • experience varies; language babies hear or how their mothers reacts to frustration
  • all people are similar, but each person is unique, because of early experiences
basic brain structures24
Basic Brain Structures
  • The last part of the brain to mature is the prefrontal cortex
    • The area for anticipation, planning, and impulse control
    • Virtually inactive in early infancy
    • Gradually becomes more efficient over the years of childhood and adolescence
basic brain structures25
Basic Brain Structures
  • Implications for Caregivers
    • Early brain growth is rapid and reflects experience…
      • caressing a newborn,
      • talking to a preverbal infant
      • showing affection
    • …are essential to develop that person’s full potential
basic brain structures26
Basic Brain Structures

The human brain is designed to grow and adapt

  • some plasticity is retained throughout life
  • the brain protects itself from overstimulation
  • babies adjust to understimulation
basic brain structures27
Basic Brain Structures
    • Plasticity and Orphans
senses and motor skills
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Sensorimotor stage
    • cognition develops from the senses and motor skills
    • depends on sensory experiences and early movement
  • within hours of birth vital organs are functioning, assessing basic senses and motor responses
sensation and perception
Sensation and Perception
  • All the senses function at birth
    • open eyes, sensitive ears, and responsive noses, tongues, and skin
  • Very young babies attend to everything
    • Infants don’t focus on anything in particular
    • To about age one taste is the primary way humans learn about objects
sensation and perception30
Sensation and Perception
  • Sensation is the response of a sensory system…
    • eyes, ears, skin, tongue, nose
  • …when it detects a stimulus
sensation and perception31
Sensation and Perception
  • Perception is the mental processing of sensory information…
    • the brain notices and processes a sensation…
  • when the brain interprets a sensation…
  • Infant’s brains are attuned to experiences that are repeated, striving to make sense of them
senses and motor skills32
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Hearing
    • Hearing is acute at birth
    • Certain sounds trigger reflexes
    • Sudden noises startle newborns
    • Rhythmic sounds soothe them and put them to sleep
senses and motor skills33
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Seeing
    • At birth vision is the least mature
    • The infant eyes are sensitive to bright light even though the eyes open in mid-pregnancy
    • Newborns are “legally blind” they can only see objects 4” – 30” away
senses and motor skills34
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Seeing
    • At two months infants look more intensely at faces and often smile
    • At three months infants look more closely at the eyes and mouth
  • The ability to focus the two eyes in a coordinated manner in order to see one image is known as binocular vision
senses and motor skills35
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Tasting, Smelling and Touching
senses and motor skills36
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Tasting, Smelling and Touching
    • At birth the senses of taste, smell and touch function and rapidly adapt to the social world
    • As infants learn their caregiver’s smell and touch (handling) they relax and cuddle
    • Over time infants become responsive to whose touch it is and what it communicates
senses and motor skills37
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Early sensation seems to have two goals:
    • Social interaction
      • To respond to familiar caregivers
    • Comfort
      • To be soothed amid the disturbances of infant life
senses and motor skills38
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Motor Skill is the learned ability to move some part of the body, from a large leap to a flicker of the eyelid.


senses and motor skills39
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Newborns have many reflexes, some of which disappear with maturation (a reflex is an involuntary response to a particular stimulus
senses and motor skills40
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Reflexes
    • three sets are critical for survival
      • that maintain oxygen supply
      • that maintain constant body temperature
      • that manage feeding
senses and motor skills41
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills are physical abilities involving large body movements (gross meaning “big”)
    • walking
    • jumping
  • Walking progress
    • from reflexive,
    • to hesitant
    • to adult-supported stepping
    • to a smooth coordinated gait
senses and motor skills42
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
    • Three factors combine to allow toddlers to walk
      • muscle strength
      • brain maturation within the motor cortex
      • practices
senses and motor skills43
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Fine Motor Skills are physical abilities involving small body movements, especially of the hands and fingers (fine in this text means “small”)
    • drawing
    • picking up a coin
senses and motor skills44
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Ethnic Variation
    • healthy infants develop skills in the same sequence
    • they vary in the age at which they acquire them
senses and motor skills46
Senses and Motor Skills
  • Genes are only a small part of most ethnic differences
  • Cultural patterns of child rearing can affect sensation, perception, and motor skills
public health measures
Public Health Measures
  • 8 billion children were born between 1950 – 2005
  • 2 billion died before age 5
    • Deaths could be twice this if not for:
      • Child care
      • Preventive care – immunization
      • Clean water
      • Adequate nutrition
      • Medial treatment, etc.
public health measures48
Public Health Measures
  • Immunization is a process that stimulates the body’s immune system to defend against attack by a particular contagious disease (immunization acquired either naturally, by having the disease or though vaccination)
public health measures49
Public Health Measures
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
    • die unexpectedly in their sleep
    • No apparent cause of death
    • 1990 in the U.S., 5000 babies died of SIDS, 1 in 800
  • Breast is Best
    • Good nutrition starts with mother’s milk
      • Colostrum, a thick, high-calorie fluid secreted by the woman’s breast at the birth of a child.
      • About 3 days later the breast begins to produce milk
      • Breast fed babies are less likely to get sick
  • Malnutrition
    • protein-calorie malnutrition is a condition in which a person does not consume sufficient food of any kind
    • the deprivation can result in several illnesses, severe weight loss, and sometimes death
    • to measure a child’s nutritional status, compare weight and height with the "norms"