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INFANCY AND

TODDLERHOOD
 
● Infancy is typically from birth to age one. 
● Toddlerhood is from ages one to about 2 
 
Physical Development 
In infants, or neonates, physical changes can be very 
apparent! In the first year, infants height increases by 
50 percent, and 75 percent by age two into toddlerhood 
(Berk, 2013)! Physical development is something that 
occurs very quickly in infants, but slows down a bit into 
toddlerhood. One other important aspect to remember 
about these periods of development, is that all children 
grow at different rates at different times! Typically, 
what is seen in infants is a quick use of fine and gross 
motor skills by sitting up, crawling, grabbing objects, 
standing with assistance and eventually walking within 
the first 18 months of life (Zukauskas, 2018)! 
Eventually, this work will benefit the child in their 
toddler years. With constant stimulation, toddlers will 
be able to run, climb, and even stacks blocks on top of 
each other (Zukauskas, 2018).   

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Language Development  
Language is also an area of development in this 
timeframe that really flourishes! Infants can easily   
detect parts of their native language.With infants, 
they start to use beginning sequences to speak. At 
just 2 months infants are making vowel types 
sounds, or better referred to as “cooing” (Berk, 
2013). Around the ages of 6 to 8 months, infants can 
detect phonemes, which are small changes in 
language and comprise them into phonemic 
categories to produce their native language (Berk, 
2013). This is why around this time, many infants can 
say “ma-ma”. With toddlers, this communication 
becomes more advanced than infancy. They begin to 
have the ability to create two to four word 
sentences and repeat words they hear (Zukauskas, 
2018). So be sure to watch what you say around your 
Photo Retrieved from ​https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1377681​ little ones, because they take it all in!
What is also interesting, is that many infants and toddlers learn language from seeing adults move 
their mouths.. Infants as early as 4 months are able​ ​to distinguish their native language, just by 
watching someone move their lips in a video (Berk, 2013). It is outstanding the amount of 
development a child can make lingually just through mouth movement alone! With toddlers, they 
start to put words together. In their second year of life, children work more towards 
experimenting with phonemes to focus on sounds within a word (Berk, 2013).  
 
Cognitive Development 
Many people say the phrase “children’s minds are 
like sponges”. This is a phrase that describes the 
cognitive development in this timeframe perfectly! 
A theory created by Jean Piaget discusses 
cognitive development through life and establishes 
stages of cognition on children. This theory would 
best give examples to how children develop. Infants 
are very explorative, especially in their younger 
infant years. From birth to age two, Piaget 
discussed that children were in a ​Sensorimotor 
stage​ of development where children are using 
their senses more than their mental state to take 
in information such as grasping, sucking, pulling, etc. 
(Zukauskas, 2018). This while senses are mainly 
used, is the building blocks for cognitive 
development. This stage happens through infancy  
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and the beginning stages of toddlerhood. After age 2, they begin to fall into what Piaget called the 
Preoperational stage ​of development. This is accompanied by the use of pretend play or make 
believe play using this as symbology to create mental representations (Berk,2013). 
 
Social/Emotional Development  
In the early stages of life, in infancy, the understanding of social and emotional cues increase from 
prior to birth. Some believe that infants understand emotions through a built in process called 
social contagion ​and others believe that they learn through operant conditioning (Berk, 2013). 
Regardless of whether it is one or the other, infants are able to see and differentiate emotions 
very easily. Toddlers on the other hand, begin to take emotions of other people into consideration. 
This is something that is called ​social referencing​. This is what toddlers do by looking at other 
people’s emotional reactions to assess situations (Berk, 2013). Based on what a parents reacts to 
and how they react, a toddler will see that and judge if they feel safe and comfortable. This is 
important to have for later in life to base judgement on certain situations. 
 
Moral Reasoning/Self-regulation 
In infancy, we do not see much moral development of self-regulation in the first year. Around 12 
months we do see the beginning of self-control through compliance, which is awareness of 
expectations and guidelines given by caregivers (Berk, 2013). This is an indication that once children 
hit age one, they understand right from wrong in a more conscious way. Higher self-regulation and 
moral development occur within the second year because children at this age need to have the 
ability to think for themselves (Berk, 2013). This thinking for themselves allows them to learn and 
develop their moral behavior and self-regulation. They can then begin working on creating 
verbalizations based on that consciousness like saying they will not touch something because “mama” 
or “dada” say so. 
 
 
Signs to look for​ ​Photo Retrieved from:
https://pxhere.com/en/photo/814475 
While children do develop and grow at their own pace, there are some signs 
to look for to determine atypical behavior. One main thing you can spot as a 
parent is lack of basics of language in infancy. As mentioned, infants begin 
to coo around two months. If there is not indication of this past this point, 
there may be an issue and follow up may be necessary. In toddlerhood, 
around the age of two, professionals may beginning askings for parental 
evaluation of a child for signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). If you 
as a parent notice your child exhibiting obsessive, repetitive behavior, 
resisting eye contact, or lack of social interaction, these may be indicators 
of ASD and should be professionally assessed. 
 
Social and cultural Factors 
From an early age, social and cultural factors play a major part in infant and 
toddler development. Infants begin learning social aspects from birth. They 
learn cadence of speaking and tonal representation through consistent 
communication. This can be helpful to them with overall social development 
and give these children the ability to learn the ways of speech. With 
culture, once a child is born, they are immediately immersed into a culture 
and a way of life that a family is accustomed to. The almost instant 
establishment of culture in an infant or toddler gives them the building 
blocks for their own morals, beliefs, and self-concepts that will eventually help them develop their 
overall individuality.  
 
Play Strategies for families 
One of the best ways that a family can help facilitate development is to stimulate the child’s 
domains. As an infant, families can talk to their child and emphasize mouth movements as they 
speak. Let the infant touch toys, hold them in their hands to understand its texture, and shape to 
allow for mental development to occur. Stimulation early in life will allow for development in toddler 
years to develop appropriately as well. Developing the domains of toddlers can be done by 
interaction. Make believe play or pretend play really does help to stimulate the mind of toddlers! 
This play allows them to create a world full of possibilities and this allows for development of all 
domains to work at its best capacity! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
References
Albarran, A. S., & Reich, S. M. (2014). ​Using Baby Books to Increase New Mothers’ Self-Efficacy and

Improve Toddler Language Development​. Infant and Child Development, (4), 374.

https://doi-org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1002/icd.1832

Berk, L. E. (2013). ​Child development.​ (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Retrieved from

https://content.ashford.edu/

Zukauskas, R. (2018). ​Infant/Toddler Development​. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health. Retrieved

from

http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=937

88009&site=eds-live&scope=site