After infancy the next important stage in the life span is babyhood. This stage occupies the first two years of life after infancy and will be discussed under the headings-characteristics, pattern of development and hazards in babyhood.
Babyhood is the true foundation age- Because at this time, many behavior patterns, attitudes and emotional experience are being established. It is found that personality maladjustment in adulthood had their origin in unfavorable childhood experience. The first two years are critical in setting the pattern for personal and social adjustment, providing a rich social life for a twelve to fifteen month old child is the best thing you can do to guarantee a good mind .
Babyhood is a age of rapid growth & change - Babies grow rapidly both physically & psychologically. There is change in appearance and capacities. Limbs develop. Body proportions change. Intellectual growth takes place and baby's ability to recognize & respond to people and objects become visible. They understand and communicate their needs.
Babyhood is an age of decreasing dependency - Results from the rapid development of body control to sit, stand and walk. Negativism is one of the outstanding characteristics of the closing months of babyhood.
Babyhood is the age of increased individuality - Individuality is shown in appearance and in pattern of behaviour and then leads to treating them as individuals.
Babyhood is the beginning of socialization- They learn to be a part of the social group by attachment behaviour. They win the attention of others and develop strong emotional ties.
Babyhood is the beginning of sex-role typing - Indirectly girls are sex - role typed in babyhood by being permitted to cry and show other signs of 'Female Weakness' which are discouraged in boy babies.
Babyhood is an appealing age - They are attracted by many especially when they are dressed well.
Babyhood is the beginning of creativity - This is the age when they are learning to develop interest and attitudes that will lay the foundation for creativity.
Babyhood is a hazardous age - among the physical hazards, illness and accidents are the most serious because they often lead to permanent disabilities or to death. Since behaviour patterns, interests and attitude are established during babyhood, serious psychological hazards can result if poor foundations are laid at this time.
At the age of four months, the baby's weight has normally doubled. At one year, babies weigh, on the average, three times as much as they did at birth, or approximately 10 kgs. Increase in weight during the babyhood comes mainly from an increase in fat tissue.
At 4 months, the baby measures between 23 and 24 inches, at one year, between 28 and 30 inches and at two years between 32 and 34 inches.
Head growth slows down in babyhood while trunk and limb growth increases. Thus the baby gradually becomes less top-heavy and appears more slender and less chubby by the end of babyhood.
The number of bones increases during babyhood. Calcifications begins in the early part of the first year but is not completed until puberty. The soft spot on the skull or fontanel has closed in approximately 50% of all babies by the age of 19 months and almost all babies by the age of two years.
Muscle fibres are present at birth but in very under developed forms. They grow slowly during babyhood and are weak. By contrast, fat tissue develops rapidly during babyhood, due partly to the high fat content of milk, the main ingredient in a baby's diet.
During the second year of life, as body proportions change, babies begin to show tendencies toward characteristic body builds. The three most common forms of body build are ectomorphic, which tends to be long and slender, endomorphic, which tends to be round and fat, and mesomorphic which tends to be heavy, hard and rectangular.
The average baby has four to six of the twenty temporary teeth by age of one and sixteen by the age of two. The first teeth to cut through are those in the front, the last to appear are the molars. The last four of the temporary teeth usually erupt during the first year of early childhood.
At birth, brain weight is one-eighth of the baby's total weight. Gain in brain weight is greatest during the first two years of life, thus accounting for the baby's top-heavy appearance. The cerebellum, which plays an important role in body balance and postural control, triples in weight during the first year of postnatal life. This is true also for the cerebrum. Immature cells, present at birth, continue to develop after birth but relatively few new cells are formed.
By the age of three months, the eye muscles are well-enough coordinated to enable babies to see things clearly and distinctly and the cones are well-enough developed to enable them to see colors. Hearing develops rapidly during this time. Smell and taste, which are well developed at birth, continue to improve during babyhood. Babies are highly responsive to all skin stimuli because of the thin texture of their skin and because all sense organs relating to touch, pressure, pain, and temperature are present in well-developed forms.
Babyhood is the time when the fundamental physiological patterns of eating, sleeping and elimination should be established, even though the habit formation may not be completed when babyhood ends.
Speech development - Both aspects of communication - comprehension of what others are trying to communicate and the ability to communicate is improved. One's thought and feelings to others in terms they can understand - are difficult and not mastered quickly. Foundation for both are laid during babyhood years. The speaker's facial expression, tone of voice & gesture help babies to understand what is being said to them. Babbling is the most important because real speech eventually develops from it. Crying is one of the first ways in which a baby is able to communicate to others.
Emotional behaviour - Babyhood emotions differ from those of other age groups. They are brief in duration, though intense while they last. They appear frequently but give way to other emotions when baby's attention is distracted. Emotions are more easily conditioned during babyhood than at later age. This is because their intellectual abilities are limited.
There are certain emotional patterns that are common. But since they are susceptible to conditioning, there are variations in these patterns as well as common emotional patterns in babyhood are anger, fear, curiosity, joy, affection etc.
Development in socialization - The social experiences play a dominant role in developing the baby's future social relationships and patterns of behaviour towards others. Foundation for later social behaviour is laid in the home. During the first year of babyhood babies are in a state of equilibrium which makes them friendly, easy to handle and pleasant to be with. This changes soon and they become fussy, noncooperative and difficult to handle.
Throughout babyhood, play is often solitary than social. They derive a lot enjoyment through play and it aids in overall development of the child.
Beginning of sex-role typing - This starts literally at birth. Babies are identified as male or female by the colours of their dress and other things used including toys. The foundation for sex-appropriate behaviour is laid at home by parents and others and this continues as they move to day care centers or nursery schools.
Personality development - The potentials for personality development are present at birth. Since no two individuals have the same physical or mental endowment or the same environmental experiences, no two persons will ever develop identical personality patterns. Babyhood is often referred to as a 'critical period' in the development of personality because at this time the foundations are laid upon which the adult personality structure will be built. Factors like constant companion to the child (mother quite often), unfavourable occurrence in the environment (over protection), sex differences, will influence the personality development.
In the first year of babyhood, physical hazards tend to be more numerous and more serious than psychological ones, while the reverse is true during second year.
Physical Hazards - Are serious for all babies but more for those who are born prematurely, suffer from brain damage or other birth defects and those whose physical development and general conditions at birth are poor. Children can have gastrointestinal or respiratory complications. Minor illnesses such as cold, digestive upsets, can occur. Accidents are frequent, when babies start to move around. Malnutrition can affect physical and mental development. On the other hand obesity is a great problem.
Psychological Hazards - Serious hazards arise either directly or indirectly due to failure to master developmental tasks of babyhood like hazards in motor development, speech hazards, emotional, social play and hazards in personality development.