Infant Development: Social Development In Infants

Just as the physical development of infants varies greatly, the intellectual and social development in infants also may exhibit marked individual differences. Some babies may develop at a faster rate, reaching the developmental milestones such as sitting up, and walking, much ahead of their counterparts. A certain amount of hereditary influence in the rate of development has been observed in families, where babies attain the developmental milestones such as talking, either earlier, or later. Environmental factors also greatly influence the developmental rate. Lack of stimulation may result in slower development, while adequate mental and physical stimulation can speed it up.

Congenital abnormalities like deafness or blindness can negatively affect the social and intellectual development of babies as the sensory inputs through the auditory or visual channel are completely absent. Development is usually a continuous process, but occasional breaks and setbacks may occur. Serious or prolonged illnesses or trauma may temporarily retard certain functions like speech development in some infants.

For infants, the main mode of communication is crying. They cry when they feel hungry, wet, cold or uncomfortable in any way. Any physical or mental distress is expressed by crying. It is normal for 4 to 6 week old infants to cry for about three hours on most days. The frequency and duration of the crying may reduce as the baby grows older.  Another reason could be that the parents learn to understand other possible cues which may indicate the needs of the baby and meet them even before they demand them by crying. Whatever the reason, by the time the baby is 3 months old, the crying would have normally reduced to just an hour per day unless the baby is ill.

To pacify a crying baby, parents may offer food and it often works. They should never try to force-feed a crying baby, though. If the infant is crying because of hunger, it will readily accept the feed offered. If it shows disinclination towards food, other possible causes of distress should be investigated. The diaper should be checked for wetness. The baby’s bottom should be examined for signs of diaper rash too. A change of position or environment may help relieve distress. Carrying the baby around or taking it out in a baby carrier or pram may help. There are occasions when nothing seems to work. Parents should be alert to signs of illness which may be causing additional distress to the baby.

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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