During infancy, children transform from immature beings unable to move their limbs in a coordinated manner to children who control complicated sequences of muscle contractions and flections in order to walk, reach, or grasp, and from children who can only babble or cry to children who make needs and desires abundantly clear in language and other ways. During infancy, children first make sense of and understand objects in the world, first express and read basic human emotions, first develop individual personalities and social styles, and form first social bonds. Parents escort their infants through all these dramatic "firsts." Not surprisingly, all of these developmental dynamics are closely tracked by parents, all shape parenting, and all are, in turn, shaped by parents. In this section, some significant developments in infancy that influence and are influenced by parenting are briefly reviewed.
State. Infants vary in how soon they establish a predictable schedule of behavioral states (Thoman, 1990), and their regularity or lack thereof has critical implications for infantcare and development as well as for parental well-being. State determines how infants present themselves; and much of what infants learn about people, their own abilities, and the object world is acquired during periods of quiet alertness and attentiveness. Therefore infant state influences adult behavior: It has been estimated that mothers lose an average of 350 hours of sleep during their infant's first year (Dement and Vaughan, 1999) primarily because of the multiple awakenings of their infant (Michelsson, Rinne, and Paajanen, 1990; Osterholm, Lindeke, and Amidon, 1983) and that mothers experience negative effects of sleep deprivation without being fully aware of it (Coren, 1997). Adults soothe distressed babies instead of trying to play with them, and infants who are temperamentally fretful elicit different patterns of interaction than do infants who cry only infrequently (Putnam, Sanson, and Rothbart, in Vol. 1 of this Handbook). The amount of time infants spend in different states determines the fundamental circumstances under which they are with their parents: Babies are usually with their mothers when awake and alone when asleep. At the same time, infant state is modifiable: Cole (1999) documented cultural conditioning of infants' biological entrain-ment to the day-night cycle. Among the Kipsigis, a tribe of the Kenyan desert, infants sleep with their mothers at night and are permitted to nurse on demand. During the day, they are strapped to their mothers' backs, accompanying them on daily rounds of farming, household chores, and social activities. These babies often nap while their mothers go about their work, and so they do not begin to sleep through the night until many months later than do U.S. American infants (see too Kawasaki, Nugent, Miyashita, Miyahara, and Brazelton, 1994). State organization and getting "on schedule" are subject to parent-mediated experiential influences (Ingersoll and Thoman, 1999).
Physical stature and psychomotor abilities. Infancy is a time of great physical and nervous system development. Growth through the first 2 postnatal years is manifest even on casual observation because of its magnitude and scope. On average, newborns measure approximately 49-50 cm and weigh approximately 3.4-3.5 kg. In the year after birth, babies grow half their birth length and their weight approximately triples (National Center for Health Statistics, 2001). Thesephysical changes are paralleled by signal advances in motor skills. Consider the eagerness with which parents await their child's first step. This achievement signifies an important stage in infant independence, permitting new means of exploring the environment and of determining when and how much time infants spend near their parents. By walking, the baby asserts individuality, maturity, and self-mindedness. These changes, in turn, affect the ways in which parents treat the child: How parents organize the baby's physical environment and even how they speak to the walking, as opposed to the crawling, baby differ substantially.
Psychomotor growth too reflects the influence of parenting practices: Dennis and Dennis (1940) suggested that relative locomotor delay in Hopi Native Americans reflected Hopi babies' traditional early constriction on a cradleboard; Mead and MacGregor (1951) proposed that the manner in which Balinese mothers habitually carry their infants promoted the emergence of unique motor patterns; and Ainsworth (1967) attributed advanced Ganda infant motor abilities to a nurturing climate of physical freedom. Antecedent to behaviors, parental expectations also play an influential role. For example, Jamaican mothers living in England expect their infants to sit and to walk relatively early, whereas Indian mothers living in the same city expect their infants to crawl relatively late: Infants in each subculture develop in accordance with their mothers' expected timetables of growth (Hopkins andWestra, 1990).
Perceiving and thinking. During infancy, the capacities to take in information through the major sensory channels, to make sense of the environment, and to attribute meaning to information improve dramatically. Although it is not always apparent, there is no question that infants have an active mental life. Infants are constantly learning and developing new ideas and do so in many different ways (see Bornstein and Lamb, 1992). Infants actively scan the environment, pick up, encode, and process information, and aggregate over their experiences (Bornstein and Arterberry, 1999). Newborns are equipped to hear, to orient to, and to distinguish sounds, and babies seem especially primed to perceive and to appreciate sound in the dynamic form and range of adult speech (Trehub and Hsing-Wu, 1977). Newborns also identify particular speakers—notably mother—right after birth (DeCasper and Spence, 1986), apparently on the basis of prenatal exposure to the maternal voice. By their preference reactions, newborns also give good evidence that they possess a developed sense of smell (Steiner, 1979), and babies soon suck presumptively at the smell of their mothers, and reciprocally, mothers recognize the scent of their babies with only 1 or 2 days' experience (Porter, 1991; Porter and Levy, 1995; Porter and Winberg, 1999).
By 4 or 5 months of age, infants discriminate among facial expressions associated with different emotions (Nelson, 1987) and even distinguish variations in some emotional expressions (Kuchuk, Vibbert, and Bornstein, 1986). How parents look to infants will meaningfully supplement what they have to say to them; indeed, as infants do not yet understand speech, looks may be more telling. Looking is not solely a source of information acquisition, of course; gaze is also a basic means in social exchange. Eye-to-eye contact between infant and caregiver is rewarding to both and sets in motion routines and rhythms of social interaction and play.
As a consequence of infants' information-processing skills (Bornstein, 1989c), parents' displays and infants' imitations provide a particularly efficient mechanism for infants' acquiring information of all sorts ... just by listening and watching. How early infants imitate and what they can imitate are disputed research issues (Nadel and Butterworth, 1999), but the significance of observational learning from infancy is not.
Infancy culminates with the development of representational thinking and language. In the first year, for example, play with objects is predominantly characterized by sensorimotor manipulation (mouthing and fingering) whose goal appears to be the extraction of information about objects. In the second year, object play takes on an increasingly symbolic quality as infants enact activities performed by self, others, and objects in simple pretense situations, for example pretending to drink from empty teacups or to talk on toy telephones (Bornstein and O'Reilly, 1993). Maternal play influences infant play (Bornstein, Haynes, O'Reilly, and Painter, 1999; Tamis-LeMonda, UZgiris, and Bornstein, in Vol. 5 of this Handbook), and cross-cultural comparisons confirm that, where parents emphasize particular types of play, infants tend to engage in those same types of play (Bornstein, Haynes, Pascual, Painter, and Galperin, 1999; Farver, 1993; Tamis-LeMonda, Bornstein, Cyphers, Toda, and Ogino, 1992).
Speaking and understanding. Early in life, infants communicate by means of emotional expressions like smiling and crying. However, babies quickly display the capacity to organize speech sounds, as indicated by babbling. In remarkably short order, the infant's repertoire of communicative tokens expands to include gestures and a growing range of social signals that eventuate in spoken language. The comprehension of speech combined with the generation of meaningful utterances rank among the major cognitive achievements of the infancy period, but the motivation to acquire language is social and is born in interaction, usually with parents (Bloom, 1998). For example, episodes of "joint attention" are believed to provide a fundamental framework for the acquisition of language (Bornstein, 1985; Moore and Dunham, 1995). That is, the acquisition of first language reflects the child's early and rich exposure to the parent-provided target language environment as much as it does competencies that are a part of the child. Language learning is active, but always is embedded in the larger context of adult-infant social communication. Parent-provided experiences swiftly and surely channel early speech development toward the adult target language. In the space of approximately 2 years, infants master the rudiments of language without explicit instruction and without noticeable effort, but they always speak the language to which they have been exposed.
Emotional expressivity and temperament. Emotional expressions are evidence of how babies respond to events, and new parents pay special attention to infants' emotions in their efforts to manage and modify them (Grolnick and Farkas, in Vol. 5 of this Handbook). The advent of emotional reactions—be they the first smiles or the earliest indications of stranger wariness—cue meaningful transitions for caregivers. Parents read them as indications of emerging individuality—as markers to what the child's behavioral style is like now and what it portends. From the first days of their infants' lives, mothers support their babies' experiences, as for example of joy by playing with facial expressions, vocalizations, and touch, and evoking gazing, smiling, and laughing from their infants (Stern, 1985). Reciprocally, by as soon as the second half of the first year of their infants' lives, parents' emotional expressions are meaningful to infants (Klinnert, Campos, Sorce, Emde, and Svejda, 1983; Nelson, 1987). Infants respond emotionally to the affective expressions they observe in other people as when, for example, their caregivers are depressed (Zahn-Waxler, Duggal, and Gruber, in Vol. 4 of this Handbook). Infants as young as 1 year old understand specific object or event referents of a communication (Churcher and Scaife, 1982), and they respond to emotional messages, showing signs of distress when witnessing angry interactions between family members (Cummings, Zahn-Waxler, and Radke-Yarrow, 1981).
Beyond emotional exchange, infants influence parenting by virtue of their individuality of temperament. Activity level, mood, soothability, and emotional intensity define dimensions of temperament by which parents typically characterize their infants. Just as parents and caregivers try to interpret, respond to, and manage infants' emotional states, they also devote considerable energy to identifying, adapting to, and channeling infants' temperament (Bornstein and Lamb, 1992; Putnam et al., in Vol. 1 of this Handbook). For one example, some infants appear better able to regulate their attention and emotions and so engage parents in more rewarding bouts of joint attention (Raver, 1996). For another, difficult babies have hunger cries that are higher pitched, and adults perceive them as more aversive and demanding (Lounsbury and Bates, 1982). Further to the point, mothers of irritable infants engage in less visual and physical contact and are less responsive and less involved with their babies (Van den Boom and Hoeksma, 1994), and maternal perceptions of infant difficultness predict their perceptions of aggressiveness and anxiety in children as they grow (Bates, Maslin, and Frankel, 1985).
Just as in other spheres of infant life, cultural variation shapes the interaction between infant emotional expression or temperament and parenting. No doubt there are temperament proclivities of the infant that transcend culture: Some smiles are more equal than others, and an infant's smile is unquestionably first among equals. Likewise, "difficult" babies are characterized by frequent and intense expressions of negative emotion, and they demand and receive different patterns of attention than do "easy" babies (Pettit and Bates, 1984). However, adults in different cultures surely socialize the emotional displays of their infants by responding in accordance with culture-specific requirements or interpretations of infants' expressions and emotions (Harkness and Super, 1985; Super and Harkness, 1986). For example, infants universally respond to separation from parents in characteristically negative ways (Ainsworth et al., 1978; LeVine and Miller, 1990), but mothers may perceive and interpret their reactions differently according to cultural values. European American and Puerto Rican mothers both prefer infants who display a balance of autonomy and dependence, but European American mothers attend to and place greater emphasis on the presence or absence of individualistic tendencies, whereas Puerto Rican mothers focus more on characteristics associated with a sociocentric orientation, that is, the child's ability to maintain proper conduct in a public place (Harwood, 1992; Harwood, Leyendecker, Carlson, Asencio, and Miller, in Vol. 4 of this Handbook). Thus the meaning of infant behavior for parents is a complex function of act and context (Bornstein, 1995). Although in some circumstances infant difficultness may be associated with long-term negative consequences (Putnam et al., in Vol. 1 of this Handbook), among Ethiopian infants otherwise dying of starvation, difficult temperament, which elicited adult attention and feeding, proved adaptive (DeVries and Sameroff, 1984).
Social life. The infancy period sees the gradual dawning of social awareness, and over time babies assume increasing responsibility for initiating and maintaining social interactions (Green, Gustafson, and West, 1980). By 2 months of age, infants already engage in complex and responsive interactions with their mothers (termed protoconversations; Bateson, 1979). These interactions are characterized by mutual give-and-take exchanges in the form of coos, gazes, smiles, grunts, and sucks. On this basis, infants develop a sense of shared experience (termed intersubjectivity; Trevarthen, 1993). The development of emotional relationships with other people—mainly parents—constitutes one of the most important aspects of social development in infancy (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Bowlby,
1969). By the middle of the first year, the very social infant bears little resemblance to the seemingly asocial neonate. Infant-mother interactions have been referred to as the "cradle of social understanding" (Rochat and Striano, 1999) for how they presumably color later social relationships.
Once infants develop the capacity to recognize specific people, they begin to interact preferentially with, and gradually form enduring attachments to, the adults who have been consistently and reliably accessible during their first months in the world. Attachment formation is a product of the convergence of built-in tendencies on the part of infants and propensities of adults to respond in certain ways to infants' cues and needs (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Bowlby, 1969; Cummings and Cummings, in Vol. 5 of this Handbook). As discussed in the section on the principles of parenting infants, the ways in which parents interact with and respond to their babies vary depending on a variety of factors, including parents' gender, personalities, current social, emotional, and economic circumstances, life histories, and ideology and culture, as well as their infants' characteristics. The nature of parent-infant interactions provides a medium within which the chrysalis of the child's future life germinates and grows. The quality of parent-infant relationships shapes infants' relationships with others by multiple means: modeling the nature and course of interventions, affecting infants' willingness and ability to engage in interactions with others, as well as influencing what infants take away from those interactions.
The developmental changes that take place in individuals during the 21/2 years after their conception—the prenatal and the infancy periods—are more dramatic and thorough than any others in the lifespan. The body, the mind, and the ability to function meaningfully in and on the world all emerge and flourish with verve. That dynamism, in turn, engages the world, for infants do not grow and develop in a vacuum. Every facet of creation they touch as they grow and develop influences infants in return. These reciprocal relations in infancy ultimately cast parenting in a featured role.
Development in infancy has strong stable components: Crying in 6-month-old infants and behavioral inhibition in 18-month-old toddlers may seem different, when in fact the underlying source construct of fear might be the same (Kagan, Snidman, Arcus, and Resnick, 1997). However, much of infancy is change, and all children change at their own rate (Kagan, 1971). Last week, Jonathan may have stayed in the spot where he was placed; this week he is creeping, and next month he will be scooting around faster than his mother can catch him. Another baby the same age may not begin to locomote for 2 more months. Understanding, anticipating, and responding to dynamic change in the context of individual variation present major challenges to parents of infants. Parents need to know about and be vigilant to all the complications and subtleties of infant development.
Infancy is dynamic change. Infant development involves parallel and rapid growth in biological, psychological, and social spheres. Moreover, normal development may be nonlinear in nature, stalling sometimes, or even regressing temporarily (Bever, 1982; Harris, 1983; Strauss and Stavy, 1981). Infant growth well illustrates the "systems" perspective on development, in the sense that the organization of the whole changes as the infant matures and is exposed to new experiences, and changes take place at many levels at once (e.g., Gottlieb, Wahlsten, and Lickliter, 1998; Thelen and Smith, 1998). For example, the emergence of self-produced locomotion involves not only an advance in motor skills, but also affects visual-vestibular adaptation, visual attention, social referencing, and emotions (Bertenthal and Campos, 1990). Babies who can pull themselves up to standing position and walk (which occurs sometime between 11 and 15 months of age) engage the social and the object worlds in fundamentally new ways: The young infant was totally dependent on adults for stimulation; the older infant explores, self-stimulates, and self-educates. Likewise, achieving the ability to stand upright and walk alters the nature and the quality of parenting (e.g., Biringen, Emde, Campos, and Appelbaum, 1995). The Gusii of Kenya have the expression "lameness is up," meaning that, as
children become able to walk, they are liable to be hurt (LeVine, 1977). By the second year, infants initiate activities with parents more than 85% of the time (White, Kaban, Shapiro, and Attanucci, 1977). Standing infants seem more grown up to adults, who in turn treat them so. With each infant advance, parents' behaviors toward infants change; they must now be vigilant about a range of new, and possibly dangerous, circumstances. Much more than before, parents must communicate that infants need to regulate their own behavior.
Infancy is individual variation. The notable developmental achievements that unfold during infancy are impressive (especially when infancy is viewed in terms of the small proportion of the entire lifespan that it is), but normal variability in the timing of infant achievements is equally compelling. Every infant is an original. Interest in the origins and expression of interinfant variability occupies a central position in thinking about infant development and parenting (e.g., Kagan, 1984). The ages at which individual infants might achieve a given developmental milestone typically vary enormously (some children say their first word at 9 months of age, others at 29 months of age), just as infants of a given age vary dramatically among themselves on nearly every index of development (at 1 year of age, some toddlers comprehend 10 words, others 75; some produce zero words, others nearly 30). Of course, when and how their infants talk or walk or what have you exercises a strong psychological impact on parents, even if it is temporary and the long-term significance of a given child's performance is meaningful in only extreme cases.
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