Introduction

Nothing stirs the emotions or rivets the attention of adults more than the birth of a child. By their very coming into existence, infants forever alter the sleeping, eating, and working habits of their parents; they change who parents are and how parents define themselves. Infants unthinkingly keep parents up late into the night or cause them to abandon late nights to accommodate early waking; they unknowingly require parents to give up a rewarding career to care for them or to take a second job to support them; they unwittingly lead parents to make new friends of others in similar situations and sometimes cause parents to abandon or lose old friends who are not parents. Yes, parents may even take for themselves the names that infants uncannily bestow. Parenting an infant is a "24/7" job, whether by the parent herself or himself or by a surrogate caregiver who is on call. That is because the human infant is totally dependent on parents for survival. Unlike the newborn colt which is on its feet within minutes of birth or the newborn chick which forages on its own more or less immediately after being hatched, the newborn human cannot walk, talk, or even ingest food without the aid of a competent caregiver. In a given year, approximately 4 million new babies are born in the United

States, and worldwide each day approximately three fourths of a million adults experience the joys and heartaches and challenges and rewards of becoming new parents (Population Reference Bureau, 2000). The wonder is that every day 11,000 babies are born in the United States (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000), a number equivalent to the population of a small town—and yet each one is unique and special.

Infancy defines the period of life between birth and the emergence of language approximately 11/ to 2 years into childhood. Our generic terms "infant" and "baby" both have their origins in language-related concepts. The word infant derives from the Latin in + fans, translated literally as "nonspeaker," and the word baby shares a Middle English root with "babble" (another front-consonant—back-vowel combination). Our newborn and infant are for the Chagga of Tanganyika mnangu (the "incomplete one") and mkoku ("one who fills lap"). For us, children are infants until they talk, and become toddlers when they walk; but for the Alor of the Lesser Sundra Islands, the first stage of infancy lasts from birth to the first smile, and the second stage from the smile to the time when the child can sit alone or begins to crawl (Mead and Newton, 1967, in Fogel, 1984).

Infancy encompasses only a small fraction of the average person's life expectancy, but it is a period highly attended to and invested in by parents all over the world. Parenting responsibilities are greatest during infancy, when the child is most dependent on caregiving and the child's ability to cope alone is almost nonexistent. Not by chance, infants' physiognomic structures are especially attractive to adults; infants engender feelings of responsibility and solicitude. Infants are also fun to observe, to talk to, and to play with; infants do not know how to be agonistic, deceiving, or malicious, but infants make undeniable demands. Furthermore, infancy is a period of rapid development in practically all spheres of human expression and function, and people are perennially fascinated by the dramatic ways in which the helpless and disorganized human newborn transforms into the competent and curious and frustrating and frustrated child.

Reciprocally, infants may profit most from parental care. Infancy is the phase of the life cycle when adult caregiving is not only at its most intense, but is thought to exert significant influence.

Infants are believed to be particularly susceptible and responsive to external events. The sheer amount of interaction between parent and child is greatest in infancy; parents spend more than twice as much time with their infants as they do with their children in middle childhood (Hill and Stafford, 1980). In effect, parents and caregivers are responsible for determining most, if not all, of infants' earliest experiences. It is the evolutionary and continuing task of parents to prepare their children for the physical, economic, and psychosocial situations in which they are to develop (Benedict, 1938; Bornstein, 1991; LeVine, 1988). Parents everywhere appear highly motivated to carry out this task, and infants are reciprocally sensitive to their parents. From a very early age, they appear to recognize and prefer the sights, sounds, and smells of their caregivers (Bornstein and Arterberry, 1999) and over the course of the first year develop deep and lifelong attachments to them (Cummings and Cummings, in Vol. 5 of this Handbook).

At their best, parent and infant activities are characterized by intricate patterns of synchronous interactions and sensitive mutual understandings (Bornstein, 1989a; Bornstein and Tamis-LeMonda, 1990; Sroufe andFleeson, 1986; Stern, 1985), or, as Winnicott (1965, p. 39) put it, "There is no such thing as an infant." One study submitted 2- to 4-month-old infants' sensitivities in interacting to tests (Murray and Trevarthen, 1985). Infants first viewed real-time images of their mothers interacting with them by means of closed-circuit television, and during this period infants were seen to react with normal interest and pleasure. Immediately afterward, infants watched the videotaped recording of the same interaction; this time the infants exhibited signs of distress. The infants' negative reactions were considered to arise out of the lack of synchrony with their mothers that the babies suddenly experienced. Even months-old infants are sensitive to the presence or the absence of appropriate parenting interactions.

In this chapter, the salient features of parenting infants are presented. First, a brief history of interest in parenting infants is provided, followed by a discussion of the theoretical significance attached to parenting infants. Next, characteristics of infants and infant development that are especially meaningful for parenting are described, including developmental changes in state, stature, and physical abilities, perceiving, thinking, acquiring language, expressing emotions, and interacting socially. Then the main part of the chapter reviews principles of parenting infants, including direct and indirect effects, parenting beliefs and behaviors, stylistic differences between mothers and fathers, and probable mechanisms of action of these parenting principles. Next, forces that shape parenting during infancy are outlined, including biology, personality, infant effects, and various social, socioeconomic, and cultural determinants. Finally, nonparental (i.e., sibling, familial, and nonfamilial) infant caregiving is briefly discussed.

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