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Development

Infancy and Childhood

Prenatal Development

Infancy and Childhood, page 2

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Babies come into the world with many innate abilities, or abilities that are present from birth. At birth, they possess motor reflexes such as the sucking reflex and the grasping reflex. Newborns can also hear, smell, touch, taste, and see, and these sensory abilities develop quickly.

Motor Development

Motor development also progresses quickly. Motor development is the increasing coordination of muscles that makes physical movements possible. Developmental norms tell us the median age at which babies develop specific behaviors and abilities. Babies often deviate a fair amount from these norms.

Researchers used to think motor skill development could be explained mostly by maturation, genetically programmed growth and development. According to this view, babies learn to sit up, pull themselves to a standing position, and walk at particular ages because they are hard-wired that way. However, recent research suggests that motor development isn’t just a passive process. Although maturation plays a large role, babies also actively develop motor skills by moving around and exploring their environments. Both maturation and experience influence motor development.

Cultural differences also affect how quickly motor skills develop, although the timing and sequence of early motor skill development remains similar across all cultures.

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