Understanding Cognitive and Social Development in a Newborn
In passing suddenly from the watery, dark environment of the womb to an existence outside the mother's body, the newborn is cut off from his former dependence on his mother's blood supply. The baby must begin to use his own lungs to breathe air and his own stomach to digest food.
An infant spends his first days recovering from his mother's labor. Mechanisms for breathing, digestion, circulation, elimination, body temperature regulation, and hormonal secretion must stabilize to begin this new and independent life. As this reorganization takes place, infants are at the mercy of their reflexes, startling easily in response to sudden changes and flinging their arms out in panic if they feel themselves falling. Thus begins an increasingly independent existence for the baby, a process we call development. Learn about the phases of a newborn's mental and social growth process in the following sections:
- Newborn Cognitive Development Cognitive development encompasses the acquisition of knowledge and includes everything from a baby recognizing her mother to learning to sing the alphabet song. In this section, we tackle the widely debated "nature versus nurture" topic as it applies to your baby's development, including expert opinions on the effects of environment on intelligence. We examine what constitutes normal development of a baby and provide a general outline of what behaviors to expect when. Finally, this section discusses reasonable expectations and warns against comparing your child with other children.
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