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Physical Changes in Infancy: An Exclusive Guide

Physical Changes in Infancy: An Exclusive Guide


Physical changes in infancy are one of the most important tasks which is performed by the infant. From the birth till the end of infancy, an infant doubles his/her height and triple the weight. An infant’s development happens in two directions: horizontal and vertical. From head-to-toe development is considered vertical. Whereas from chest to hands is defined as horizontal.

Every baby is different from other and develop in his/her own developmental pattern. Some infants are speedy in development, but others are slow. It is observed that girls are more active and speedier to acquire developmental milestone rather than boys. But still there are four main domains which every infant cover during infancy. These four domains are physical development, language development, social development, and cognitive development.

Physical Development From Birth to 24 months

Physical changes in infancy is the most prominent growth which we can observe in an infant. It start in the head like in the first 2 months an infant becomes able to lift and turn his head while laying. Then this development moves to the other parts of the body, like sitting, standing, and walking.

  • Height: If we talk about infant development in terms of height or length. An infant grows around 10-12 inches in the first year. By the end of infancy around 24 months old infants achieve half of an adult’s height. 
  • Weight: A healthy infant who gets proper diet, especially breast milk would triple his weight by the end of 1st year. At the end of infancy, a 2-year baby is expected to gain 26.5 pounds which is 12 kg.
  • Teeth: Typically, infants start growing teeth at the age of 6 months. By the end of 2-3 year an infant completes the set of 20 teeth. This is called the teething process; this time is really difficult for both baby and the primary caregiver. Because an infant feels so much pain in the head, itching in the ears and feels so irritated which makes him cry a lot. The teething process usually gets at peak in the night times, so a mother should prepare herself for sleepless nights. Still a proper amount of water and calcium can give relief to babies in this tough time. You can also get help from this article to make a baby sleep very well.
  • Other Internal Body Parts: Heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc. continue getting maturity by the passage of time. These parts are also included in physical changes in infancy. We cannot observe the development of them. Although normal height, weight and activeness shows that these parts are working properly.

Motor Development From Rolling to Walking

In terms of motor development, we can clearly observe physical changes in infancy. Here we can also have a clear sight of vertical and horizontal development. First, infants learn to control their head, neck, and then down parts of the body. This is vertical growth. Talking about horizontal growth, an infant gets control over his chest, then starts operating with his arms. And lastly an infant learns to manipulate his fingers. There are two types of motor skills fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills

Describing early milestones, when an infant use large muscles and performs some tasks that is known as gross motor skill. Gross motor skills are rolling, sitting, running, jumping, climbing, blinking, grasping, sucking, rooting, walking, and stepping. If an infant does not perform these basic gross motor skills then parents need to be alert. They should get a proper checkup of that child.   

Fine Motor Skills

On the other hand, when an infant uses smaller muscles to perform any task. That is known as fine motor skills. In motor development, fine motor skills are considered more mature than gross motor skills. Some fine motor skills are holding things, writing, drawing, painting, buttoning clothing, turning things, eating, and cutting with scissors. Normally by the end of infancy, an infant easily performs all these fine motor skills.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is more complex than the apparent physical changes in infancy. It refers to an infant’s learning ability, memory, thinking, and reasoning. infants are born with the capacity to recognize their primary caregiver. This is why mostly an infant feels comfortable in the lap of the mother but cries in other hands. This is the first sign which depicts cognitive development. Typically an infant performs the following tasks at the end of infancy.

An infant is playing with blocks and showing physical changes in infancy.
An infant is playing with blocks and showing physical changes in infancy.
  • Identify his family members.
  • Identify similar objects.
  • Response to the action and verbal nods of adults.
  • Explore things and try to learn things.
  • Understand the instructions given by adults.
  • Able to arrange and assemble things like playing with building blocks, make a line of cars etc.
  • They perceive things properly. If you play their favorite poem or song they will quickly run to the LED to watch that.
  • They have a clear idea about object permanence. therefore they cry when you take something from their hands and look here and there. They try to find that object immediately. 

Language Development From Baby Talk to Complete Sentence

As the physical changes in infancy happen, brain development is also in the process. Every infant shows their ability to communicate according to their own capacity. Still, there are some communication milestones which would be discussed below. When the brain develops, infants also show ability to produce different sounds and to communicate.

For communication infants take information through hearing and by sight. They also focus on words from adults and try to repeat it. All this process helps infants to learn a proper language for communication. This process is also called developmental communication.      

  • Producing sounds: A six to eight month old infant can easily do babbling. Babbling is the combination of consonants and vowels. They produce sounds like baba, dada, mama, etc. Infants actually do not know the meaning of these sounds but they keep on repeating it. These sounds are actually known as babbling. 
  • One word plus Gestures: Nine to 18 months old infants can speak a single word. Sometimes followed by gestures. For example, they can say NO and use head movement as a gesture. They can say CAT and point with their fingers as a gesture.
  • One Sentence: An 18-24 months infant can speak two words. For instance, (see cow) and (give milk). A 24-30 months old infant can speak and repeat the sentences. He can easily convey his messages and demands.
  • You can support language development by talking a lot with your child, and responding when your child communicates.

Social/Emotional Development From Shyness To Empathy

Social development of an infant refers to his ability to experience, express and manage his emotions. Infants are social creatures. They are born with the ability to express their feelings. Within the first week they start expressing comfort when their caregivers are around. they move their heads to that direction where the caregiver moves. They produce different sounds and start cooing when they are comfortable.   

Most of the families report that by the end of three months their infant smiles to all the family members. This gesture shows that now the infant knows its family members. While looking after an infant if you interact with them they give expressions. They also try to understand and respond in their own rhymes. It is their inborn ability or social emotional skill.

Social Emotional Milestones

  • If we talk about social emotional milestones then 0-2 months are so important. This is the time period when an infant seeks self-awareness. They try to build relationships, feel love, security, and being nurtured.
  • 6-9 months infants are so adventurous. Six months old infants try to approach those things which attract them. They reach there by crawling or rolling. during this era infants try to explore new things. They express their likes and dislikes. Especially related to food. They quickly eat those things which they like and tease a lot while eating things and taste they don’t like.
  • 9-18 months old infants become well aware about society. They show comfort and express happiness with their known persons. They feel shy and hesitate to express emotions in the presence of strangers. This is also known as stranger-anxiety.
  • A 2 years old infant is capable of understanding, expressing and managing his emotions. This is the time where we can teach them with the help of punishment and reward. Two years old infants can feel guilty over their mistakes. They are capable of showing empathy. They know their favorite dresses and take care of their belongings.  

Conclusion & Next Steps for Parenting Young Children

It is very exciting to feel and observe all the physical changes in infancy. An infant is a blessing by nature. To nurture them is a full time job. Every infant shows development in his own style and pattern. Still, there are some standard milestones which every infant has to cover. Otherwise parents need to see experts to eradicate the fear of any abnormality. After infancy parents need to appreciate independence, patience and they must learn the ways how to make a baby an obedient being. 

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About The Author

Qurratulain Nabeel

This is QURRATULAIN - an M.Phil in Applied Psychology. Being a mother of two I tried to put my knowledge into practice, which proved very beneficial for me. By using the platform of I am so pleased to share my experience with people all around the world.

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