What are the key elements of the Harvard Center on
the Developing Child framework for children’s health
and physical development?
In what ways are the first years of life a period of
rapid physical, motor, and perceptual development?
What role does the brain play in the rapid physical,
motor, and perceptual development of the first years
What are some important nutrition concerns
regarding infants and toddlers?
How do the physical, caregiving, and cultural
environments affect development in infants and
What are some effects of neuromuscular disabilities
on development, and how can early intervention
The Harvard Center on the Developing Child
Biology of health: the child’s physical makeup
Foundations of health: involving the child’s relationships
with others, the immediate environment, and nutrition
Caregiver and community capacities: including the time,
commitment, resources, and knowledge available from
caregivers and communities
Policy and program: including public health, education,
and other polity- and program-level elements in the
Children grow more within the first 24
months of life than at any other point
across the life span.
Body weight nearly quadruples.
Head circumference increases by 1/3.
Principles of Physical Development
Cephalocaudal: the direction of physical growth as it proceeds
from “head to tail,” with the greatest growth beginning at the top
of the body and moving gradually downward.
Proximodistal: the direction of physical growth as it proceeds
from the “near to far,” from the central axis of the body outward
to the periphery.
Differentiation: the process whereby physical
structures become more specialized over time
Physical growth does not occur in steady
increments over time; not all parts of the body
grow at the same rate at the same time; growth
The average birth weight for a term infant is 7½
Birth weight doubles by 5 months.
Birth weight triples by 1 year.
The average length of a newborn is 20 inches.
Length increases about 30% by 5 months.
Length increases about 50% by 1 year.
Refers to advances in functional motor ability and
changes in the quality of motor skills
Gross motor skills: motor skills that involve use of the
large muscles of the legs, arms, back, and shoulders,
which are used in sitting, walking, running, jumping, and
Fine motor skills: motor skills that involve use of the
small muscles of the fingers and hands, for activities
such as grasping objects, holding, cutting, drawing,
buttoning, and writing
Motor milestones: motor behaviors that emerge
over time and are identified according to the
average age at which children develop and
demonstrate certain skills or physical attributes
Milestones tables: used to identify developmental
Milestones for large muscle activities
Development of posture
Learning to walk; locomotion, balance,
and practice (crawling to walking)
Development in second year
Skilled and mobile: pull toys, climb
Natural exercise: walk quickly, run
Finely tuned (coordinated) movements
• Perceptual-motor coupling necessary
• Finger dexterity (thumb and forefinger)
• Two types of grasps: Palmar and Pincer
• Wrists and hands turn and rotate more
• Experience and exercise have impact
Hearing is important especially with regard to
development of speech. Infants quickly learn the
discrete units of speech sound. By 12 to 13 months,
ability to understand specific words increases.
Infants with hearing loss are at risk for delays in
speech and language development. Early
intervention is important for proper language
Newborns can focus on objects between 10 and
12 inches away.
Visual acuity: the ability to distinguish detail
improves from 20/400 at birth to 20/30 by 8
Color vision is comparable to that of an adult by 2
to 3 months of age.
The elimination of unused neural circuits, which streamlines
neural processing and makes the remaining circuits work
more quickly and efficiently.
Early experiences affect development
Enriched environment makes brain
Heavier in weight with thicker layers
Develop more neural connections
Produces higher neurochemical
Depression is common
Weight and Height grow at phenomenal rate
Nutrition needed to promote this
50 calories a day for each pound the infant
More that 2x the amount for an adult
Introduce solid foods at about 6 months
(although milk still main source of nutrition)
Infant Cereal first because of high iron
Should be continued until at least 18 months
Birth to 6 to months: Breast milk and formula
Breast milk is recommended for the first 6 months due
to its high cholesterol and fat content, which is needed
to support brain development.
Evidence suggests reduced risk of obesity later in life
with breastfeeding as compared to formula feeding.
Between 4 and 6 months, baby cereal mixed with
breast milk or formula may be introduced.
Breastfeeding is better
Appropriate weight gain,
lowers obesity risk
Prevents or reduces
allergies and infections
and cognitive growth
Lowers risk of SIDS and
Better visual acuity and
The only option in poor
Only ½ of mothers breast feed
• Social stigma
• Medical problems
No long-term physical or
psychological damage from bottle
American Academy of Pediatrics,
Infant Care Manual and Parents
Magazine suggest Breast
Six to 12 Months: Solid Food
Babies are ready for sold food when their birth
weight has doubled, when they can indicate
fullness, and when they show interest in foods
others are eating.
Introduce foods one at a time to check for
allergies or indigestion.
Strained meats can be added at 8 months.
Offer a variety of healthy foods, and babies will
learn to regulate their appetite.
First teeth begin to emerge at around 6
months; soft toast, crackers, and teething
biscuits help with discomfort.
Finger foods may be introduced at 8 months at
which time babies will “explore” their food.
Messiness is to be expected.
Twelve to 36 Months: More Self-Feeding
Nutrition should come from meats and other
protein sources, fruits and vegetables, breads and
grains, and dairy products.
By 18 months, toddlers can handle a cup.
By 24 months, they can feed themselves neatly with
A diagnosis given to children who are consistently
underweight or who fail to gain weight as expected.
Organic: caused by underlying medical condition or
Nonorganic: caused by environmental and
or a combination of both
Infant stops breathing, usually
during night, and dies without
• Highest cause of infant death
• Highest risk is 4 to 6 weeks of
age (according to your book)
• Highest Risk according to
most other resources is 2-4
• Prone position increases risk
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): the most common cause
of postneonatal deaths in developed countries; commonly
occurs during sleep while the babies are lying on their stomachs,
although the actual mechanism of death is still unknown.
Increased risks if:
• Lower birth weight
• Siblings with SIDS
• Sleep apnea
• Lower SES groups
• Exposure to cigarette smoke
• Placement in soft bedding
Many feel that Co-sleeping
However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) warns parents not to place their
infants to sleep in adult beds, stating that the practice
puts babies at risk of suffocation and strangulation.
And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees.
Any drugs or alcohol consumption makes co-sleeping
Search for co-sleeping on Google and see what you get
Accidents are the leading cause of injury and death
in children between 1 and 4 years of age.
Baby walkers are responsible for more injuries than
any other product designed for them.
Child safety seats lower the risk of death 70% for
infants and 55% for toddlers.
Should provide indoor and outdoor space for
development of gross and fine motor skills
Should provide activities to promote learning
Should meet adequate health and safety
Should be staffed with trained caregivers