When Does Infancy End? | Ages And Stages Of Infancy

Infants are a more specialized or formal synonym of babies and it is stage post of the newborn. The infant is a Latin derivative word from “infans,” meaning ‘unable to speak’ or ‘speechless.’ 

In the infancy stage, infants do not own the ability to speak, and the mother has the responsibility to take care through her baby’s infancy period age. To learn more about what you mean by infancy, let us define infancy and get an insight into the infancy period. 

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Ages and stages of infancy

When a baby is born, it can be referred to as a newborn for the first two months. Although they are newborns to the physical world, they rely on their mother for food and nutrition during this period; only they do is sleep, eat, poop, and cry. 

The period after this is termed the infancy period. From 2 months to 1 year, the baby is in the infancy stage or can be referred to as an infant. 

The first sign of infancy stage development can be seen from the beginning of the infancy period. Therefore, the baby is referred to as an infant even when it is in the newborn stage, as the terms are synonymous. 

Characteristics of Infancy

Characteristics of infancy can be very specific to each infant’s growth and development depending on their birth. Before birth, when they are still in the mother’s womb, they are connected to as a fetus. 

When the labor and delivery are normal, the infant is said to be a normal infant. This is because their characteristics and developmental stage are normal and natural, unlike prematurely born infants.  

Common Characteristics are of infancy are: 

  • Distinctive appearance with a large head, arms, and legs relatively short.
  • Narrower shoulders and hips
  • Slightly protruding abdomen. 
  • Downy, unpigmented hair on many body areas except feet and palms usually disappears within a few weeks after birth.
  • head with full of hair or almost no hair
  • The navel is formed. After a few weeks, it dries and falls off. 

Infant Growth and Development

Infancy stage development is very crucial. This initial period determines infants’ health in physical ability, immunity, physiologically, intellectual, and even psychological development. In addition, the growth during the infancy stage is astoundingly rapid, and the baby may appear new each day as they tend to learn new things and understand quickly.

Early Period: 

In their early weeks, the infant spends their time experiencing different stages of sleeping like deep sleep, light sleep, tiredness, and even quiet alert sleeping. They are always on an alert mode and crying, which is a very common response but cannot express due to their inability to speak. 

They sleep nearly 16 hours every day, but this sleep pattern is also constantly changing and maybe last for a few hours or sometimes for a few minutes. Therefore, the changes during this period are quite unpredictable.

In the period after these initial reactions, the growth and development can occur in many ways like cognitively, the language ability, they become physically able. So the infancy period is full of social development milestones. 

Infant’s development:

Physical Development: 

  1. 0-2 Months: While lying, they can lift and turn their heads.
  2. 3-6 Months: Vision is improved, able to track objects. Neck muscles are developed, and they can sit with support with heads up.
  3. 6-9 Months: Can Sit steadily for a long time without support. May start crawling and can even attempt walking by holding hand.
  4. 9-12Months: Infants can stand alone without support and may even take a few steps independently. 

Cognitive Development:

  1. 0-2 Months: The infants in this stage are just cried a lot, and other times they are observed with little notable difference.
  2. 3-6 Months: The infants try to act in a way that they find it relaxing or soothing, like sucking on their thumb.
  3. 6-9 Months: They are being adapted to an attitude of expectancy, like when they see a bottle they expect to be fed, so a sense of predictability and understanding is being developed.
  4. 9-12 Months: They try to experiment in different ways. Also, they begin to understand they can express hunger or pain by different means and gain attention from their mother or father. 

Language Development:

  1. 0-2 Months: They are alert to voices around them and only might communicate via crying for hunger and pain. 
  2. 3-6 Months: Crying reduces, and they now coo and make certain vowel sounds like ‘oo’ or ‘aah.’ 
  3. 6-9 Months: They can now babble, laugh, and even blow bubbles with excitement. 
  4. 9-12 Months: They imitate the sounds they hear and try saying ma, papa, or dada. Then, they try to speak when they hear more, even ‘no’ or ‘yes.’ 

Sensory Development:

  1. 0-2 Months: They can hear even at the fetal stage, but as infants, their hearing ability matures, identifying human voices. 
  2. 3-6 Months: Sense of smell, taste, and touch strengthens; they even enjoy the sweet taste. Vision also improves and can track objects.
  3. 6-9 Months: Color vision and contrast develop and can differentiate and identify different colors. 
  4. 9-12 Months: Senses are now mature and can very distinctively identify and recognize what they like or dislike.

Social Development:

  1. 0-2 Months: In the beginning, they make faces and can recognize others. 
  2. 3-6 Months: They smile a lot and even play peek-a-boo; they are playful and kick their legs in the air in a pleasant state. 
  3. 6-9 Months: They imitate the moods of those near them. They understand the emotions and moods of their parents or siblings and behave accordingly. 
  4. 9-12 Months: They can interact with others and with themselves. They also try to understand their own needs, and they can converse with them. 

When does infancy end?

An infant can be considered a child anywhere from birth to 1 year. Similarly, a child can refer to any child from birth to 4 years of age, including newborns, infants, and toddlers.

Human infancy ends when the child is detached from the breast, between 24 and 36 months of age in pre-industrialized societies. All deciduous teeth have erupted by this age, even for very late-maturing infants.

Dos and Don’ts For the Infants:

Dos:

  • Regularly wash your hands before holding the baby, and also ask others who come near your baby to do the same.
  • Try to bond with your baby by talking to them, playing music, or any activity that you can participate in enthusiastically.
  • When holding, always support the neck until they learn to do it independently.
  • Mothers should include the infant close to their body to comfort and soothe them. 
  • Try to stay near your infant as much as possible.
  • Whenever traveling, see that the infant is well-fastened and protected from all possible dangers.
  • Learn all the bathing, cleansing, changing, feeding, and burping needs.

Don’t:

  • Do not leave the baby crying; try to swaddle gently.
  • Please do not underestimate the power of immunization and vaccination, do not go for it; without proper research.
  • Don’t throw the baby in the air to play when it is not developed enough to hold itself steadily.
  • Don’t shake your baby in frustration or while playing.
  • Don’t drive fast with an infant or even when in a stroller. They must be well protected.
  • Do not force-feed the baby when they are unwilling to complete the food.
  • Please don’t indulge in any negative patterns like fighting, frustration, anger as they can sense the energy in the room.
  • Do not smoke near your baby; they must be only exposed to clean and fresh air. 

Conclusion

The infancy stage is crucial and one of the most important stages of development. They are learning something new each day that changes the parent’s perception, and they also start noticing things in a new manner. 

Infants must be cared with love, nutrition, and attention and should not be limited to anything that restricts their growth. 

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