Case Study of an Infancy Period

Infancy is a period when the most dramatic developmental changes happen in a human. The following essay will investigate multiple aspects of an infant’s development and the role of caregivers illustrated by the example of a 4-year old girl named Ann.

Ann was born full-term, weighing about 6 lbs with a length of 18 in. After 6 months, she weighed 14 lbs, and her length was 24 in. By the age of 2, the girl gained a significant amount of weight, which was 25 lbs, and her length became 32 in. As a newborn, Ann had erratic and irregular sleeping patterns falling asleep when it was time to eat or staying up all night crying. The situation changed when she was around 6-months old, and her sleeping patterns became more predictable. Ann needed 9 hours as she approached her first year of life. Toilet training began as the girl stopped using nappies at 18-months. She did not feel comfortable using a potty initially, but by the age of 3, she was completely ready to use it regularly.

Ann was able to stand and sit with support at 3 months. During her first year of life, she reached another milestone and learned to walk without support maintaining balance. As her motor development progressed by the age of 2, she could walk confidently and squat to pick up toys from the floor. Ann’s favorite visual stimuli was a brightly-colored bear-shaped pillow. She also loved lullabies and nursery rhymes, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and One Little Finger. As Ann got older, she started to enjoy listening to bedtime stories about princesses like Cinderella or Snow White. Her favorite toy at the time when her teeth started to show up was a bunny-shaped teether, which would bring her comfort and relief the pain. It was later replaced by a soft teddy bear that she enjoyed to touch. Ann did not sustain any serious injuries as a baby and a toddler, but she would sometimes get bumps and scratches after playing outside. As a baby, she would cry a lot from pain, but later became more confident and cried less in case of a minor injury.

Before the age of 2, Ann disliked most meals that she was offered. Later on, she began to enjoy the taste of her favorite foods, such as eggs or cheese, and the smell of fruit. However, most vegetables were still her least favorite foods. Ann learned mostly through classical ways of observation as well as imitation during play and activities with her mother. Operant conditioning, which involves rewards and punishment, was also present in Ann’s development during her toilet training and feeding. By the age of 6 months, her language development included making different sounds to interact with parents and trying to repeat the words after them. By 12 months, the girl was able to say a few words and respond to simple phrases. By the age of 18 months, she could point at familiar things, while a 2-year old Ann became confident with action words and used them during playtime.

Ann was an emotional child before the age of 2, who cried a lot when she could not get whatever she wanted. After her 2nd birthday, she became more patient. Her crying patters changed too, and she cried considerably less. Ann used to get scared in situations that involved meeting strangers walking away from unfamiliar people and feeling anxious when they touched her. She did not show any signs of stranger anxiety at the age of 2. In general, infants have different emotional styles that reflect their temperament i.e., “individual differences in behavioral styles, emotions, and characteristic ways of responding” (Santrock, 2018, p. 117). According to the classification based on temperament, there are 3 types of children: easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up. An easy child is usually in a good mood and adjusts easily to new events. A difficult child has a negative attitude, cries often, and has difficulty adapting to change. Slow-to-warm-up child might be negative and has a low intensity of mood. Based on the definitions, Ann might be classified as a difficult child since she used to cry a lot and expressed a negative attitude to her environment.

Santrock (2018) defined attachment as “a close emotional bond between two people” (p. 124). The Strange Situation is used to measure infants’ attachment during a series of “introductions, separations, and reunions with caregiver” (p. 125). Babies can be described as securely attached, insecure avoidant, insecure resistant, and insecure disorganized based on their response to the Strange Situation. Securely attached babies feel safe when their caregiver is present, while insecure avoidant babies express their negative feelings by avoiding the caregiver. Insecure resistant babies get close to the caregiver at first but then push her/ him away. Finally, insecure disorganized babies are disoriented, fearful, and confused in the Strange Situation. Ann was a securely attached baby, as she would cling to her mother when faced with unfamiliar situations refusing to let her mother go. Because of Ann’s strong attachment, her mother decided to take care of the baby by herself instead of putting her in daycare. As a result, the girl became more attached to her parents and had difficulties interacting with strangers and other children.

Overall, the real-life example of Ann helped to illustrate the gradual changes in behavior, attitude, and cognitive development of a child as these characteristics are becoming more complex as time goes by. The analysis of the infant’s developmental peculiarities at different stages of life demonstrated how dramatic these changes are and how they can be affected by caregivers.

Reference

Santrock, J. W. (2018). Essentials of life-span development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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