Early Stages of Child Development

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Nature has the Starring Role in the Early Stages of Child Development, but then Nurture Takes Center Stage

How do we know our children are growing at a normal rate? That is the question on every parents mind when that little bundle of joy first shows up in the world. We’ll be happy if our children just grow normally. We don’t want to pressure them. The stages of child development at the beginning of our children’s lives are primarily in the hands of nature. We know that. We also know that we need to provide the nurture necessary for our children to grow. We’ll need to provide the food, shelter, clothing, the warmth or coolness to keep our temperature-sensitive baby comfortable. We’ll have to change diapers, bathe them, and give them the emotional security that repetitive hugging and coddling impart. The rest is up to nature, to genetics, to God.

While we’re sure to take our responsibilities seriously, we’ll often wonder if nature is doing its part. Not surprisingly, nature seems to do quite well on its own. By stages of child development, nature grows our infants from dependent, helpless beings into independent, walking, talking, seeing, feeling humans.

In the first of the stages of child development, from 0 to 8 months, nature, along with our nurturing, increases our child’s height and weight. By the end of this first stage, our child will be about 28 to 30 inches long and twice the weight the child was at birth. Our child’s head will be the size of chest and abdomen, teeth will have sprouted, and baby fat covers the neck, arms, and thighs. Our children will blink, grasp, hold objects, and transfer objects from one hand to another. They can roll, pull themselves up, sit, put objects in their mouths, coo, gurgle, then babble, followed by making vowel sounds, then double syllables, turn to sounds, see up to short distances, and their final eye color appears at the end of this stage. Most of this development is nature’s acts, but again, supported by our nurturing.

In the second stage of the stages of child development, from months 8 to 12, nature again takes center stage. By the end of the first year of our children’s life, nature has increased their birth size by 1.5 times. Now, they’re 3 times their original birth weight. Environment temperature still affects their body temperature. Their hands grow disproportionately larger than the rest of their bodies, and their legs are still bowed. They have attained binocular vision and can see up to 13 to 20 feet away. Teeth have appeared. They’re just beginning to stand. They’re gaining a sense a balance and can sit up and crawl. They can reach, pinch, hold and release objects, walk with help, and locate sounds. They can wave, cooperate with dressing, and they are babbling constantly.

In the third stage of the stages of child development, from their first year to their third, or from 18 months to 3 years, nature is taking it all the way. Now they can walk. That’s why we call the stage the toddler stage. With their bowed legs they toddle. By the end of the third year they’ll be running, skipping, and  climbing starts. They’ll be able to draw. Their questions will increase with their vocabulary. They’ll be able to play with others now. They push, pull, carry, turn book pages, and play with toys. They scribble, recognize colors and are picking up the alphabet. By the age of three, nature has brought them up to a level of motor skills that will only continue to be refined.

Although nature seems to predominate during these early stages of child development, nurture plays a supporting role and will some emerge as the starring character. Now learning, schooling, reading, and speaking begins to shape the mind. Nature will still be working, but more behind the scenes as interpersonal relations begin to dominate. Nurture, plus what nature inclines through heredity, is up to bat!


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