The lifespan development process is an integral general approach to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the changes human beings experience throughout life. According Bogin (2019), lifespan development represents a complete review of human development from conception to the end of life. The study of lifespan development is important since it identifies significant changes individuals are bound to experience during the degeneration of the body. Furthermore, it identifies key physical changes, cognitive changes, nutritional needs, and sensory needs that occur during this process. The following is an overview of lifespan development and changes which occur in an infant.
Physical changes refer to developments and transformations in the body’s form. These changes occur in the brain, external muscle tissue, and bones. In infants, these changes can only be achieved through proper nutrition and sufficient sleep. It is common for developmental changes to occur at a rapid pace among infants due to the physiological changes that are often taking place during this phase in life. Muscle tissue also develops during infancy, which then leads to development of motor skills and reflexes, in addition to the ability perceive their immediate environment (Magnusson & Greitz, 2019). After four weeks, their mobility is still limited; although they are only capable of moving their limbs and chin while on their back. They grasp rattles by the fourth month, turn in the fifth month, and finally learn to stand by the tenth month.
Cognitive changes refer to changes in brain function among infants, especially relation to higher functions such as reasoning and memory. During this phase, neural pathways start to strengthen while they start learning about their immediate environment. It is believed that this level of learning takes place in infants as a direct result of their senses. Infants only sense and perceive their environment during this stage as the only channel for the transfer of information. The presence of this information in infants is also a consequence of their motor behavior during their interaction with the immediate environment. Goal-directed behaviors emerge among children as they start to show evidence of reaction to movements and persons in their immediate vicinity. Infants typically start to recognize the voices they around them while sharpening their overall ability to learn and think.
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Proper nutrition essentially drives growth and development in infants. Nutrients from the foods consumed during the formative stages of life combined with adequate sleep are crucial as some of the most important requirements during this initial phase. In particular brain activity and overall cognitive function depends heavily on the presence of cholesterol in the diet during the first three months (Lerner & Overton, 2020). Breast milk is commonly fed to children between the third and sixth month due to the positive impact it has on infants, while making it possible for them to develop a strong immune system. Infants should be breast fed regularly to build energy reserves before weaning them off.
During the initial phases of development, infants also experience perceptible changes to their sense. Their vision and ability to observe their immediate environment improves greatly, in addition to being able hear various sounds in their vicinity. They also develop an improved sense of smell and taste, which are routinely used as instruments for learning. Sensory changes are also used as an important tool for exploring their immediate environment to acclimatize with the changes noted. Parents and caregivers are often advised to take advantage of these changes by actively participating in developing them through meaningful and consistent stimulation.