9.2: Intellectual Development in the First Year of Life

Riley, Hannah, Abbey

During the first year of a baby's life, growth occurs in many areas. These areas include size, intelligence, motor skills, social skills, and personality.

Early Learning Abilities

Signs of Intellectual Growth

  • Remembering experiences- information from the senses can be interpreted in light of past experiences; perception...the ability to learn from sensory information. Ex: A two or three month old baby may stop crying when someone enters the room because the baby anticipates being picked up.
  • Making Associations- associating a caregiver with comfort
  • Understanding Cause & Effect- one action resulting in another action or condition. Ex: Sucking causes milk to flow. As babies motor skills develop, cause-and-effect learning changes.
  • Paying Attention- growth of attention span; how long someone can focus on a task without getting bored. Infants with above average intelligence have a shorter attention span.

Stimulating the Senses

  • Talking, reading, singing and humming are good ways to vary and stimulate an infants hearing
  • Ex: A baby's senses of touch and taste are routinely stimulated as he or she is changed and fed.
  • cuddling and rocking are ways to build a baby's security and sense of trust

Concept Development

  • Concept- general category of objects and information
  • Children learn words and concepts by using these 3 principles:

1) thinking labels are for whole objects, not parts

---ex: "dog" means the WHOLE dog, not the dog's nose or tail

2) labels apply to the group to which the individual objects belong

---ex: child may refer to any four-legged creature as "dog"

3) an object can only have one label

---ex: "mommy" and "she" can mean the same person

Jean Piaget's Periods of Learning


  • lasts from birth to about age 2
  • babies learn through their senses and actions
  • it is important to stimulate baby because they form more dendrites so neurons can establish pathways
  • object permanence- objects will continue to exist even when out of sight
  • 6 stages in sensorimotor period:
  1. birth to 1 month: practices inborn reflexes--does not understand self as a separate person
  2. 1-4 months: combines 2 or more reflexes--develops hand/mouth coordination
  3. 4-8 months: acts intentionally to produce results--improves hand/eye coordination
  4. 8-12 months: begins to solve problems--finds partially hidden objects--imitates others
  5. 12-18 months: finds hidden objects--explores/experiments--understand that objects exist independently
  6. 18-24 months: solves problems thinking through sequences--thinks using symbols and symbolic thinking (makes it possible to read)...use of words and numbers to stand for ideas--imaginative thinking and imaginative play...pretending


  • 2-7 years
  • children live in the "now" and think in terms of their own activities

Concrete Operations

  • 7-11 years
  • can think logically but learn best through experience

Formal Operations

  • 11-adult
  • capable of abstract thinking

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