4 Physical Development in Infancy & Toddlerhood

After this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the physical changes that occur during the first two years of life.

  2. Identify common infant reflexes.

  3. Discuss the sleep needs during the first two years of life.

  4. Summarize the sequence of both fine and gross motor skills.

  5. Recognize the developing sensory capacities of infants and toddlers.

  6. Explain how to meet the evolving nutritional needs of infants and toddlers.

Welcome to the story of development from infancy through toddlerhood; from birth until about two years of age. Researchers have given this part of the life span more attention than any other period, perhaps because changes during this time are so dramatic and so noticeable and perhaps because we have assumed that what happens during these years provides a foundation for one’s life to come. However, it has been argued that the significance of development during these years has been overstated (Bruer, 1999). Nevertheless, this is the period of life that contemporary educators, healthcare providers, and parents have focused on most heavily. We will examine growth and nutrition during infancy, as well as other prominent physical changes that take place during this time.147

A sleeping newborn.^[[Image](https://unsplash.com/photos/WCbCRXk7nmU) by [Carlo Navarro](https://unsplash.com/@carlonavarro) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com/)]

Figure 4.1: A sleeping newborn.148

  1. Lifespan Development - Module 4: Infancy by Lumen Learning references Psyc 200 Lifespan Psychology by Laura Overstreet, licensed under CC BY 4.0↩︎

  2. Image by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash↩︎