Cognitive and physical development of infants has been an object of research since the XX century. Its conventions were set by Jean Piaget, whose theory is developed and corrected by his followers. Nevertheless, there is a common understanding that individual development is a mixed product of environment and heredity influence on them. Knowledge of these aspects may contribute to one’s professional development if they have to deal with infant behavior or analyze the latter.
To begin with, one should define infant cognitive and physical development. As a rule, at the age of 2 months, children typically start to pay attention to faces, follow objects with eyes, and express boredom if an activity is not entertaining enough. Moving on, at the age of 6 months, they tend to be able to observe the surrounding environment, bring things to mouth and demonstrate their curiosity about objects, and pass them from hand to hand. Hence, cognitive and physical development is interrelated, which is seen in the early stages of development.
Speaking of the constant dilemma of whether heredity or environment has a more significant effect on prenatal development, one can justly claim that these factors work together. Studies try to assess the impact of each, including kinship studies, that bring the academic society to the conclusion that an individual’s reaction to anything is indeed a genetically determined and unique response to the environment. In other words, the tabula rasa concept, as well as nativism, seem irrelevant in today’s academia.
Another point to be made considers the current trends of infant development studies. Scholars tend to correct Jean Piaget’s fundamental theory of cognitive development that explains the nature of knowledge gradually acquired by an individual. The Neo-Piagetian theorists dig in the explanation of how the stage-to-stage development occurs and analyze anomalies and individual cases more precisely. Nevertheless, contemporary theories – from social learning theory and Lev Vygotsky’s concept of ecological systems theory – agree that there is a balance between the environmental and endogenous factors.
As for my personal experience, my infant development can be assessed as standard, though I experienced minor issues with speech development that continued until the elementary school age. Thanks to the early assistance, it hardly harmed the overall cognitive development and ability to learn. That is one reason why I do not support the nativist camp that believes that individuals are born with initial cognitive modules.
Finally, all this knowledge may contribute to anybody’s professional and personal life. On the one hand, awareness of the current academic vision of the infant development is an a priori basis for researching the area. Moreover, it is a necessary condition for the ones seeking to work with children, especially if they have special conditions that affect their development like autism spectrum disorder, for instance. On the other hand, as many individuals think of having a child on their own, it is vital to understand what can be done to make its quality of life as good as possible and how, for example, the environment should be adapted in order to do so.
To conclude, infant development – both cognitive and physical – have, for a reasonable time, been an object of research, which still is not set on the mainstream theory. Meanwhile, Jean Piaget stays the iconic person in the history of these studies who, aside from other things, pointed out the combined influence of environment and heredity on individual cognitive and physical development. Meanwhile, the personal experience of the development mentioned above may vary dramatically, and it is normal. Awareness of the infant development patterns leads an individual to an expansion of their professional and personal opportunities.