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Observation of Motor & Perceptual Development in Infants

by Darlena Cunha, studioD

As a parent, it's much easier to observe motor development in your baby than perceptual development. Your infant starts raising her head, she lifts herself on her arms during tummy time and she begins to retain control over her limbs. These are all motor skills that are easily seen by an outsider, according to the California Department of Education. But how your child perceives the world around her and what her mind takes from her day-to-day activities are developments that are a little more hidden and require the adept eye of someone who is paying attention.

Gross Motor Skills

As your baby grows, he'll begin taking in information as opposed to simply hiding away and letting things happen to him. You'll notice his neck strength increase, and by around 3 months he should be able to hold his own head up without support, says the University of Michigan Health System. With this, his vision and hearing will improve and he'll welcome messages about the world around him. He'll recognize the voice of his loved ones, which a parent will see as his eyes will follow them. He'll move his head to look at or listen to a familiar sound. You'll see your infant's startle reflex fade and instead, he'll start controlling his hand movements so that he'll be able to bring his fingers to his face on purpose, the University says. These motor skills are all easily observed.

Perceptual Development Connected with Gross Motor Skills

As a child begins to control her own movements, allow the world to enter her consciousness and take part in that world all around her, she will also begin to organize and interpret that information in her brain, according to the California Department of Education. When she swivels her head toward you or reaches out to you, you have observed not only the gross motor skills she is developing, but also her ability to connect who you are to her with what she wants from you, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP stresses lots of touching and connection in the beginning stages of a baby's life. The action indicates the thought processes behind it.

Fine Motor Skills

As young as a couple months old, your infant will begin experimenting with clenching and loosening his fists. By 3 months, you'll see the automatic encircling of hand around finger disappear, replaced by a more conscious hand-holding. At this point, he'll also start to explore his pincer grasp, though it will take weeks to perfect. The Grey Bruce Health Unit says your baby will start appreciating textures, easily observed by his touching all different materials just to absorb their makeup and learn their differences from one another.

Perceptual Developments Connected with Fine Motor Skills

Perceptual developments associated with fine motor skills are harder for a parent to pick up on, but you can observe them through preferences along with mood. Your infant should soon begin picking up on tastes, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. She may prefer the taste of your milk to formula, for instance, or vice versa. Not only are her taste buds developing, but she is taking the information her senses are giving her and compartmentalizing them into likes and dislikes.

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

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