My Baby Book

Julia Hall


What is Development?

Development is defined by the growth of humans throughout their lifespan; whether physical, social, emotional, moral or intellectual, these changes take place as a person progresses from conception to death.


Table of Contents:

> 4 Stages of Development

- Prenatal (see box #3)

- Childhood (see box #4~14)

- Adolescence (see box #15)

- Adulthood (see box #16)



Prenatal Development: Progress Before Birth

1) Germinal Stage: The union of a mother's egg and a father's sperm creates a cell called a zygote; during the first two weeks of pregnancy, this zygote travels through the Fallopian tube to implant itself into the mother's uterine tissue and prepare for further development.

2) Embryonic Stage: Once the zygote implants itself into the wall of the uterus, it becomes a blastocyst. Upon implantation, this blastocyst begins to divide rapidly in a process called differentiation to create cells that will eventually make up the baby. After the embryo undergoes differentiation, a process called gastrulation makes germ layers that will eventually form the baby's tissue and major organ systems, such as the heart, nervous system, and digestive tract. This entire embryonic stage usually lasts from implantation to 2 months after conception.

3) Fetal Stage: This stage officially occurs after the 10th week of pregnancy; the baby is no longer referred to as an embryo and is instead referred to as a fetus. Over the course of development from the embryonic stage until birth, many of the major organ systems will mature. Facial features become defined, muscles develop, and the baby may begin moving. As the brain, nervous system and reflexes strengthen, the baby prepares to face the real world!

It is common for pregnant women to experience intense cravings for certain foods; my mother recalls craving pineapples and watermelons while pregnant with me.



Infancy and Childhood

A newborn infant, usually one less than four weeks old, is commonly known as a neonate.

- Grasping/Palmer Reflex: This occurs when a baby's hand closes around another person's finger; the more one tries to remove their finger, the tighter the baby's grasp usually becomes.

- Rooting Reflex: When one strokes a baby's cheek, the baby will most likely turn toward the side that was stroked and begin making sucking noises.

- Sucking Reflex: When a baby feels the pressure of an object against the roof of the mouth, such as a finger, breast or milk bottle, he/she will often begin sucking it.

- Swallowing Reflex: As milk enters the infant's mouth, he/she will reflexively begin swallowing; this is vital for survival, because children without a proper swallowing reflex are susceptible to choking.

- Babinski Reflex: This reflex occurs when a baby's foot is stroked, and the toes fan out, moving upwards and downwards.

- Moro Reflex: A baby may begin to cry and extend limbs out of fear due to a loud noise, sudden movement, or a sensation of falling.

I am told that when I was a baby, I had a sucking/swallowing reflex, rooting reflex, and grasping/palmer reflex.


Temperament: the way a child approaches and reacts to the world; influences a child's behavior and the way one interacts with others.

According to both of my parents, I was an "angel, a phenomenal baby, incredibly easy and flexible." :-)

3 Basic Temperamental Styles:

- Easy: Children are happy, flexible, regular in sleeping and eating habits, adaptable and calm.

- Slow-to-warm-up: Children are less active and tend to be fussy, may withdraw from or react negatively to new situations but become more positive with more exposure.

- Difficult: Fussy, irregular in sleeping and eating habits, intense in reactions and easily upset by noise and new situations.

- Mixed: A combination of easy and difficult temperaments; depending on child's mood.

My parents tell me that I was usually a very easy-going baby; I ate, slept, and excreted waste very regularly, for the most part never fussed unless I was hungry or sleepy, and was never bothered by new situations, loud sounds, or people.


Attachment: a strong bond between the primary caregivers and the baby.

- I was most attached to my mother because I was always hungry; she was my life support and I knew it.

- "Imprinting" = Critical period of time early in one's life when he/she forms attachments and develops a concept of his/her own identity; most babies imprint with their mother.

- I had an obsessive attachment with my pacifier and blanket; my parents could never seem to get either of those two objects away from me.


Cognitive Development: how a person perceives, thinks, and gains understanding of his or her world.

Jean Piaget: Stage theory of Cognitive Development

1) Sensorimotor Stage (0~2 years old)

A stage of rapid growth in which a child begins to understand the world through reflexes, trial and error, and assimilation.

I remember a time when I was probably about 2 years old, I accidentally locked myself in my room. I didn't know how to unlock the door and cried for my mother to let me out, but she left me to learn to unlock the door myself. After crying for a few minutes, I eventually figured out how to let myself out.

When I was young, I constantly played with jig-saw puzzles; my grandparents bought me puzzles for my birthday, and once I completed one, I would go through a process of dumping it out and redoing it multiple times in a day. I believe my repetitive practice with puzzles helped with my cognitive development by training by brain and gaining understanding through trial and error.


Language Development:

- Despite my preference towards my mother and her milk, my first words were apparently "Dada".

- I said my first word at approximately 5 months.

- When my parents said to me "I love you," I always immediately responded with "I love you whole bunch."

- Telegraphic Speech: a form of speech in which conjunctions or articles are not present and sentences are compressed. ("Daddy here" vs "Daddy is here")


Physical Development:

I was about 6 months old when I was able to sit upright (although I could never stay upright for too long).

I began growing my first tooth when I was about 8 months old.

I took my first step when I was about 8 months old.


Jean Piaget: Stage theory of Cognitive Development

2) Preoperational Stage (2~7 years old)

Children of this stage are able to mentally represent events and objects are usually believers of animism; most engage in symbolic play and believe that toys and teddy bears have human-like qualities and feelings.

When I was young, I loved playing with my stuffed rabbit; I named it Mr. Fuzz and carried it with me everywhere. Because I saw this toy as a rabbit with human-like qualities, I talked to it and fed it; By playing with this toy I was able to develop cognitive and social skills that i could carry on and apply to when I engaged with real people.


Jean Piaget: Stage theory of Cognitive Development

3) Concrete Operational Stage (7~11 years old)

Children become less egocentric and begin thinking more logically; they are able to perform many mental operations and thoughts using concrete concepts.

When I was young, I was apparently a very curious child and constantly asked my parents questions about how the world worked.

At this age, I still constantly carried around my stuffed rabbit, Mr. Fuzz. However, I finally was able to determine that he in fact did not have human-like qualities.


Zone of Proximal Development: is defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86)

In other words, a child in the zone of proximal development of more skillful peers or adults are able to effectively develop skills by observing and cooperating with each other.

I idolized everything that my parents did, and as a result, I copied all their moves; Luckily they set a good example. I ate vegetables, sat at the table to do my homework, and had good manners.


Jean Piaget: Stage theory of Cognitive Development

4) Formal Operational Stage (12 years old & up)

Children develop the skill to think about abstract concepts while also using deductive reasoning and systematic planning. Necessary for science, math, and long-term planning, this formal operational stage lasts until adulthood.

Adolescent Egoscentrism: Stage of self-absorption that leads to only being able to see the world through one's own perspective. Adolescents of the ages of 11~20 are often egocentric and believe in an imaginary audience; easily upset and argumentative.

Although my egocentrism was never too bad, I did go through a phase in middle school when I constantly argued with my parents or was easily offended.

Adolescent "personal fable": Adolescent's belief that they are highly special and superior to others; due to this self-absorption, this belief could lead to an adolescent taking risks that may have serious consequences.

Sometimes I find that I have a mindset of "oh, that could never happen to me". It's not necessarily because of superiority, but I find myself believing that the chance of a certain thing happening to me is not likely.

Adolescent "imaginary audience": Belief that a group of followers exist who constantly watch and judge one's every move, arising from idea of adolescent egocentrism. Usually results in moodiness and one's tendency to easily become embarrassed.

I often find myself easily becoming embarrassed over little events and have to tell myself that no "audience" is watching or criticizing me.


3 Major Parenting Styles: (by Diana Baumrind)

- Authoritarian: Parents have strict rules and expectations; may not express much warmth or nurturing and often utilizes punishment rather than discipline.

- Permissive (Laissez-Faire): Parents have few rules or standards of behavior; usually nurturing and loving towards kids but resort to using toys, gifts, or food as bribery to get child to behave.

- Authoritative (Democratic): Expresses warmth and nurturance and listens to their children; encourages children's independence while placing limits, consequences and expectations on behavior.

I believe good parenting is a balance of loving adoration and discipline for bad behavior. One who is too permissive may not receive the respect a parent deserves from their child, but one who is too authoritarian may restrict their child's freedoms and may receive negative feedback. Although parenting styes vary with the temperament of the child, I believe authoritative parenting is the most effective.

If anything, my mother may have tended to be slightly more authoritarian and my father slightly more permissive, but both were very loving and most often utilized the authoritative parenting style.


Personality Development:

Identity vs. Role confusion (ages 13~18): In an age where adolescents need to develop a sense of self and personal identity, some may struggle with feeling secure and "fitting in." Teens may experiment with different roles, activities or behaviors. According to Erikson, this process is necessary for forming a strong identity and developing a personally sense of direction in life.

Intimacy vs. Isolation (ages 18~30): During this stage, young adults face the challenge of forming close relationships with others; Erikson believed that it was important for people to develop committed relationships with other people; success leads to good relationships while failure leads to loneliness and isolation.

Of all the different stages in life, to some, these two stages may be the most difficult to go through; although I personally do not remember many moments that were significantly strenuous or difficult for me, I do remember struggling with setting my priorities. In some cases, it was almost a matter of 'family or friends,' because while I wanted to follow my parent's morals and decisions, I also wanted to "live my life" and make friends with whomever I wanted to. In hindsight, I realize that my parents were always right and that I was simply going through a phase where I wanted to be a non-conformist who rebelled against society and its rules. This has shaped me to become a better version of myself because I now clearly see (for the most part) what is right and what is wrong, and I trust myself to surround myself with only good-hearted persons.


Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle adulthood: 40s~50s): Stage where adults strive to create and nurture things that will outlast them; having children, contributing to the common good, or doing things that will benefit society and future generations. However, some may remain stagnant, failing to contribute, and will feel uninvolved or unimportant. Therefore, it is important to care for others, create things, and accomplish things that make the world a better place for one's own happiness and satisfaction.

Integrity vs. Despair (Old Age: 60s and up): Adults, often the elderly, look back on the life they have lived and come away with either a sense of fulfillment from a life well-lived or a sense of regret from a life mis-spent. Those that are successful look back with a few regrets but a general feeling of satisfaction, while those that are unsuccessful will feel bitterness and despair over a wasted life.

When I am one day on the brink of death, I hope that I am proud of the life I lived. I hope to look back and see that I have contributed to society and made the world a better place. I hope to have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on; if I find myself in a blunder, I hope I can face it and accept it so that I will not live a regretful life. I will tell people how I really feel, do the things I really want to do, make the things I really want to make, and do everything in my power to not let myself or my parents regret my actions.