Infancy: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An infant or baby is the term used to refer to the very young offspring of humans.

An infant in a common baby picture
A young infant




The term infant derives from the Latin word infans, meaning "unable to speak." It is typically applied to children between the ages of 1 month and 12 months . However, definitions vary between birth and 3 years of age.

Approximate outline of development periods in child development. Infancy marked in green at left.

"Infant" is also a legal term referring to any child under the age of legal adulthood.[1]

Newborn and neonate

In general contexts, a newborn is an infant who is within hours, days, or up to a few weeks from birth. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate (from Latin, neonatus, newborn) refers to an infant in the first 28 days of life (less than a month old).[2] The term "newborn" includes premature infants, postmature infants and full term newborns.

Infant mortality

Infant mortality is the death of an infant in the first year of life. Major causes of infant mortality include dehydration, infection, congenital malformation and SIDS.[3]

This epidemiological indicator is recognized as a very important measure of the level of health care in a country because it is directly linked with the health status of infants, children, and pregnant women as well as access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.[4] [5]

The newborn


Newborn infant, just seconds after delivery.

A newborn's shoulders and hips are narrow, the abdomen protrudes slightly, and the arms and legs are relatively short. In the developed world, the average birth weight of a full-term newborn is approximately 7 ½ lbs.(3.2 kg), but is typically in the range of 5.5–10 pounds (2.7–4.6 kg). The average total body length is 14–20 inches (35.6–50.8 cm), although premature newborns may be much smaller. The Apgar score is a measure of a newborn's transition from the uterus during the first minutes of life.

A newborn's head is very large in proportion to the rest of the body, and the cranium is enormous relative to his or her face. While the adult human skull is about 1/8 of the total body length, the newborn's is about 1/4. At birth, many regions of the newborn's skull have not yet been converted to bone, leaving "soft spots" known as fontanels. The two largest are the diamond-shaped anterior fontanel, located at the top front portion of the head, and the smaller triangular-shaped posterior fontanel, which lies at the back of the head. Later in the child's life, these bones will fuse together in a natural process. A protein called noggin is responsible for the delay in an infant's skull fusion.[6]

During labour and birth, the infant's skull changes shape to fit through the birth canal, sometimes causing the child to be born with a misshapen or elongated head. It will usually return to normal on its own within a few days or weeks. Special exercises sometimes advised by physicians may assist the process.

Some newborns have a fine, downy body hair called lanugo. It may be particularly noticeable on the back, shoulders, forehead, ears and face of premature infants. Lanugo disappears within a few weeks. Infants may be born with full heads of hair; others, particularly white infants, may have very fine hair or may even be bald. Amongst fair-skinned parents, this fine hair may be blond, even if the parents are not. The scalp may also be temporarily bruised or swollen, especially in hairless newborns, and the area around the eyes may be puffy.

Newborn's digestive tracts, which of course have never been used prior to birth, are filled with a greenish-black, sticky material called meconium. This has the function of standing in for fecal material and allows the intestines to develop to the point where they can process milk immediately on birth. This material is passed by the child in the first few days.

Immediately after birth, a newborn's skin is often grayish to dusky blue in color. As soon as the newborn begins to breathe, usually within a minute or two, the skin's color returns to its normal tone. Newborns are wet, covered in streaks of blood, and coated with a white substance known as vernix caseosa, which is hypothesised to act as an antibacterial barrier. The newborn may also have Mongolian spots, various other birthmarks, or peeling skin, particularly on the wrists, hands, ankles, and feet.

A newborn's genitals are enlarged and reddened, with male infants having an unusually large scrotum. The breasts may also be enlarged, even in male infants. This is caused by naturally-occurring maternal hormones and is a temporary condition. Females (and even males) may actually discharge milk from their nipples (sometimes called witch's milk), and/or a bloody or milky-like substance from the vagina. In either case, this is considered normal and will disappear in time.

The umbilical cord of a newborn is bluish-white in color. After birth, the umbilical cord is normally cut, leaving a 1–2 inch stub. The umbilical stub will dry out, shrivel, darken, and spontaneously fall off within about 3 weeks. Occasionally, hospitals may apply triple dye to the umbilical stub to prevent infection, which may temporarily color the stub and surrounding skin purple.

Newborns lose many of the above physical characteristics quickly. Thus prototypical older babies look very different. While older babies are considered "cute", newborns can be "unattractive" by the same criteria and first time parents may need to be educated in this regard.

Internal physiological changes at birth

Upon its entry to the air-breathing world, without the nutrition and oxygenation from the umbilical cord, the newborn must begin to adjust to life outside the uterus.

The newborn's senses

As an infant's vision develops, he or she may seem preoccupied with watching surrounding objects and people.

Newborns can feel all different sensations, but respond most enthusiastically to soft stroking, cuddling and caressing. Gentle rocking back and forth often calms a crying infant, as do massages and warm baths. Newborns may comfort themselves by sucking their thumb, or a pacifier. The need to suckle is instinctive (see suction in biology) and allows newborns to feed.

Newborn infants have unremarkable vision, being able to focus on objects only about 18 inches (45 cm) directly in front of their face. While this may not be much, it is all that is needed for the infant to look at the mother’s eyes or areola when breastfeeding. Depth perception does not develop until the infant is mobile. Generally, a newborn cries when wanting to feed. When a newborn is not sleeping, or feeding, or crying, he or she may spend a lot of time staring at random objects. Usually anything that is shiny, has sharp contrasting colors, or has complex patterns will catch an infant's eye. However, the newborn has a preference for looking at other human faces above all else. (see also: infant metaphysics and infant vision)

While still inside the mother, the infant could hear many internal noises, such as the mother's heartbeat, as well as many external noises including human voices, music and most other sounds. Therefore, although a newborn's ears may have some catarrh and fluid, he or she can hear sound from before birth. Newborns usually respond to a female voice over a male voice. This may explain why people will unknowingly raise the pitch of their voice when talking to newborns (this voice change is called motherese). The sound of other human voices, especially the mother's, can have a calming or soothing effect on the newborn. Conversely, loud or sudden noises will startle and scare a newborn. Newborns have been shown to prefer sounds that were a regular feature of their prenatal environment, for example, the theme tune of a television programme that their mother watched regularly.

Newborns can respond to different tastes, including sweet, sour, bitter, and salty substances, with a preference toward sweets. It has been shown that neonates show a preference for the smell of foods that their mother ate regularly.

A newborn has a developed sense of smell at birth, and within the first week of life can already distinguish the differences between the mother's own breast milk and the breast milk of another female.[citation needed]

Care and feeding

Infants cry as a form of basic instinctive communication. A crying infant may be trying to express a variety of feelings including hunger, discomfort, overstimulation, boredom, wanting something, or loneliness.

Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by all major infant health organizations.[7] If breastfeeding is not possible or desired, bottle feeding is done with expressed breast-milk or with infant formula. Infants are born with a sucking reflex allowing them to extract the milk from the nipples of the breasts or the nipple of the baby bottle, as well as an instinctive behavior known as rooting with which they seek out the nipple. Sometimes a wet nurse is hired to feed the infant, although this is rare, especially in developed countries.

As infants grow, food supplements are added. Many parents choose commercial, ready-made baby foods to supplement breast milk or formula for the child, while others adapt their usual meals for the dietary needs of their child. Whole cow's milk can be used at one year, but lower-fat milk should not be provided until the child is 2 to 3 years old.[8] Until they are toilet-trained, infants in industrialized countries wear diapers. Diapers are usually changed by a parent or adult caregiver. Children need more sleep than adults—up to 18 hours for newborn babies, with a declining rate as the child ages. Until babies learn to walk, they are carried in the arms, held in slings or baby carriers, or transported in baby carriages or strollers. Most industrialized countries have laws requiring child safety seats for infants in motor vehicles.

Common care issues


An infant being immunized in Bangladesh

Attachment theory is primarily an evolutionary and ethological theory whereby the infant or child seeks proximity to a specified attachment figure in situations of alarm or distress, for the purpose of survival.[9] The forming of attachments is considered to be the foundation of the infant/child's capacity to form and conduct relationships throughout life. Attachment is not the same as love and/or affection although they often go together. Attachment and attachment behaviors tend to develop between the age of 6 months and 3 years. Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with the infant, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some time. Parental responses lead to the development of patterns of attachment which in turn lead to 'internal working models' which will guide the individual's feelings, thoughts, and expectations in later relationships.[10] There are a number of attachment 'styles' namely 'secure', 'anxious-ambivalent', 'anxious-avoidant', (all 'organized') and 'disorganized', some of which are more problematic than others. A lack of attachment or a seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially amount to serious disorders.


  • Simkin, Penny; et al. (1992 (late 1991)). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Meadowbook Press. ISBN 0-88166-177-5. 


  1. ^ ""Infant"". Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  2. ^ ""Neonate"". Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  3. ^ Garrett, Eilidh (2007). Infant Mortality: A Continuing Social Problem. Ashgate Pub Co. ISBN 0754645932. 
  4. ^ Hertz,, E; Hebert JR, Landon J. (July 1994). "Social and environmental factors and life expectancy, infant mortality, and maternal mortality rates: results of a cross-national comparison". Soc Sci Med. 39 (1): 105–14. doi:10.1016/0277-9536(94)90170-8. PMID 8066481. 
  5. ^ "The relationship between socioeconomic factors and maternal and infant health programs in 13 Argentine provinces" (in Spanish). Rev Panam Salud Publica 21 (4): 223–30. April 2007. PMID 17612466. 
  6. ^ Warren SM; Brunet LJ, Harland RM, Economides AN, Longaker MT (2003-04-10). "The BMP antagonist noggin regulates cranial suture fusion". Nature 422 (6932): 625–9. doi:10.1038/nature01545. PMID 12687003. 
  7. ^ Gartner LM; Morton J, Lawrence RA, Naylor AJ, O'Hare D, Schanler RJ, Eidelman AI, etal (February 2005). "Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk". Pediatrics 115 (2): 496–506. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-2491. PMID 15687461. 
  8. ^ Salkind, Neil (2006). Encyclopedia of Human Development. SAGE Publication. ISBN 1412904757. 
  9. ^ Tronick, Morelli, & Ivey, 1992, p.568. "Until recently, scientific accounts ... of the infant's early social experiences converged on the view that the infant progresses from a primary relationship with one individual... to relationships with a growing number of people... This is an epigenetic, hierarchical view of social development. We have labeled this dominant view the continuous care and contact model (CCC...). The CCC model developed from the writings of Spitz..., Bowlby..., and Provence and Lipton... on institutionalized children and is represented in the psychological views of Bowlby...[and others]. Common to the different conceptual frameworks is the belief that parenting practices and the infant's capacity for social engagement are biologically based and conform to a prototypical form. Supporters of the CCC model generally recognize that the infant and caregiver are able to adjust to a range of conditions, but they consider the adjustments observed to reflect biological variation. However, more extreme views (e.g., maternal bonding) consider certain variants as nonadaptive and as compromising the child's psychological development. Bowlby's concept of monotropism is an exemplar of the CCC perspective..." (Tronick, Morelli, & Ivey, 1992, p. 568).
  10. ^ Bretherton,I. and Munholland,K., A. Internal Working Models in Attachment Relationships: A Construct Revisited. Handbook of Attachment:Theory, Research and Clinical Applications 1999eds Cassidy,J. and Shaver, P., R. Guilford press ISBN 1-57230-087-6

See also

External links

Preceded by
Stages of human development
Succeeded by

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

INFANCY, in medical practice, the nursing age, or the period during which the child is at the breast. As a matter of convenience it is usual to include in it children up to the age of one year. The care of an infant begins with the preparations necessary for its birth and the endeavour to ensure that taking place under the best possible sanitary conditions. On being born the normal infant cries lustily, drawing air into its lungs. As soon as the umbilical cord which unites the child to the mother has ceased to pulsate, it is tied about 2 in. from the child's navel and is divided above the ligature. The cord is wrapped in a sterilized gauze pad and the dressing is not removed until the seventh to the tenth day, when the umbilicus is healed.

The baby is now a separate entity, and the first event in its life is the first bath. The room ready to receive a new-born infant should be kept at a temperature of 70° F. The temperature of the first bath should be loo° F. The child should be well supported in the bath by the left hand of the nurse, and care should be taken to avoid wetting the gauze pad covering the cord. In some cases infants are covered with a white substance termed "vernix caseosa," which may be carefully removed by a little olive oil. Sponges should never be used, as they tend to harbour bacteria. A soft pad of muslin or gauze which can be boiled should take its place. After the first ten days 94° F. is the most suitable temperature for a bath. When the baby has been well dried the skin may be dusted with pure starch powder to which a small quantity of boric acid has been added. The most important part of the toilet of a new-born infant is the care of the eyes, which should be carefully cleansed with gauze dipped in warm water and one drop of a 2% solution of nitrate of silver dropped into each eye. The clothes of a newly born child should consist exclusively of woollen undergarments, a soft flannel binder, which should be tied on, being placed next the skin, with a long-sleeved woven wool vest and over this a loose garment of flannel coming below the feet and long enough to tuck up. Diapers should be made of soft absorbent material such as well-washed linen and should be about two yards square and folded in a three-cornered shape. An infant should always sleep in a bed or cot by itself. In 1907, of 749 deaths from violence in England and Wales of children under one month, 445 were due to suffocation in bed with adults. A healthy infant should spend most of its time asleep and should be laid into its cot immediately after feeding.

The normal infant at birth weighs about 7 lb. During the two or three days following birth a slight decrease in weight occurs, usually 5 to 6 oz. When nursing begins the child increases in weight up to the seventh day, when the infant will have regained its weight at birth. From the second to the fourth week after birth (according to Camerer) an infant should gain 1 oz. daily or 12 to 2 lb monthly, from the fourth to the sixth month 2 to a of an oz. daily or 1 lb monthly, from the sixth to the twelfth month z oz. daily or less than r lb monthly. At the sixth month it should be twice the weight at birth. The average weight at the twelfth month is 20 to 21 lb. The increase of weight in artificially fed is less regular than in breast-fed babies.

1st day

3 feeds of 10 cc


I oz. in 24 hours

2nd day

8 „ 20 cc


3rd day


30 cc (I oz.)


7th day


50 cc



4th week


60 cc (2 oz.)


3 months


4 oz.


6 months


7 oz.


9 months


81 oz.



There is but one proper food for an infant, and that is its mother's milk, unless when in exceptional circumstances the mother is not allowed to nurse her child. Artificially fed children are much more liable to epidemic diseases. The child should be applied to the breast the first day to induce the flow of milk. The first week the child should be fed at intervals of two hours, the second week eight to nine times, and the fourth week eight times at intervals of two and a half hours. At two months the child is being suckled six times daily at intervals of three hours, the last feed being at 11 P.M. Where a mother cannot nurse a child the child must be artificially fed. Cow's milk must be largely diluted to suit the new-born infant. Armstrong gives the following table of dilution: 1st week, milk 1 tablespoonful, water 2 tablespoonfuls at 3 months, „ 31 tablespoonfuls, „ 3 „ added at 6 months, „ 9 3 In cities it is advisable that milk should be either sterilized by boiling or pasteurized, i.e. subjected to a form of heating which, while destroying pathogenic bacteria, does not alter the taste. The milk in a suitable apparatus is subjected to a temperature of 65° C. (149° F.) for half an hour and is then rapidly cooled to 20° C. (68° F.). Children fed on pasteurized milk should be given a teaspoonful of fresh orange juice daily to supply the missing acid and salts.

Artificial feeding is given by means of a bottle. In France all bottles with rubber tubes have been made illegal. They are a fruitful source of infection, as it is impossible to keep them clean. The best bottle is the boat-shaped one, with a wide mouth at one end, to which is attached a rubber teat, while the other end has a screw stopper. This is readily cleansed and a stream of water can be made to flow through it. All bottle teats should be boiled at least once a day for ten minutes with soda and kept in a glass-covered jar until required. A feed should be given at the temperature of 100° F.

At the ninth month a cereal maybe added to the food. Before that the infant is unable to digest starchy foods. Much starch tends to constipation, and it is rarely wise to give starchy preparations in a proportion of more than 3% to children under a year old. A child who is carefully fed in a cleanly manner should not have diarrhoea, and its appearance indicates carelessness somewhere. The English registrar-general's returns for 1906 show that in the seventy-six largest towns in England and Wales 14,306 deaths of infants under one year from diarrhoea took place in July, August and September alone. These deaths are largely preventable; when Dr Budin of Paris established his "Consultations de Nourissons" the infant mortality of Paris amounted to 178 per 1000, but at the consultation the rate was 46 per 1000. At Varengeville-sur-mer a consultation for nurslings was instituted under Dr Poupalt of Dieppe in 1904. During the seven previous years the infant mortality had averaged 145 per 1000. In1904-1905not one infant at the consultation died, though it was a summer of extreme heat, and in 1898 when similar heat had prevailed the infant mortality was 285 per 1000. The deaths of infants under one year in England and Wales, taken from the registrar-general's returns for 1907, amounted to 117.62 per 1000 births, an alarming sacrifice of life. France has been turning her attention to the establishment of infant consultations on the lines of Dr Budin's, and similar dispensaries under the designation "Gouttes de lait" have been widely established in that country; gratifying results in the fall in infant mortality have followed. At the Fecamp dispensary the mortality from diarrhoea has fallen to 2.8, while that in neighbouring towns is from 50 to 76 per moo (Sir A. Simpson). It has been left to private enterprise in England to deal with this problem. The St Pancras "School for Mothers" was xiv. 17 at 9 months, „ 12 „ sugar. Koplik has drawn out a table of the amounts to be given as follows: established in 1907 in north-west London. Though started by private persons it was in 1909 worked in connexion with the Health Department of the Borough Council, but was supported by charitable subscriptions and by a small contribution from the student mothers. There are classes for mothers on the care of their health during pregnancy, infant feeding, home nursing, cooking and needlework. Poor mothers unable to contribute get free dinners for three months previous to the birth of their child and for nine months after if the child is breast-fed. Two doctors are in attendance, and mothers are encouraged to bring their children fortnightly to be weighed, and receive advice. The average attendance is ninety. A baby is said to have "graduated" when it is a year old. An interesting development in connexion with the scheme is a class for fathers at which the medical officer of health for the district lectures on the duties of fatherhood. Similar schools for mothers are now established in Fulham and Stepney. Weighing centres have been established at Dundee, Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Bolton, Belfast, and Newcastle-on-Tyne. An infants' milk depot has been established at I insbury, and effort is being made to establish milk laboratories where separate nursing portions of sterile milk could be supplied to poor mothers. The WalkerGordon milk laboratories in the United States are a step in this direction.

The average length of a child at birth is 192 in. and during the first year the average increase is 7a in. A new-born infant is deaf (Koplik). This is supposed to be due to the blocking of the eustachian tubes with mucus. On the fourth day there is some evidence of hearing, and at the fifth week noises in the room disturb it. A healthy infant may be taken out of doors when a fortnight old in summer, after which it should have a daily outing, the eyes being protected from the direct rays of the sun. On the second day the eyes are sensitive to light, in the second month the infant notices colours, at the sixth month it knows its parents, and should be able to hold its head up. At the sixth month the baby begins to cut its temporary teeth. After their appearance they should be cleaned once a day by a piece of gauze moistened in boric acid solution. Attempts to stand are made about the tenth month, and walking begins about the fourteenth month. By this time the intelligence should be developed and memory is observed. A child a year old should be able to articulate a few small words. With the advent of walking and speech the period of infancy may be said to end.

See Pierre Budin, The Nursling (1907); Henry Koplik, Disease of Infancy and Childhood (1906); Eric Pritchard, The Physiological Feeding of Infants (1904); Eric Pritchard, Infant Education (1907); John Grimshaw, Your Child's Health (1908). (H. L. H.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to infancy article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





infancy (plural infancies)

  1. The earliest period of childhood (crawling rather than walking).
  2. The state of being an infant.
  3. An early stage in the development of, eg, some technology.
  4. (law) The state of being a minor.


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