Life Span: Development and Infancy (Birth to Age Three)
- Cathleen A. LewandowskiCathleen A. LewandowskiChair and Professor, Department of Social Work, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University
Infancy and young childhood are characterized by rapid cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Each year is marked by specific developmental tasks. Infants need positive parenting, a safe environment, and attention to their basic physical needs. A strong bond with caregivers is also necessary, as this lays the foundation for trust, allowing infants to explore their world. Many of the risk factors, such as prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, malnutrition, and abuse and neglect, can be remedied. Interventions such as home visiting, family leave, and nutrition programs are inexpensive and effective, and should receive more attention from social work.
Infancy and young childhood are the most crucial periods in a child's development. There is a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience that shapes early human development. Human relationships are the building blocks of healthy development, and children are active participants in their own development.