Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Eliot , Lise (2000-10-03), What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, Bantam, Retrieved on 2011-07-18
Folksonomies: parenting babies development infants physiology

Memes

18 JUL 2011

 The Nurture View of Human Nature Spawned Social Programs

Spitz showed that early nurturing and stimulation are essential to child development, and he was not alone in this view. At the time, the field of psychology was dominated by the theory of "behaviorism," which proposed that all our actions, from the simplest smile to the most sophisticated chess move, are learned through reward and punishment, trial-and-error interactions with other people and objects in the world. Babies, according to this view. are born as "blank slates," without predisposi...
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Child welfare was probably inspired by the idea the nurture was the defining element in human development.

18 JUL 2011

 What Newborns Hear and Learn in the Womb

Another experiment, however, proves that babies really do imprint on auditory experiences while still in the womb. In this case, mothers were asked to read a particular story aloud, twice a day, during the last six weeks of pregnancy. The story was by Dr. Seuss again, this time The Cat in the Hat, and it was estimated that the babies spent a total of about five hours listening to it in the womb. Shortly after birth, they were tested to see whether they preferred listening to their mothers rea...
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The mother's voice, stories read to them, and sounds from their environment; with the exception of the father's voice, to which the infant grows habituated very soon after birth.

18 JUL 2011

 Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny

The similarity between different vertebrate embryos is indeed remarkable. Since the early 1800s, embryologists have been struck by the parallel between early development in various animal species and their evolutionary relationship, a resemblance conveniently abbreviated by the saying "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." Of course, each of us does not really pass through a "lizard" stage on our way to a fully developed human form. But it is true that animals who are more closely related in ter...
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Living things go through the forms of their ancestors, not specifically but generally, because it is easier for evolution to add a mutation to the end of a complex sequence of developments than to re-engineer earlier in the process.

19 JUL 2011

 Fetal Alcohol Syndrom

It is from a public health standpoint, rather than from knowledge of indipercent of pregnant wompr. i^ percent of pregnant women in the United States reported drinking alcohol in the month preceding the survey, and 3 percent admitted to at least one binge. (Alcohol consumption is notoriously underreported in this kind of survey.) Prenatal alcohol use is thought to be responsible for at least 4,000 cases of mental retardation in the United States each year and perhaps ten times that number of ...
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The effects of alcohol abuse on the developing child has lifelong impact on them as they grow older.

19 JUL 2011

 Effects of Smoking on the Fetus

Most women also realize that smoking is bad during pregnancy. Unfortunately, it can be a very hard habit to give up, even for the best-intentioned parent. Smoking is not as detrimental to fetal brain development as heavy alcohol drinking, but it acts on many other organ systems. like the heart and lungs, that compromise the baby's health in a lasting way. Babies born to heavy smokers are substantially smaller than babies born to nonsmokers, averaging about half a pound lighter. In fact, smoki...
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The evidence suggests that smoking has longterm cognitive effects on children due to compromised brain development in the womb.

19 JUL 2011

 Effects of Caffeine on the Developing Fetus

Caffeine crosses the placenta and may even concentrate in the fetal circulation. Concern about its effect on fetal development stems from animal studies, where it has been found to be teratogenic when fed to pregnant rats in high doses; a dose equivalent to 150 cups of strong coffee per day causes malformations in rodents such as missing limbs and digits. However, caffeine does not appear to be a teratogen in h humans. The average pregnant woman is estimated to consume 144 milligrams per day ...
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Moderate consumption of Caffeine appears to have no impact on a child's IQ; however, massive consumption causes deformities in rats.

19 JUL 2011

 Mother's Hormones Impact a Child's Propensity for Shyness

As we learn more about maternal hormones and their influence on the developing brain, scientists are beginning to propose actual biological mechanisms for the kind of folk prophecies that have been around for ages. One recent study, for instance, suggests that a child's shyness is determined, in part, by maternal hormone fluctuations during gestation. Researchers who interviewed several thousand preschoolers in both the United States and New Zealand noted a significant relationship between th...
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There appears to be a correlation between the amount of sunlight to which a mother is exposed mid-pregnancy and how shy her children are later on.

20 JUL 2011

 Health Benefits of a Vaginal Birth

Of its several advantages, "birtn stress" has been found to be especially beneficial for a newborn's breathing. Compared with babies born by C'Section, vaginally delivered babies are quicker to take their first breaths; their blood oxygen levels rise more rapidly after birth; and they are less likely to suffer any of a number of respiratory problems in the first few hours of life. Even among babies delivered by C-section, those who undergo several hours of labor before delivery do much better...
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The contractions and stress of being pushed through the birth canal give these babies a leg up in many physiological, and possibly cognitive, respects.

20 JUL 2011

 The Importance of Touch on Infants

Touch plays a very special role in the life of young babies. Because it is so well developed at birth, it provides these brand-new arrivals more detailed access to their fascinating new world than any other sense. Touch is obviously essential to babies' sensory-motor development, but it also has a surprisingly potent influence over their physical growth, emotional well-being, cognitive potential, and even their overall health, because of some fascinating effects on their immune function. [....
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There is a crucial period where an infant should be touched by its mother to reduce its stress level and the stress hormones that would otherwise damage its organs.

20 JUL 2011

 The Importance of Vestibular Stimulation in Infants

One study offers particularly provocative evidence of the benefits of vestibular stimulation. These researchers exposed babies, who ranged in age from three to thirteen months, to sixteen sessions of chair spinning: Four times a week for four weeks, the infants were seated on a researcher's lap and spun around ten times in a swivel chair, each spin followed by an abrupt stop. To maximize stimulation of each of the three semicircular canals, the spinning included one or two rotations in each d...
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Giving babies four "spin" sessions in a chair improved their reflexes and motor skills. Also, jiggling and rocking babies sorts out their discombobulation and allows them to focus and learn for a period of time.

20 JUL 2011

 Kangaroo Care and Infant Massage

In the old days, extensive parental contact was discouraged because of fears about injury or infection. Now, however, some hospitals are encouraging parents to spend up to several hours a day holding their preterm infants, preferably upright and skin-to-skin against their bare chest. This approach has been dubbed "kangaroo care" because of its resemblance to early-life marsupials, which are born prematurely but kept warm and nourished in the maternal pouch. Studies have shown several advant...
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A technique for helping a preterm infant to regulate their body heat and a daily exercise for stimulating the infant to improve its cognition and responsiveness.

20 JUL 2011

 The Importance of Smell and Taste in Infant Development

Olfactory recognition may also be the first step toward human bonding and attachment. As we've seen, newborns quickly learn and prefer the scent of their own mother or other caretaker. Nursing babies clearly have the richest olfactory experience, being bathed several times a day in the odors of their mother's milk and areolar secretions. Nonetheless, bottle-fed babies also can learn their parents' scents rather rapidly, depending on the amount and closeness of their contact. After the breast,...
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Smell allows an infant to label its world, identifying its mother, father, and siblings; while taste prepares it for the environment it will be born into and influence its preferences for foods within its culture.

21 JUL 2011

 Varying Breast Milk Flavoring

One reason why researchers have had such a hard time replicating the composition of breast milk is that it isn't a fixed commodity. No two women's milk is identical, nor is the composition of any one mother's milk constant at all times; it varies with the amount of time that has elapsed postpartum, gradually changing in composition to match the baby's changing nutritional needs. It also varies with time of day, with the thinnest milk (the lowest tat content) being produced early in the day an...
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By eating a variety of differently flavored foods, like garlic, mint, vanilla, etc, the infant is exposed to a variety of flavors of breast milk,

21 JUL 2011

 Hyperacuity and Obligatory Looking

Beginning about four months of age, the perception of detail takes another leap forward with the emergence of hyperacuity: the ability to discriminate features that are up to ten times finer than the size of the photoreceptors should theoretically permit. It is this ultrafine discrimination that allows us, for instance, to see a very slight glitch in an otherwise straight line. even though the size of the glitch is below our eyes' limit of resolution. It is not yet known how our brains perfor...
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Two visual phenomena in the developing infant. One is the ability to make out visual details for which the eye does not appear physically capable of registering and the other is a conflict between the visual cortex and the brain stem that gets the baby stuck staring at something.

21 JUL 2011

 Sound Localization

One trick our brains use to figure out the location of a sound is to compare the time it takes to reach each ear. For example, sound waves emanating from a wind chime located to your right will reach your right ear a few milliseconds earlier than they reach your left ear, and the brain uses this small timing difference to compute exactly how far to your right the chime is located. Researchers have capitalized on this timing difference to test sound localization, using a special experimental t...
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How the brain localizes the origin of a sound by calculating the difference in time between the soundwaves hitting one ear versus the other.

21 JUL 2011

 The Theory of Neuromuscular Maturation

Believe it or not, it is only relatively recently that scientists have begun to appreciate the importance of babies' earliest motor activity. In the first part of this century, most researchers championed the view that motor development is largely innate, or "hard-wired." Struck by the remarkable consistency of skill acquisition, they argued that motor development depends solely on a fixed process o{ neuromuscular maturation (as their theory came to be called). with little role for practice o...
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Exercising babies in neuromotor skills appears to have no effect on the development of those skills. The infants body will acquire those skills when they are sufficiently developed for them.

21 JUL 2011

 Practicing Motor Skills

In fact, babies do improve their motor skills much as adults do—as a result of diligent practice. New skills, such as walking independently, don't suddenly emerge out of nowhere but gradually build out of prior, simpler abilities—kicking, standing, and walking with support—after weeks or months of trying. The only difference between infant and adult motor learning (aside from the fact that infants seem to crave the exercise more than most of us) is that babies can train themselves in a ...
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By practicing a motor skill, adults and infants allow their brain to find the most efficient neurological pathways for performing the task.

21 JUL 2011

 Theories on Handedness

Because it develops so early, this brain asymmetry appears to be largely innate. It is possible, however, that environmental factors begin operating even before birth. One hypothesis is that the right hand becomes more skillfull because it has greater freedom to move in the womb. About three-quarters of all fetuses spend the last several weeks of gestation with their right arm facing out—toward the mother's abdominal wall. This arm has more space in which to move than does the left arm, whi...
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Three hypotheses for why right-handedness is the dominant trait in humans.

21 JUL 2011

 Practice Walking Helps Infants Walk Earlier

In fact, contrary to all of the early anecdotes claiming that practice has no effect on the onset of walking, one carefully controlled study has shown that special exercise can indeed accelerate it. In this study, a group of newborns were given just ten minutes per day of "practice walking." Every day between one and nine weeks of age, the baby would be held upright by a parent, with his feet on a table, and allowed to exercise his stepping reflex. Two additional groups of babies received, re...
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By having the parent hold the infant upright on a table to practice walk for just 10 minutes a day, they are able to accelerate the child's acquisition of this skill; however, infant walkers are found to be detrimental to this purpose for the lack of feedback they provide.

21 JUL 2011

 The Development of Memory in Infants

Memory is not a single entity but a patchwork of several different forms of information storage that emerge progressively with the maturation of different brain circuits. Babies begin life with a primitive yet very useful set of memory skills; lower parts of the brain can store information, but it is at an automatic level, beneath consciousness, and lasts for relatively short periods of time. Then, starting at eight or nine months of age, they show signs of a more flexible, deliberate type of...
Folksonomies: memory infant development
Folksonomies: memory infant development
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The first paragraph in this passage outlines the development milestones, while the second is included for its eloquence. Then select passages on habituation, classical and operant conditioning are included as types of memory.

24 JUL 2011

 Testosterone's Effect on Memory

Like many other areas of development, memory generally matures more rapidly in girls than boys. Beginning in the womb, female fetuses are known to habituate to auditory stimuli about two weeks earlier than males. After birth, they are more advanced at visual habituation. Toward the end of the first year, girls are about a month ahead in tests of short-term, explicit memory, like remembering, after a few seconds' distraction, where they just saw a toy being hidden. Girls also outperform boys o...
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Memory develops faster in females and testosterone appears to be the culprit.

24 JUL 2011

 The Word Explosion in Infants

Babies first bridge the gap between sounds and meaning as early as nine or ten months of age. They learn the names of family members and pets, the meaning of no! and perhaps a few general labels like shoe and cookie. By his first birthday, the average child understands around seventy words, mostly nouns like people's names and terms for objects, but also certain social expressions, like hi and bye-bye. Of course, he cannot say nearly that many. The median number of words spoken by a one-year-...
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When children learn about four-dozen words, they suddenly begin to learn many more at an accelerated pace.

24 JUL 2011

 The A not B Task

Emilie sits on her father's lap and excitedly stares at the shiny brass bell that the research assistant across the table is holding. Making sure Emilie is watching, the assistant places the bell into one of two matching wells in the table and then quickly covers both wells with identical cloths. Emilie is eager to grab the bell, as any eight-month-old would, but her father gently holds back her arms while the researcher distracts her with a funny face. After five seconds, Dad is signaled to ...
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A number of complex cognitive tasks must come into play and coordinate properly for a child to recognize that an object has been moved from one hiding place to another.

24 JUL 2011

 Mozart and Intelligence

One of the more startling findings about early enrichment is the effect of music. You can hardly pick up a newspaper without seeing some kind of reference to how Mozart makes people smarter. The governor of Georgia recently proposed spending $105,000 of state money to provide every newborn baby with a compact disc of classical music, citing its positive effects on brain development and spatial and mathematical skills. What is it about classical music that is so good for mental function, and a...
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Why we suspect playing Mozart for infants will make them more intelligent.

24 JUL 2011

 Being a Responsive and Involved Parent

Responsiveness is closely related to nurturing. For infants, responsive caregiving means not only prompt responding to a baby's physical needs interaction. Babies do cry out of boredom and their verbalizatinn—all that interaction. Babies do cry out of boredom, and their verbalization—all that enchanting cooing and babbling—is not just idle practice. They want and expect you to reply, to engage them in "protoconversation," and to light up their day with your interesting facial expression...
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Driving children around to classes is less important than engaging in intellectual discovery with them.

19 JUL 2011

 The Importance of Nutrition in the Developing Mind

In the case of a mother's more general nutritional status—her tota caloric intake—the brain is actually less sensitive during the first three to four months of gestation. In spite of its massive developmental changes, the fetus grows surprisingly little in size during this period, so its growth is not very dependent on the mother's diet. (This is probably no accident, since women are often unable to consume many calories because of first-trimester nausea.) Beginning around midway through ...
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There is a crucial period in fetal development where nutrition is of the utmost importance to the growing brain. If these nutritional needs are not met, then the baby's intelligence may suffer.

18 JUL 2011

 The Importance of "Motherese"

It just so happens that motherese is in many ways ideally suited to stimulate young babies' sense of hearing. Its unhurried cadence is easier for babies to follow, since as we've seen, their nervous systems process auditory information at least twice as slowly as adults. Its louder, more direct style helps babies distinguish it from background sounds and overcomes the fact that their hearing is much less sensitive than adults'. Its simpler words and highly intonated structure—with wide swin...
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Babies prefer it when mothers speak in a highly- intonated cadence with slow emphasis on syllables highly repeated. This preference may begin in the womb, when such sounds are the only parts of the mother's speech to reach the fetus.

21 JUL 2011

 Tummy-Time Improves Infant Motor Skills

The recent trend of putting young babies to sleep on their backs also appears to be having an effect on their motor skill acquisition. This posture, which has proven advantageous in reducing the number of SIDS fatalities, does not permit babies to exercise their arm and neck muscles as much as and see the world. In one recent study, pediatricians found that babies who slept on their backs were significantly slower to roll over, sit, crawl, and pull to stand than babies who slept on their stom...
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By forcing the infant to work their neck and back to look around while on their tummy, they strengthen these important muscles; however, the infant should still remain on their back while sleeping to prevent SIDS.

20 JUL 2011

 The Importance of Tactile Experience in Infants

Nonetheless, our early touch experiences determine the extent of possible tactile sensitivity. They also play a surprisingly potent role in the overall quality of brain development. We have already seen in Chapter 2 how rats raised in a highly enriched environment develop a thicker cerebral cortex and are actually cleverer than rats raised in a standard laboratory environment. A good share of this enriching experience involves tactile sensation. When young rats are provided with new toys, the...
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Rats provided with a variety of constantly changed toys to play with and those touched by their mothers have larger brains and are more cognitively prepared for the world.

24 JUL 2011

 Conservation Tasks and Reason

Piaget had his own way of assessing brain maturation during this period, using his now-famous "conservation" tasks, try this one out on your tour-to-eight-year-old: fill two identical short, squat glasses with equal volumes of water, and ask your child, "Do the two glasses contain the same amount of water, or does one have more?" Now, pour all the water from one of these 'lasses into a tall, narrow glass, and ask your child the same question. Four-year-olds almost invariably say that the ta...
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A four-year-old cannot grasp the concept of conservation of mass, but an eight-year-old has no problem with it.

24 JUL 2011

 How to Provide Language Enrichment to Children

First of all, language stimulation should begin very early: by just three years of age, children are already headed down vastly different paths of verbal achievement as a result of their cumulative experience with language. Ideally, language stimulation should begin at birth, since we know that newborns' brains are already attuned to human speech and immediately start learning the sounds of their mother tongue. In fact. Fowler's group found that babies who entered their program between six a...
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Begin stimulating the child early, provide as much quantity of language stimulation as possible, and pay attention to the quality of language, making it age-appropriate and clearly enunciated.

24 JUL 2011

 The Myth of the Educated Parent

Remarkably enough, the most obvious influence over children's language development turned out to be the mere amount of parents' talking; children whose parents addressed or responded to them more in early life had larger, faster-growing vocabularies and scored higher on IQ tests than children whose parents spoke fewer words to them overall. Parents who talk more inevitably expose their children to a greater variety of words and sentences, so a correlation also turned up between the diversity ...
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Controlling for socioeconomic status does show that children whose parents are higher on the education ladder will have better grammar; however, parenting style is a much better predictor of a child's improvement than income.

19 JUL 2011

 Exercise During Pregnancy

There are two main reasons for concern about exercising during pregnancy. One is that it may reduce the baby's oxygen supply, since exercise, like other sources of stress, reduces blood flow to the uterus. Another risk is overheating. As we have already seen, fetal development is highly sensitive to temperature, and elevations of more than 2^0 C (or above 1020F) can increase the risk of miscarriage and affect the formation of the brain and eyes. Despite these theoretical concerns, there is ...
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There are some concerns about the mother exercising during pregnancy, but the benefits appear to outweight the potential deleterious effects and have no apparent effect on the child's IQ.

21 JUL 2011

 Challenging Inhibited Behavior in Children

But with the right balance, parents can modify even the most difficult side of their children's temperaments. As an example, consider those 15 percent or so of toddlers who are very inhibited—kids like Andrew, whose right frontal lobe explodes with anxiety whenever he's confronted by new people or a new environment. While many of these children don't change, about 40 percent do lose their extreme timidity by kindergarten. Researchers have observed that these are the youngsters whose parents...
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It is important to encourage inhibited children to challenge their fears and adventure into the world.

24 JUL 2011

 The Perfect Parent

The perfect parent, if she (or he) existed, would devote herself full time to the care and teaching of her child. She would begin, even before conception, by shoring up her folic acid reserves and purging her body of any chemical remotely suspect. Once pregnant, she would never touch a drop of alcohol, pump her own gasoline, get less than eight hours sleep, or allow herself to be stressed in any way. She would have an ideal, unmedicated, and uncomplicated delivery, and breastfeed from the mom...
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An impossible ideal, but something to aspire too?

24 JUL 2011

 Training Memory in Preschool Children

Psychologists have tested memory performance in people all over the world and found that those who have completed at least a few years of formal education score higher than those from the same culture and economic status who did not attend school; and the more years completed, the better the performance. Where formal schooling especially helps is in learning memory strategies, deliberate tricks like verbal rehearsal, information clustering, and note-taking that children use to make it through...
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Schooling appears to be the most influential factor in training memory in children, but parents can do more by coaching children to remember things and build narratives as a tool for memory.

18 JUL 2011

 How Brains Grow Into Bodies

Brain wiring begins with the outgrowth of axons. Once a newborn neuron has migrated, planting its cell body in a permanent position, it sends out a fine axon shoot with an enlarged tip known as a growth cone. At the end of the growth cone are about a dozen long tentacles that shoot out in all directions and act like radar, picking up all manner of navigational signals. They feel out the best-textured surfaces, sniff around for chemical cues, and even use tiny electrical fields to help the axo...
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Best description yet of the synaptic "pruning" human brains go through as the brain wires up to the body and best reason yet for why children should have rich, mentally-nourishing environments in which to grow so that their synapses don't get unnecessarily pruned, resulting in smaller brains.

21 JUL 2011

 Motorskill Milestones in Infants

Typical Month of Onset Gross Motor Skill 1-2 Holds head erect and steady 2-3 Lifts head and chest with arm support on tummy  Sits with support  3-4 Rolls tummy to back  6-7 Rolls back to tummy  6-8 Sits alone  8-9 Pulls to stand  9 Crawls  9-10 Walks with handholds ("cruises")  11-12 Stands Alone 12-13 Walks alone Typical Month of Onset Fine Motor Skill birth Reflexive grasp 1-3 Pre-reaching (ineffective)  3 Voluntary grasp  4-5 Successful reach and grasp  6-7 Controlled reach ...
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Two charts of when to expect certain motor skill achievements in infants in the first year and some months.