Intellectual development takes place as the child grows physically. She develops her motor skills and begins to interact with the environment. This interaction develops the mental capabilities of the child. As she grows older, there is a growth of understanding, memory, reasoning and language development of the child. This growth leads to changes in the behaviour of the child. These changes in behaviour represent the intellectual development of the child.
A newborn baby learns through his senses by touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing. Newborns prefers soft touches like gentle caressing or the feel of soft cotton. Soft touches communicate mother's love to the baby. Sense of taste is well developed. Foods to which the baby was exposed during pregnancy are the ones he prefers after birth. Baby's sense of hearing develops over the first year, and he will learn to track sounds. For the first 3 months, he will respond to a sound in front of him. By 6 to 12 months he will look towards a sound from behind or from any part of the room. Baby's sense of smell is well developed at birth, he prefers sweet smells and dislikes foul odours naturally. Sense of sight is not fully developed at birth. Baby is able to see about only 8 to 15 inches away, just enough to see mother's face when she feeds the baby. So naturally he loves looking at mother's face.
Crying is the first way of communication for babies. Babies cry out of hunger, pain, in response to a sudden noise or change of temperature while being undressed. The intensity of the cry may be high or low but the kind of sound made is almost same during the first two months. During the second or third month the sound of the cries change based on the need. The contexts that precede the baby's cry communicate what the baby is crying for. If the baby has not eaten for many hours the cry indicates he is hungry, if he had been awake for many hours then the cry means he is tired and a sharp piercing non-stop cry indicates he is in pain. After 3 months, it becomes easier for the mother to understand baby's communication because crying is replaced by specific actions like sucking of fingers when hungry and pulling and stiffening of legs when in pain.Baby communicates also through motor actions like kicking and using arms to reach for people and things they are interested in.
The beginning stage of language development in infants is babbling. Babbling includes many sounds including two-lip sounds. This occurs during 4 to 6 months. From 7 to 12 months, the sound of babbling changes and baby's first words appear [ mama, bye-bye ]. Between 1 and 2 years he adds more words to his vocabulary every month. By two years the infant's vocabulary consists of roughly 200 to 250 words. Language development of children occurs gradually through interaction with people and the environment. The most important time for language development and learning to talk is the first few years of life.Learning later is possible but it is slower and more difficult.
Video on Raising a Smart Kid
Nutrition, loving care and attention and stimulation play important roles in a child's intellectual development particularly during the infant and early childhood days. Proper nutrients are needed for normal growth and development of the brain from even before the baby is born.
You baby's interaction with her environment increases progressively as she grows older. Here's a typical timeline of interactions
The care-giver's stimulation and attention to the baby is extremely important during this phase. Stimulation can be in the form of talking to the baby, smiling at her and responding to her sounds. More stimulations include reading to your baby, singing to her, praising her and playing with her. If the care giver is not available to the baby, the tender brain of the baby is under stress and the child feels the environment to be dangerous. This can affect brain development.
Learning capacities are inborn in babies. They gain from experience immediately. Babies are capable of a few forms of learning.
A classical example of this is when a mother gently strokes the forehead of her baby whenever she feeds the baby breast milk. The baby has a reflexive response of sucking whenever this happens. Pretty soon, the baby will display the sucking motion, whenever her forehead is stroked.
This is the most common technique used by parents to teach their kids. In this form of learning, parents show their appreciation of a child's behaviour by giving her a food, a drink, a praise, a new toy or a friendly smile. These are called Reinforcers. Similarly an undesired behaviour can be decreased through punishment or depriving them of privileges. This is a widely applied principle in child rearing.
A child learns by focussing her attention on new objects in her environment. If a photo of a tree is displayed in the baby's room, the baby shows an interest in it for a time before losing interest in it. When the photo is changed to that of a woman, baby shows a renewed interest in the object. This represents baby's ability to remember the first visual and understand the second one as a new and different one. Newborn babies take a long time, about 3 to 4 minutes to lose interest in an existing visual and recover interest in a new one. But babies of 4 to 5 months age take only 5 to 10 seconds to differentiate between two different visual patterns. The novelty preference assesses the baby's recent memory. With progress of time, the novelty preference of babies change to familiarity preference, i.e. they are interested in looking at familiar faces, places or events. This shift in preference enables us to assess baby's distant memory i.e memory for stimuli they were exposed to in earlier weeks or months.
It is little more than an automatic response, much like a reflex. It can be seen in newborn babies but difficult to induce in babies of 2 to 3 months age. Newborns imitate many facial expressions and head movements of adults. They continue this imitation even after the adult has ceased to demonstrate the behaviour. Repeated gestures by an adult becomes a model for older infants to imitate.Imitation of infants improve largely over the first two years. Imitation reflects baby's need to communicate and to develop social relationship with their parents . It is also a powerful means of learning.