infancy, infant development
Derived from the Latin word infans, meaning ‘unable to speak’, infancy is the earliest period in the human life-span, usually taken to extend from birth through to the end of the first year. In demography, for example, infant mortality rates measure the deaths during the first year following birth. Similarly in psychology, infancy commonly refers to the first year of life, although the term is sometimes used more loosely to cover the first two or three years of life. In law, infancy as a legal status is typically more extensive, as the young child is usually deemed legally incapable of speaking long after language skills have developed.
Apart from their interest in infant mortality rates, sociologists rarely give much attention to infancy and usually do not treat it as a distinctive period in the life-cycle , subsuming it within the period of childhood . However, there is some sociological interest in psychological research on infant and child development, particularly because of its relevance to controversies about the relative importance of nature and nurture in explaining human behaviour.
Psychologists commonly regard the period of infancy as crucial to individual development and hence to adult behaviour. Sigmund Freud , emphasizing both innate tendencies and social and psychological experience, viewed the first five years of life as determining the individual's subsequent personality and emotional development, and regarded the experiences of the first year as essential to satisfactory ego development-ideas developed more fully by psychoanalytic theorists such as Melanie Klein . Other writers have focused on cognitive development. Jean Piaget's specification of stages of cognitive development, based on his detailed observations, has been especially influential. Recent research on infancy increasingly suggests that infants have considerable cognitive capacities-capacities which selectively regulate their experiences of the environment . See also nature versus nurture debate.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • infancy — in·fan·cy / in fən sē/ n pl cies 1: the legal status of an infant: minority 2: the affirmative defense of lacking legal capacity (as to make a contract or commit a crime) because of being too young and esp. because one s age is below an age set… …   Law dictionary

  • Infancy — In fan*cy, n. [L. infantia: cf. F. enfance. See {Infant}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The state or period of being an infant; the first part of life; early childhood. [1913 Webster] The babe yet lies in smiling infancy. Milton. [1913 Webster] Their love… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • infancy — infancy, minority, nonage denote the state or period of being under the age established by law for the attainment of one s full civil rights and independence of guardianship. Infancy is seldom used in this denotation outside of legal documents… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • infancy — (n.) late 14c., from Anglo Fr. enfaunce and directly from L. infantia early childhood, lit. inability to speak, from infantem (see INFANT (Cf. infant)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • infancy — ► NOUN 1) the state or period of early childhood or babyhood. 2) the early stage in the development or growth of something …   English terms dictionary

  • infancy — [in′fən sē] n. pl. infancies [LME < L infantia] 1. the state or period of being an infant; babyhood; very early childhood 2. the beginning or earliest stage of anything 3. Law the state or period of being a minor; period before the age of… …   English World dictionary

  • infancy — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ early ▪ The vaccination is given in early infancy. VERB + INFANCY ▪ survive, survive beyond ▪ Their first child did not survive infancy …   Collocations dictionary

  • infancy — /in feuhn see/, n., pl. infancies. 1. the state or period of being an infant; very early childhood, usually the period before being able to walk; babyhood. 2. the corresponding period in the existence of anything; very early stage: Space science… …   Universalium

  • infancy — [[t]ɪ̱nfənsi[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT: usu poss N, prep N Infancy is the period of your life when you are a very young child. ...minute details of Deborah s infancy. ...the development of the mind from infancy onwards. 2) N UNCOUNT: usu in poss N If… …   English dictionary

  • infancy — n. first stage in one s infancy (the industry was still in its infancy) * * * [ ɪnfənsɪ] [ first stage ] in one s infancy (the industry was still in its infancy) …   Combinatory dictionary

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