Reflexes & Piaget’s Theory

By: Vivian Chan

Reflexes expected from child:

  • Eyeblink reflex – protects eye from overly bright lights and foreign objects that might damage it. 
  • Sucking reflex – baby sucks when something is put into its mouth
  • Moro reflex – making grasping motion with their arms in response to a loud noise or when suddenly experiencing a feeling of being dropped 
  • Babinski – baby’s toes are fanned out with foot is stroked
  • Crawling – arms and legs move while pressure is applied to the soles of the feet
  • Grasping – fingers closing around an object
  • Rooting – head turns w/ mouth open when touched on the cheek
  • Stepping – making rhythmic leg movements when held up on a flat surface

Piaget’s Theory

Piaget’s Theory explains an infant’s transition from reflexive behavior to their actions. Piaget believed that infants gain knowledge through interaction between the individual and environment. Skills that babies were born with such as: sucking, grasping, listening and looking, are used to learn more about their environment.

During the first substage (0-1.5 months), the baby uses reflexes such as looking and sucking to learn about its environment. From 1.5-4 months, babies find repetition of actions pleasurable to themselves. For example, they may suck their fingers and they would do it repetitively. By the time they reach 4-8 months, they will begin picking up toys and putting them into their mouths. At 8-12 months, babies start learning how to imitate the behavior of others and begin to recognize objects and what the object does. For example, they will act as happy as adults are when they play with them. From 12-18 months, babies make different noises to get the attention of their parents and caregivers. And lastly, when babies reach 18-24 months, they start to understand symbols an use them for problem solving.


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