Sensorimotor Stage – The Theory That Makes An Infant Adaptive to The New World

Sensorimotor Stage of infant's cognitive development

Sensorimotor stage- It helps Infants Master Their Own Behaviour and Reflexes

There are senses like smell, see, hear, taste and touch combined with some physical abilities that come by birth to a baby helping them confront the new world. With the new chapter in the life of an infant; new capabilities like awareness and observation start shaping up. Well, there are myriad theories about the stages of development in a child. One such unique theory created by Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist is a sensorimotor stage which is a primary phase in an early childhood that determines an infant going through an astonishing amount of cognitive growth.

An Overview

Piaget has documented various stages to observe the cognitive growth in a child and to prove that the baby when born creates their own understanding of the world. Out of the four stages sensorimotor stage is the first and begins with the birth of the child and lasts approximately till the age of 2. This crucial phase describes various aspects of mental development in a baby including motor skills, actions, memorizing, responses and more.

Why it is called sensorimotor stage?

During this phase, a child discovers their own ability, responses, relationships, feelings but all with the help of their sensory abilities to see, suck, learn, react, cry, perceive and more. As per Piaget, an infant uses their senses and reflexes to deal with adaptations and modifications; thereby giving the name sensorimotor.

What happens during the sensorimotor stage?

Sensorimotor Stage
Source: MomJunction

There is not one but a great deal of learning at this stage. Infact this learning acts as subsequent stages to provide the foundation of growth. Let’s connect the various sub-stages.

  • Absorbing information- It all starts with using their senses like touching, listening and seeing to organize the thoughts.
  • Separating the self- As they begin to feel and manipulate, they get to recognize the new environment.
  • Movement- They become aware that the objects can be placed, lifted and displaced.
  • Trial-and-error- Using the senses, infant start recalling their experiences and trying different activities to check the results. For example they would shake a rattle constantly to be sure of the sound it produces.
  • Existence of an object- One of the major milestones, also called object permanence, this is discovered at the later part of this stage. If a toy is hidden, the baby actively searches for it. Whereas young infants will forget about the toy if removed from the sight. So, the idea that the object exists is called object permanence.
  • Directed groping- As the baby cannot speak, he/she starts taking initiatives like crushing, hiding or pushing toys or objects under the bed and pulling back. They keep experimenting with the new techniques to see how results vary. Tilting, pulling and handling the objects in various ways are few of the actions performed during this stage.

Various stages in a child’s life occur as building blocks and each piece leads to the next and is like a constructive and consecutive step towards the valuable development of the child. In a nutshell, the sensorimotor stage offers a great deal of learning to the little munchkins.

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