The Amazing Process Of Human Development
By Dell Hill
A recent Facebook post depicting a newborn human baby caused me to do a mental re-evaluation of my thoughts concerning the much-debated subject of “when life begins”. I’m not going to preach my opinion here, but I do have a couple of points that I’ve come to realize that perhaps should be included in your thinking on the topic.
I was in my 50’s before I realized that babies aren’t born with bony knee-caps. I just naturally figured that babies are pretty much like adults and surely they must have knee-caps. After all, they have two eyes, two ears, a nose, etc., just like humans; so they must have knee-caps too.
I’m not exactly sure what prompted my research, but I looked in to the question - more to prove my belief that babies have knee-caps than to prove otherwise. That’s when I realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought.
“While adults normally have 206 bones, babies start out with a skeletal mix of about 300 different bones and cartilage elements. Various adult bones, such as the cranium, start off in life as several different fragments. At birth, the cranium has three unfused plates, allowing for passage of the baby's head through the birth canal. Over time, these plates fuse into one piece.
All bones start off as cartilage, but many are still cartilage at the time of birth. Cartilage turns into bone over time through a process called ossification. As cartilage develops, a nutrient artery grows into it. This in turn prompts cells called osteoblasts to develop along the lining of the cartilage. These osteoblasts in the cartilage begin producing compact bone, which covers the cartilage. Next, blood vessels begin to spread throughout the cartilage, branching off the nutrient artery and enabling marrow and other nutrients to be dispersed throughout the developing bone. When this occurs, it prompts the development of a primary ossification center, which will continue producing cells that dissolve the cartilage and replace it with new bone.
The patella is a sesamoid bone. That means that it's a bone that exists in the middle of a tendon, as we discussed earlier. The patella is the largest sesamoid bone in your body.
As such, it takes a little longer than some bones to, well, become bone.
Although it doesn't show up on X-rays, your baby does in fact have kneecaps. They're just not bony kneecaps. At birth, these kneecaps are still cartilage, and remain so for a few years.”
Well! Thanks to the folks at Discovery Fit & Health, I guess that takes care of babies and knee-caps. I learn something new every day.
That wasn’t the only thing I researched about babies. I started to develop my own personal theory that birth was simply a level of development in the life of a human being, similar to physical growth, puberty, aging, the stages of reproductive organs, the degenerative aspects of growing older, and finally death.
Some of those stages of development are critical, and certainly birth is one of those critical moments. A human being has been developing for about nine months gestation period and has relied upon its mother for sustenance that entire time. Breathing, for instance, wasn’t necessary because the child’s lungs aren’t anywhere near fully developed and there’s no air to breath anyway! Mom takes care of that, too, providing oxygen for the babies brain, which in turn allows the entire collection of vital organs to develop properly. And they will....over time.
A baby doesn’t have teeth. There’s no need for them. The child’s mother “eats for two” and nourishes her child automatically.
What about the other senses? For that we turn to Kids Health.org.
Taste and smell are the two most closely related of the senses. Research shows that new babies prefer sweet tastes from birth and will choose to suck on bottles of sweetened water but will turn away or cry if given something bitter or sour to taste. Likewise, newborns will turn toward smells they prefer and turn away from unpleasant odors.
Though sweetness is preferred, taste preferences will continue to develop during the first year of life. For now, breast milk or formula will satisfy your newborn completely!
As it is to most humans, touch is extremely important to a newborn. Through touch, babies learn a lot about surroundings. At first, your baby is looking only for comfort. Having come from a warm and enveloping fluid before birth, babies are faced with feeling cold for the first time, brushing up against the hardness of the crib, or feeling the stiff edge of a seam inside clothes.
Babies look to parents to provide the soft touches: silky blankets, comforting hugs, and loving caresses. With almost every touch a newborn is learning about life, so provide lots of tender kisses and your infant will find the world is a soothing place to be.
Most newborns have a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital (most states require this). If your baby didn't have it, or was born at home or a birthing center, it's important to have a hearing screening within the first month of life. Most kids born with a hearing loss can be diagnosed through a hearing screening.
Genetics, infections, trauma, and damaging noise levels may result in a hearing problem so it's important to have kids' hearing evaluated regularly as they get older. Even if your child passed the newborn hearing screen, talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your baby’s hearing.
Your newborn has been hearing sounds since way back in the womb. Mother's heartbeat, the gurgles of her digestive system, and even the external sounds of her voice and the voices of other family members were part of a baby's world before birth.
Once your baby is born, the sounds of the outside world come in loud and clear. Your baby may startle at the unexpected bark of a dog nearby or seem soothed by the gentle whirring of the clothes dryer or the hum of the vacuum cleaner.
Try to pay attention to how your newborn responds to your voice. Human voices, especially Mom's and Dad's, are a baby's favorite "music." Your infant already knows that this is where food, warmth, and touch come from. If your infant is crying in the bassinet, see how quickly your approaching voice quiets him or her down. See how closely your baby listens when you are talking in loving tones.
Your infant may not yet coordinate looking and listening, but even while staring into the distance, your little one is probably paying close attention to your voice when you speak.
Your newborn can see best at a distance of only 8 to 12 inches, and focus when gazing up from the arms of mom or dad. Your newborn can see things farther away, but it is harder to focus on distant objects. Newborns are very sensitive to bright light and are more likely to open their eyes in low light.
After human faces, bright colors, contrasting patterns, and movement are the things a newborn likes to look at best. Black-and-white pictures or toys will attract and keep your baby's interest far longer than objects or pictures with lots of similar colors. Even a crude line drawing of two eyes, a nose, and a mouth may keep your infant's attention if held close within range.
Your baby, when quiet and alert, should be able to follow the slow movement of your face or an interesting object.
Although your baby's sight is functioning, it still needs some fine tuning, especially when it comes to focusing far off. Your baby's eyes may even seem to cross or diverge (go "wall-eyed") briefly. This is normal, and your newborn's eye muscles will strengthen and mature during the next few months.
Give your infant lots of interesting sights to look at. Introduce new objects to keep your baby’s interest, but don't overdo it. And don't forget to move your infant around a bit during the day to provide a needed change of scenery.
In every single instance there’s one common thread - time and development. Just as it takes knee-caps time to transform from cartilage to bone, it also take time for all of the babies body to fully develop...and it’s NOT fully developed until it’s capable of reproduction, if then.
I’m quite certain that most of you are aware of the medical facts that I’ve pointed out here. Experience in child rearing alone is a great teacher. That, combined with a little research, and we all have a much better understanding of human development.
Now, when do you think that process begins?