- "Baby" redirects here. For the rapper/record executive, see Brian "Baby" Williams.
The word Infant derives from the Latin in-fans, meaning unable to speak. It is commonly used as a slightly more formal word for baby (the youngest category of child). A newborn infant is known as a neonate (neonatal) after the final stage of gestation.
Infant mortality is the death of infants in the first year of life. Infant mortality can be subdivided into neonatal death, referring to deaths in the first 27 days of life, and post-neonatal death, referring to deaths after 28 days of life. Major causes of infant mortality include congenital malformation, infection, and SIDS.
This epidemiological indicator is recognized as a very important measure of the level of healthcare in a country because it is directly linked with the health status of infants, children, and pregnant women as well as access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices.
Newborn infants are born with their skin coated with a white substance known as vernix caseosa, which is hypothesized to act as an antibacterial barrier. Newborns look physically different from prototypical older infants. They typically suffered minor trauma during birth resulting in a misshapen skull (compressed and pointed), puffy eyes, various discharges, blotchy and wrinkled skin. The Apgar score is a measure of a newborn's health.
Feeding is done by breastfeeding or with special industrial milk, "infant formula". As infants age, and their appetites grow, many parents choose from a variety of baby foods to feed the child. Infants have a sucking instinct allowing them to extract the milk from the nipples of the breasts or the nipple of the baby bottle. If the mother is unable to breast feed, or doesn't want to, infant formula is used in Western countries. In third world countries, a wet nurse is hired to feed the infant.
Breastfeeding provides infants with many natural immune substances and isolates the infant from most bacteria or other contaminations in the local water supply. Infant formula does not provide these immune substances and in places with poor quality water supply, subjects the infant to an increased risk of disease.
Infants are incontinent, therefore diapers are generally used in industrialized countries, while methods similar to elimination communication are common in third world countries. These techniques assert babies can control their their bodily functions at the age of six months and they are aware when they are urinating at even earlier age. Babies can learn to signal to the parents when it is time to urinate or defecate by turning or making some noises. Parents have to pay attention to the baby's action so they can learn the signals. Some facetiously say this is "parent training" instead of toilet training.
Babies cannot walk, although more mature infants may crawl; baby transport may be by perambulator (stroller or buggy) or on the back or in front of an adult in a special bag, cloth or cradle board. Infant cry as a form of basic instinctive communication to their parents when in need of feeding or when in discomfort.
As is the case with most other young children, infants are usually treated as special persons. Their social presence is different from that of adults, and they may be the focus of attention. Fees for transportation and entrance fees at locations such as amusement parks or museums are often waived.
The term infant is also used as formal term for minor; that is, a child in general.
Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:52:14
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13