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Sensorimotor Stage

             From the time the baby is born to approximately the age of 2, the child is said to be in the sensorimotor stage of his or her development (Jean Piaget’s Stage Theories, n.d.).  During this stage, “the infant changes from a creature who responds primarily through reflexes to one who can organize activities in relations to the environment” (Papalia & Olds, 1981).  The child can begin to interact with the environment through trial and error and solve simple problems.  They are also able to differentiate between themselves and their surrounding environment.

            There are 6 substages under the sensorimotor stage; however, all of them contribute to achieve one goal.  The most important goal of this primary stage of life is to develop a schema of a permanent object (Boeree, 2006).  Whether it is by taste, touch, smell, sound or sight, the child must understand that they all contribute to one object, rather than multiple objects.  The child must realize that even if the object is taken away from their senses, the object still exists somewhere else.

Here is a summary of the 6 substages of the sensorimotor stage (Boeree, 2006):

#
Age (in months)
Name of Stage
Major event
1
Birth to 1 month
Reflex becomes adaptive allowing the baby to actively seek stimulation.
2
1-4 months
Primary circular reactions
The baby starts to reproduce actions that he or she has encountered by chance.  The baby starts to coordinate the senses. 
3
4-8 months
Secondary circular reactions
Intentional actions by the baby call for a response i.e. a parent’s attention
4
8-12 months
Coordination of secondary schemata and their application to new situations
The infant can now use the newly learned actions and responses to solve simple problems.
5
12-18 months
Tertiary circular reactions
The baby discovers new means through active experimentation (trial and error)
6
18-24 months
The invention of new means through mental combinations
The baby can now picture events and objects in their head without it in front of them and ultimately think.
Use of Reflexes

Following the sensorimotor stage is the Preoperational stage