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Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
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Infant Development: How Your Baby Grows and MaturesInfant Parenting: Keeping Your Baby Healthy and HappyInfant Safety: Keeping Your Baby SafeInfant Enrichment: Stimulating Your Baby
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Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Infancy Sexuality and Body Awareness Development

Angela Oswalt, MSW

Another major aspect of child development is sexual development. While many people believe that sexual development does not become an important issue until puberty and adolescence, children actually begin showing sexual behavior and interest in their sexual functioning from infancy. Babies are continually exploring their own bodies in order to learn about them. They want to understand what they look like and how parts work. This will include investigating their genitals or walking around naked. Because such behavior is a normal and natural development of their sexual, gender, and personal identity, caregivers should avoid chastising young children or labeling these kinds of exploratory actions as "bad" or "dirty." Instead, caregivers should set and enforce proper limits on such behavior, allowing toddlers and young children to explore themselves at home in private and discouraging them from doing these behaviors in public. Distracting children, and guiding them towards more socially appropriate behavior are good ways to get children to refocus without shaming them in the process.