top of page

Chapter 5 : Piaget's parenting

What are some implications of Piaget’s theory for parenting your own baby? 

According to Piaget, a baby's development is the collaboration between the mind and body that adapt and learn from their environment in harmony (Santock, 2019). Infants learn by actively creating schemes, or organizations of knowledge, in order to comprehend the world around them (Santrock, 2019, p.140). These schemes can be refined and expanded through assimilation (existing schemes are employed to understand new information) and accommodation (existing schemes are adapted to account for new information) (Santrock, 2019, p.141).

Piaget's 6 sensorimotor stages span the first 2 years of life (Santrock, 2019). According to Piaget, each stage must be successfully completed before passing to the next stage. When it comes to parenting your own baby, one would need to choose age specific activities and toys for the child. As parents, you can recognize the relationship between child noises/actions to understand their motives.

For example, when the child is in its primary circular reaction substage (estimated from 4-8 months), the child's body will be the center of its attention, so hoping to engage it in playing with toys and people outside of itself for a sustained period of time will be a fruitless endeavor (Santrock, 2019, p.142). Similarly, when a child starts to "coo", or make a soft deep throat sounds to get attention, you can know as a parent that the child has become aware of your presence and can communicate their desire for you to remain nearby (Santrock, 2019, p.142). Similarly, if you are parenting a child in their tertiary circular reaction substage (12-18 months), their focus will be exploring the properties and affordances of the objects around themselves, so you will need to be especially careful which objects you leave in their paths, especially because they will be becoming more physically independent and mobile by the day (Santrock, 2019, p. 143).

I have memories of being younger and trying to engage with babies in my entourage. I wrote myself off as being bad with babies. The would not look at me, or play with me or with the toys I offered to them. Over time, I grew to sense which activities may be interesting to them. Through reading the textbook, I now see that I had simply been trying to interact with the babies in a way that would have been too advanced for their stage of development. The most common would try to interact was by trying to get the newborn or very young baby to make eye contact and play games with me visually before it most likely had developed clear sight (about 3-months old) and before it was wanting to engage with the world outside of itself (around 4 months) (Santrock, 2019).


Santrock, J. W. (2019). Lifespan development (17th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.


bottom of page