Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 321-321

Cephalocaudal Principle

  • Edalmarys SantosAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, SIU School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Chad A. NoggleAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, SIU School of Medicine

Definition

The cephalocaudal principle refers to the general pattern of physical and motoric development followed from infancy into toddlerhood and even early childhood whereby development follows a head-to-toe progression.

Description

Cephalocaudal means head to toe. As such, the cephalocaudal principle refers to the general pattern of development seen in the earliest years of postnatal development specifically ranging from infancy into toddlerhood. The cephalocaudal principle applies to both physical and functional development. Regarding the prior (i.e., physical development), physical growth in size, weight, and feature differentiation follows this pattern of development [1]. The result of this is best seen in a comparison of the physical features of an infant compared to a toddler. In the case of the latter, the head is generally disproportionately large in comparison to the rest of the body. By the end of the preschool years most children have lost this top heav ...

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