"Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience. Infants learn in a variety of ways. In fact, infants begin learning even before they are born. However, learning is usually partial during infancy as opposed to any other stage; this is because the brain and nervous system are not completely developed. The sensory organs have not yet reached their peak functional capacity, therefore affecting the infant's perceptual ability. Although infants" have many limitations that effect their ability to learn, much learning does indeed take place (Snow & McGaha, 2003, p.158). The various ways an infant can learn include conditioned responses, imitation, learning through play, sensorimotor play, pretend or symbolic play, and scaffolding.
The first way in which infants can learn is by a conditioned response. A conditioned response makes something, most likely a behavior, happen based on the response that is given to the infant. Conditioned responses are further broken down into two categories: classical and operant conditioning. According to Snow and McGaha (2003) classical conditioning is when "an infant learns to transfer the response to a different stimulus than the one that initially elicits the response" (p. 159). Classical conditioning is based upon the belief "that when two different stimuli appear close together, the response to one of them will be transferred to the other" (Snow & McGaha, 2003, p.158). On the other hand, operant conditioning is the changing or repeating of a behavior based on a response. Another way infants learn is through imitation. Imitation is simply repeating others" actions. In addition, infants learn through all kinds of play including sensorimotor and pretend play. Sensorimotor play provides sensory pleasure as it is focused on body movements while pretend play involves the imagination of real-world objects and experiences (Snow & McGaha, 2003, p.