Learning to walk changes infants' social interactions

Infant Behav Dev. 2011 Feb;34(1):15-25. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2010.04.008. Epub 2010 May 15.


The onset of crawling marks a motor, cognitive and social milestone. The present study investigated whether independent walking marks a second milestone for social behaviors. In Experiment 1, the social and exploratory behaviors of crawling infants were observed while crawling and in a baby-walker, resulting in no differences based on posture. In Experiment 2, the social behaviors of independently walking infants were compared to age-matched crawling infants in a baby-walker. Independently walking infants spent significantly more time interacting with the toys and with their mothers, and also made more vocalizations and more directed gestures compared to infants in the walker. Experiment 3 tracked infants' social behaviors longitudinally across the transition from crawling and walking. Even when controlled for age, the transition to independent walking marked increased interaction time with mothers, as well as more sophisticated interactions, including directing mothers' attention to particular objects. The results suggest a developmental progression linking social interactions with milestones in locomotor development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / physiology*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings
  • Posture / physiology
  • Speech
  • Walking / psychology*