The onset of reaching significantly impacts how infants explore both objects and their bodies

Infant Behav Dev. 2013 Feb;36(1):14-24. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.09.003. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


The purpose of this study was to describe how reaching onset affects the way infants explore objects and their own bodies. We followed typically developing infants longitudinally from 2 through 5 months of age. At each visit we coded the behaviors infants performed with their hand when an object was attached to it versus when the hand was bare. We found increases in the performance of most exploratory behaviors after the emergence of reaching. These increases occurred both with objects and with bare hands. However, when interacting with objects, infants performed the same behaviors they performed on their bare hands but they performed them more often and in unique combinations. The results support the tenets that: (1) the development of object exploration begins in the first months of life as infants learn to selectively perform exploratory behaviors on their bodies and objects, (2) the onset of reaching is accompanied by significant increases in exploration of both objects and one's own body, (3) infants adapt their self-exploratory behaviors by amplifying their performance and combining them in unique ways to interact with objects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / physiology*
  • Infant Behavior / psychology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*