Not just playing around: infants' behaviors with objects reflect ability, constraints, and object properties

Infant Behav Dev. 2014 Aug;37(3):334-51. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2014.05.003. Epub 2014 May 28.


This study describes infants' behaviors with objects in relation to age, body position, and object properties. Object behaviors were assessed longitudinally in 22 healthy infants supine, prone, and sitting from birth through 2 years. Results reveal: (1) infants learn to become intense and sophisticated explorers within the first 6 months of life; (2) young infants dynamically and rapidly shift among a variety of behavioral combinations to gather information; (3) behaviors on objects develop along different trajectories so that behavioral profiles vary across time; (4) object behaviors are generally similar in supine and sitting but diminished in prone; and (5) infants begin matching certain behaviors to object properties as newborns. These data demonstrate how infants learn to match their emerging behaviors with changing positional constraints and object affordances.

Keywords: Exploration; Infant; Object; Perceptual-motor development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Play and Playthings / psychology*
  • Posture