Longitudinal observations of infants' object play behavior in the home context

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This study investigated changes in the quality and level of exploratory object play during the transition from infancy to toddlerhood. Sixty "typically developing" infants participated in a longitudinal study that included home visits at 10, 12, and 14 months of age. Play was assessed using the Infants' Play Behaviors with Objects during Semi-structured Tasks (POST) procedure, a 5-minute videotaped procedure that exposes infants to novel objects. Results indicated that higher levels of task-directed behavior were strongly associated with more sophisticated levels of object play. Task-directed play behavior increased significantly with age (F = 8.45, p < .001), as did level of play (e.g., F = 26.69, p < .001). Significant differences in the level of play behavior with different objects suggest that infants as young as 10 months show preferences in the play experiences that they find interesting, engaging, and challenging. These findings have relevance for occupational therapists because they demonstrate the transactional nature of play and the need for facilitating an optimal fit between the child, the environment, and the occupation of play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalOTJR Occupation, Participation and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Assessment
  • Infancy
  • Play behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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