Motor and Physical Development: Locomotion

Karen E. Adolph, Jaya Rachwani, Justine E. Hoch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Locomotion is a landmark developmental achievement. Independent mobility-whether by walking, crawling, cruising, or bum shuffling-offers new opportunities for learning about the environment, the self, and the relations between them (Gibson, 1988). Before they achieve mobility, infants are dependent on their caregivers to gain access to new vistas and places. Without transportation by their caregivers, infants’ view of the world is limited to the scenes revealed by turning the eyes and head. Exploration of objects and surfaces is restricted to things within arms’ reach. After they achieve mobility, infants are less dependent on their caregivers for making contact with the environment. They can change their vantage point to peer over the top of the coffee table or to explore beneath it. They can retrieve objects and transport them from place to place. They can choose to move away from their caregivers or to follow after them. The onset of independent mobility marks a change in caregivers as well. Caregivers of mobile infants are more likely to express anger toward their infants, make demands of their infants, and prohibit infants’ inappropriate actions (Biringen et al., 1995).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780128165119
ISBN (Print)9780128165126
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Contemporary approaches
  • Crawling
  • Independent mobility
  • Locomotor development
  • Posture
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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