Practice and proficiency: Factors that facilitate infant walking skill

Christina M. Hospodar, Justine E. Hoch, Do Kyeong Lee, Patrick E. Shrout, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infant walking skill improves with practice—crudely estimated by elapsed time since walk onset. However, despite the robust relation between elapsed time (months walking) and skill, practice is likely constrained and facilitated by infants’ home environments, sociodemographic influences, and spontaneous activity. Individual pathways are tremendously diverse in the timing of walk onset and the trajectory of improvement, and presumably, in the amount and type of practice. So, what factors affect the development of walking skill? We examined the role of months walking, walk onset age, spontaneous locomotor activity, body dimensions, and environmental factors on the development of walking skill in two sociodemographically distinct samples (ns = 38 and 44) of 13-, 15-, and 19-month-old infants. Months walking best predicted how well infants walked, but environmental factors and spontaneous activity explained additional variance in walking skill. Specifically, less crowded homes, a larger percentage of time in spontaneous walking, and a smaller percentage of short walking bouts predicted more mature walking. Walk onset age differed by sample but did not affect walking skill. Findings indicate that elapsed time since walk onset remains a robust predictor of walking skill, but environmental factors and spontaneous activity also contribute to infants’ practice, thereby affecting walking skill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22187
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • early experience
  • infant
  • locomotion
  • motor
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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