The development of gait and mobility: Form and function in infant locomotion

Christina M. Hospodar, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of locomotion can be described by its form (i.e., gait) and its function (i.e., mobility). Both aspects of locomotion improve with experience. Traditional treatises on infant locomotion focus on form by describing an orderly progression of postural and locomotor milestones en route to characteristic patterns of crawling and walking gait. We provide a traditional treatment of gait by describing developmental antecedents of and improvements in characteristic gait patterns, but we highlight important misconceptions inherent in the notion of “milestones”. Most critically, we argue that the prevailing focus on gait and milestones fails to capture the true essence of locomotion—functional mobility to engage with the world. Thus, we also describe the development of mobility, including the use of mobility aids for support and propulsion. We illustrate how infants find individual solutions for mobility and how the ability to move cascades into other domains of development. Finally, we show how an integration of gait and mobility provides insights into the psychological processes that make locomotion functional. This article is categorized under: Psychology > Motor Skill and Performance Psychology > Development and Aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • development
  • gait
  • locomotion
  • mobility
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Psychology


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