Carry on: Spontaneous Object Carrying in 13-Month-Old Crawling and Walking Infants

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Abstract

Carrying objects requires coordination of manual action and locomotion. This study investigated spontaneous carrying in 24 walkers who were 13 months old and 26 crawlers who were13 months old during 1-hr, naturalistic observations in the infants' homes. Carrying was more common in walkers, but crawlers also carried objects. Typically, walkers carried objects in their hands, whereas crawlers multitasked by using their hands simultaneously for holding objects and supporting their bodies. Locomotor experience predicted frequency of carrying in both groups, suggesting that experienced crawlers and walkers perceive their increased abilities to handle objects while in motion. Despite additional biomechanical constraints imposed by holding an object, carrying may actually improve upright balance: Crawlers rarely fell while carrying an object, and walkers were more likely to fall without an object in hand than while carrying. Thus, without incurring an additional risk of falling, spontaneous carrying may provide infants with new avenues for combining locomotor and manual skills and for interacting with their environments.

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