Infants’ behaviours elicit different verbal, nonverbal, and multimodal responses from caregivers during early play

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Caregivers use a range of verbal and nonverbal behaviours when responding to their infants. Previous studies have typically focused on the role of the caregiver in providing verbal responses, while communication is inherently multimodal (involving audio and visual information) and bidirectional (exchange of information between infant and caregiver). In this paper, we present a comprehensive study of caregivers’ verbal, nonverbal, and multimodal responses to 10-month-old infants’ vocalisations and gestures during free play. A new coding scheme was used to annotate 2036 infant vocalisations and gestures of which 87.1 % received a caregiver response. Most caregiver responses were verbal, but 39.7 % of all responses were multimodal. We also examined whether different infant behaviours elicited different responses from caregivers. Infant bimodal (i.e., vocal-gestural combination) behaviours elicited high rates of verbal responses and high rates of multimodal responses, while infant gestures elicited high rates of nonverbal responses. We also found that the types of verbal and nonverbal responses differed as a function of infant behaviour. The results indicate that infants influence the rates and types of responses they receive from caregivers. When examining caregiver-child interactions, analysing caregivers’ verbal responses alone undermines the multimodal richness and bidirectionality of early communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101828
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume71
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

Keywords

  • Caregiver-child interactions
  • Free play
  • Infancy
  • Multimodal language
  • Responsiveness
  • YOUth Cohort Study

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