The Development of Walking Among Infants

Topic: Pediatrics
Words: 1363 Pages: 5


The study by Adolph et al. (2012) focuses on the development of walking among infants. The experiment results were found among children from 12 to 19 months old. According to the investigation, an infant makes on average 2.368 steps per hour and falls 17 times. There is a correlation between the results of walking, the convenience of this process for the infant, and the progress in locomotor functions. The walking onset makes this process more accessible, and natural locomotor functions improve significantly during the short period because children make more steps daily, fall less, and can explore more places, which engages them (Adolph et al., 2012). It is essential to practice walking regularly to develop good motor coordination, which is a critical part of infant development.


The study’s hypothesis supposes a direct connection between natural locomotion and periodic gait among infants. In other words, those children who walk more spontaneously compared to other infants usually fall less. The methods used to test the hypothesis were connected with the analysis of the spontaneous activity of 151 children (79 boys, 72 girls) who reside in New York City. The investigation lasted from 15 to 60 minutes of watching their spontaneous activity. The authors observed 116 walkers and 20 crawlers in the same room filled with different toys and furniture, making their backgrounds similar (Adolph et al., 2012). The experiment allowed the researchers to compare children from the same age group in an everyday context, determining the objectivity of the conclusions. Minor differences between the participants, including their gender, level of locomotor activity, and the distance they usually walk daily according to their parents’ reports, were organized. This division analyzed the performance of different groups more precisely and in detail, providing the researchers with a more thorough understanding of the topic.


According to the investigation results, the functional skills of walkers and 12-month-old crawlers differed. The data supported the hypothesis that those infants who only started to walk fell more times during the hour of observation. The unexpected result was the prevalence of falls in the group of expert crawlers, as the authors define them. The estimates showed that snails had less locomotor activity than walkers, whose level of motion was significantly higher (Adolph et al., 2012). Moreover, the distances increased among walkers, regardless of the number of falls in this group.

The peculiar detail was that when the authors reconsidered the activity level among walkers and crawlers and combined the number of falls during the same activity period instead of one hour, the difference was minimized. In other words, crawlers and walkers fell equal times when they passed the same distance. The difference was in the time crawlers and walkers had to spend traveling from one side of the room to another (Adolph et al., 2012). The chance of the measurement context makes the experiment results more objective in this case because it represents the absolute number of falls per the number of steps the infant takes.

The study results show that those children who show better locomotor skills while playing on the gait carpet also show good results during free play. It is possible to measure these results using the functional and standard questionnaires that include the distance the infant travels during the hour, the number of steps they take per hour, and the available activity time. The child who makes more steps spends more hours walking, which is the essential correlation for the research (Adolph et al., 2012). This situation shows a biased conclusion: from one point of view, those infants who walked more and traveled longer distances had more opportunities to fall. Though from another point of view, they also practiced walking much, their locomotor skills were better compared to other children, and they fell less because of their experience.

Another vital detail is the difference in the gait during the play on the gait carpet and the natural walking during the free play. The researchers emphasize that it is more complicated for infants to walk without help during free play because they lack coordination and erratic movements. Both novice and experienced walkers played in different places of the room with the points of the child’s attraction, including the wooden stairs, the carpeted stairs, the catwalk, the pedestal, and the slide. Though, experienced walkers were more autonomous and returned to these places at least once more to explore them in more detail (Adolph et al., 2012). Insecurity in the movements of the novice walkers restricted their opportunities for traveling from one corner of the room to another, and they did not try to travel long distances.

The authors of the article come to the following results in the study:

“This corpus of natural locomotion indicates that infants accumulate massive amounts of time-distributed, variable practice. Over days of walking, they take more steps, travel farther distances, and fall less. And they may be motivated to walk in the first place because walking takes them farther faster than crawling without increasing the risk of falling. Traditional studies of infant locomotion during periodic gait could not have revealed these findings” (Adolph et al., 2012, p. 1393).

These lines show a need to develop an alternative method of studying the locomotion of children to achieve better results in teaching crawlers and walkers, which foregrounds the necessity for further investigation.

Opinion on Whether the Benefits Outweigh the Risks

The benefits of walking outweigh the risks because the development of the locomotor skills of the infant is an essential step in a child’s development. It is connected with the healthy development of the child’s body, psyche, and mind because cognitive functions are also used in learning new things (Adolph et al., 2012). Walking is a time-consuming and challenging process for infants, but it is a natural step in their development. They start walking longer distances, exploring new places, and developing their coordination.

The study shows that the level of activity among crawlers is significantly lower than among novice walkers, which means that walking is an opportunity for new explorations for the child. The increased number of falls among walkers is a normal thing because their level of activity also increases compared to the previous years (Adolph et al., 2012). In other words, the investigation shows that walking is not connected with the increased possibility of falling. Instead, the number of falls is the same as it used to be while crawling, but the distances infants travel increased significantly. It shows that parents should not be afraid of novice walkers’ falls and help them develop their locomotor skills.

Opinion on the Research

I would have experimented in the same way if I were a research assistant at a pediatric office and were asked to analyze a study on child development. The division of children into two major groups, including crawlers and walkers, is rationally justified. Moreover, the analysis of the number of steps the child takes, the distance they travel, both walking and crawling, and the number of falls is essential for the researchers to evaluate the results they receive. These variables reflect the main aspects in the subsequent analysis of the topic. It chooses the categories the authors of the study describe optimal for analyzing the theme from different points of view.


The development of locomotor skills is a critical part of child growth. As a result, it is vital to investigate the details of acquiring new skills in this sphere. The fact that the topic influences the effectiveness of educating children and finding the optimal ways to develop their locomotor functions allows assuming that it is ethically foregrounded. The researchers do not conduct immoral experiments on children and do not endanger their lives and health. It is the main issue in the ethical design of the study, and the description shows that the actions required for the analysis do not inflict harm on children. Therefore, there is no need to change the study’s design or elaborate on different methods to analyze locomotion among toddlers. These details show that the discussed study by Adolph et al. (2012) corresponds to the ethical principles of conducting research and analyzing the topic connected with a child’s development.


Adolph, K. E., Cole, W. G., Komati, M., Garciaguirre, J. S., Badaly, D., Lingeman, J. M., Chan G. L. Y., Sotsky, R. B. (2012). How do you learn to walk? Thousands of steps and dozens of falls per day. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1387-1394. .

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