Exploring gender differences in infant motor development related to parent's promotion of play

Danae Dinkel, Kailey Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study explored how parents’ promotion of play may impact gender differences in motor development of six-nine month old infants. Twenty-nine infants between six-nine months of age and their primary caregivers took part in assessments of anthropometry, motor development, video observations of play and a qualitative interview. Results revealed females had significantly higher scores for fine motor skills and significantly higher incidence of touching toys in an individual play scenario compared to males. Males had a higher intensity level of play during both play scenarios. Qualitative explorations found that parents perceived other adults such as surrounding family and friends to promote gender differences but not themselves; however, parents’ verbal interactions with infants did appear to differ by gender. Parents of males more frequently made statements to promote gross motor skills while parents of females more frequently made statements to promote fine motor skills. While biological influences are suggested to play a role on gender differences of motor development early in life, environmental explanations related to socialization, gender-differentiated expectations and experiences amplify these differences to a greater degree than may have been previously considered during this time period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101440
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Gender
  • Infant
  • Motor development
  • Parent
  • Play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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