Habituation and maternal encouragement of attention in infancy as predictors of toddler language, play, and representational competence.

C. S. Tamis-LeMonda, M. H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In a longitudinal study, infants' habituation and mothers' encouragement of attention were assessed at 5 months, and toddlers' language comprehension, language production, and pretense play and mothers' encouragement of attention were assessed at 13 months. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the unique contributions of infant habituation and maternal stimulation to toddlers' cognitive abilities. Habituation predicted language comprehension, pretense play, and a latent variable of language and play after the influences of both 5- and 13-month maternal encouragement of attention were partialed. Likewise, early maternal encouragement of attention explained unique variance in toddlers' language comprehension and the language-and-play latent variable after infant habituation was controlled. These findings indicate that links between early habituation and later cognitive development are direct and not solely mediated by maternal stimulation, and that maternal stimulation of young infants influences the development of children's representational competence over and above infants' own information-processing abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-751
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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