The First 2 Years of Life: A Developmental Psychology Orientation to Child Development and Play

  • Kathleen TaitEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 18)


Recently considerable interest and research has focused on the content and the development of play in infants, toddlers and young children (Branscomb & Ethridge (2010) J Early Child Teach Educ 31(3):207–221; Jung (2013) Early Child Res Q 28:187–198). As one of the few areas that can be reliably and validly observed in children aged from birth to 2 years, collected data can provide evidence to guide and justify play assessment and intervention efforts. This chapter reviews forms of play that usually emerge within the first 2 years of life, collating the available empirical research on this topic in typical infants from a developmental psychological perspective. Consequently, it will not discuss later forms of play, such as games with rules or sociodramatic play, as these skills are known to develop in children older than 24 months. This chapter begins with a section that considers the empirical evidence relating to early solitary object exploration and functional play. The next section examines the social focus of play, investigating the various forms of adult-infant play; readers are also offered suggestions for research and practice on the basis of the material reviewed. It is hoped that the information contained in this chapter will inform early childhood educators and classroom assistants about the complexity of infant play skill development and infant-adult early play engagement. Early childhood teachers will find this information useful regarding expectations for infants engaged in early play.


Early Childhood Educator Play Behaviour Fine Motor Skill Early Childhood Teacher Play Skill 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.




Refers to the strong affectionate tie we have with special people in our lives that leads us to feel pleasure when we interact with them and to be comforted by their nearness in times of stress

Basic space concepts 

Include those of body size and the space required for movement of the body and its parts

Motor development 

Refers to both fine motor (use of fingers and hands) and gross motor (use of legs and arms) body movement

Perceptual-motor development 

Means interpreting and integrating movement with what is seen, felt, heard and smelled so that the child can respond appropriately to the demands of the world and can learn basic concepts relative to space and time

Spatial relationships 

Refer to such terms as: in, out, up, down, under, over, to, away, around, through, inside and outside. Essential temporal or time concepts include terms such as before, after, first, last, next, faster and slower


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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