What We Do

As parents you are fascinated by your children and here in the Infant and Child Research lab so are we!  As researchers we want to explore in detail how parents and children typically interact and to relate these interaction patterns to aspects of child development.  All you have to do is to enjoy playing with some novel toys with your child in our specially designed lab, which is a fun and safe place for your family to play and interact just as you would at home. 

We use observation techniques to record parents interacting with their children. Mothers and fathers (either alone or together) and their children will be recorded in the observation room of the lab, either engaged in structured activities (e.g., asked to play a specific game, engaged in a routine caretaking task like doing up some buttons) or in free play, just using whatever toys are available.  Additionally, parents will complete a set of questionnaires about themselves, their children, and their family. Children may also undergo direct assessment of their development, for instance, using standardised age appropriate tests of language ability, cognitive, and social-emotional development.

We want to find out what features of parent-child interaction are most important for infant and child development. In our research studies, we observe, record and study in detail how infants, children and their parents react and respond to each other when interacting, and how these patterns of interaction relate to aspects of child development. For example, we know that the way adults typically respond to babies’ babbling aids language development.  Even very young babies actively participate in, and initiate interaction with, their parents and other family members. Using video observation tools we study this behaviour in detail. This type of approach assumes that parents and children influence each other such that parents’ behaviours shape children’s behaviours which, in turn, has an effect on parents’ behaviours. We are particularly interested in investigating differences between mothers and fathers (if any), in how parents play with their children and in finding out more about how fathers interact with and respond to their children.