Physical and Environmental Factors Affecting Motor Development, Activity Level, and Body Composition of Infants in Child Care Centers

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1998


The purpose of this study was to determine if physical characteristics of child care centers are related to motor development, activity levels, and body composition of infants. Characteristics of 14 child care centers were determined including infant:caregiver ratio, level of interaction with caregivers, access to a gross motor room, space per infant, and use of seats, swings, and walkers. Infants' psychomotor development, physical activity levels, and body composition were measured longitudinally at six, nine, and 12 months of age in 48 infants enrolled in the centers. At six months, infant:caregiver ratio and level of interaction were the only characteristics associated with motor development, activity level, or body composition. By 12 months, the physical environment also became a predictor of body composition, with heavier and fatter babies enrolled in centers with less space and no access to a gross motor room. Space seems to be the most important physical characteristic of a child care center that is related to motor development and growth in older infants, whereas infant:caregiver ratio and level of interaction are more important in younger infants.

Publication Title

Pediatric Physical Therapy





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