Analysis of infant physical activity in the childcare environment: an observational study

Natasha Pocovi, Yeshe Colliver, Verity Pacey, Jenkin Liao, Emily O'Laco, Roberta B. Shepherd, Katharine Scrivener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study utilized behavior-mapping to describe behavior and levels of activity in infants attending Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). Descriptive statistics were used to determine proportion of time spent in certain locations, body positions, activities and engagement with others. To establish whether location, the presence of equipment or engagement with others influenced levels of activity, a paired t-test was used. Results indicated that of all locations, infants spent the greatest amount of time in the meals area (35%), with half of this period spent physically inactive (sedentary). The indoor play area was where infants were most active. Infants also spent a significantly greater proportion of their upright time (64%) supported by either furniture or equipment than without (MD 28, 95% CI 13–44, p < 0.01). Interestingly, infants displayed more sedentary behavior when engaged with others than when not engaged (MD 21, 95% CI 6–36, p < 0.01). The environment, presence of others and equipment availability appear to influence activity levels of infants in ECEC centers. Findings suggest that time spent in meal areas, provisions of furniture/equipment, and opportunities for infants to play independently warrant further exploration to determine their influence on activity levels in typically-developing infants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101338
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Early online date15 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • infants
  • physical activity
  • early learning
  • observation
  • movement
  • behavior mapping


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