This study investigated factors related to the quality of early-childhood practitioners' interactions with infants in play and routine contexts. Participants were 24 practitioners working with 9-20-month-old infants in long day-care infant programmes. Video-recordings of their interactions with a nominated infant during play and in routine contexts were rated for levels of sensitivity and stimulation. Practitioners were asked to interpret extracts of this video footage and these interpretations were rated according to the complexity of the interpretive narrative. Results indicated relationships between practitioner qualification, their levels of interpretive complexity and the quality of their interactions. The quality of play interactions was significantly higher than that of routine interaction. The implications of these findings in relation to the provision of high-quality infant day-care programmes are discussed.