Caregivers structure the contexts in which infants develop and learn about their world. The naturalistic interactions of twenty caregiver-infant dyads in a laboratory setting were recorded and aspects of caregiver touch and speech were coded and examined for relationship. Analysis revealed a significant relationship between caregiver touch and topic of caregiver communication. Overall touch and number of simultaneous touch contact points varied by topic of conversation with adults much less likely to touch infants while speaking about an object in the immediate physical environment than when speaking about other topics. Location of touch did not vary by topic. These results suggest that haptic input is an embodied cue that could direct infant attention to the referent of adult speech and help to align input from multiple sensory modalities.
KEYWORDS: embodied cognition, haptic input, intersensory redundancy, lexical development, infant-caregiver system