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First Steps

24 Mehefin 2008

Researchers producing a major record of infant development are inviting mums-to-be to take part in their study.

Led by Dr Merideth Gattis of the School of Psychology, the First Steps project will study babies’ first steps and other developmental milestones from birth onwards.

First Steps Logo

Parents will be asked to share their children’s landmark moments with University researchers by completing a daily electronic diary and attending monthly breakfast meetings with Dr Gattis and her team.

The team will explore babies’ cognitive, physical, and social developments, recording moments such as when a baby first smiles, holds an object or when they first copy actions, sounds or facial expressions.

The aim of the project is to build a comprehensive catalogue of early human development. Over the course of the research, parents will be given toys and books for their baby, as well as monthly gift vouchers and will be presented with a ‘Memory Book’ containing their baby’s records at the end of the study.

Dr Merideth Gattis said: "Our study begins even before a baby is born so that we can teach expectant parents how to recognise and record behaviours that their baby performs right from birth. Parents know more about their baby than anyone else does and we’re asking them to share their expertise with us. By taking part in our studies, parents can contribute to our understanding of development, and create a keepsake memory of their baby at the same time."

Hannah Raybould is a first-time mum already taking part in First Steps: "The project is a chance to meet other new mums and a great opportunity to track my daughter’s development," said Hannah. "I think she will enjoy interacting with the other babies as they grow up together over the next year and a half."

Kate Beamish and her family

First Steps volunteer Kate Beamish pictured with her family

Kate Beamish, who recently had her fourth child, is also participating in the research: "I work as a Health Visitor and from a personal and professional point of view I thought the study sounded really interesting, said Kate. "My other children are now older (20, 17 and 11 years) so I felt I had some experience I could share and contribute to child development research in this way."

First Steps is funded by The Leverhulme Trust and is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and Ryerson University in Canada.

Parents interested in joining the project can contact: Dr Merideth Gattis and Dr Elena Sakkalou in the School of Psychology (tel: 02920 876190 or email: