The dynamics of movement synchronization during feeding

Guiseppe Leonardi, David Lopez Perez, Joanna Raczaszek-Leonardi, Marijn Dijk, van

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


The process by which infants move from a feeding pattern based only on sucking (liquid feeding) to another, based on a more intentional synchronization with their caregivers, who spoon-feed them, is quite a dramatic transition (Van Dijk et al., 2012). This work presents some preliminary results from a study on the development of movement synchronization between mothers and their children, in the first few weeks after the introduction to solid food. In previous studies, we observed that in the first 6 weeks after the introduction to solid food, mother-infant dyads showed signs of increased co-regulation and synchronization of their respective feeding behaviors (e.g. offering food, accepting/refusing). Learning this new skill requires that infants, among other things, coordinate their position and movements with the complementary position and movements of the caregiver. The present study explores this complex transition by tracking the coupling of mother’s and infant’s movements during feeding sessions in the course of this critical period. Preliminary data from 5 mother-infant dyads were analyzed. In a first phase, movement trajectories of mother’s hand and infant’s face were obtained by applying an automatic movement detection algorithm (TLD, Kalal et al., 2012; for applications to mother-infant interactions see López Pérez et al., 2017). The time series so obtained were then cleaned from outliers, noise or tracking errors and subsequently categorized into a 5-category directions Cartesian scheme on a frame-by-frame basis. In a second phase, these categorical time series, appropriately mapped between each mother and her infant, were analyzed with cross-recurrence quantification analysis, a nonlinear time series method. For each dyad and for each session a diagonal-wise recurrence profile was extracted. The recurrence profiles indicate that coordination patterns change over time and that while at the beginning of the feeding transition the mother follows the infant’s movements with a small delay, in the following weeks a more consistent and stable pattern of synchronization emerges, although individual differences are also evident. The results are consistent with a theoretical view, according to which mothers enact actions around the baby’s natural moves and hence co-create meaningful patterns of interaction (Rączaszek-Leonardi et al., 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3-Jul-2019
EventInternational Conference on Perception and Action, Groningen - Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 3-Jul-20196-Jul-2019


ConferenceInternational Conference on Perception and Action, Groningen
Abbreviated titleICPA2019
Internet address

Cite this