An integrative model of parent-infant communication development

Or Lipschits, Ronny Geva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Communication is commonly viewed as connecting people through conscious symbolic processes. Infants have an immature communication toolbox, raising the question of how they form a sense of connectedness. In this article, we propose a framework for infants' communication, emphasizing the subtle unconscious behaviors and autonomic contingent signals that convey drives, emotions, and a sense of connection, facilitating the formation of primal social bonds. Our developmental model emphasizes the importance of diverse modes of communication and their interplay in social interactions during infancy. The framework leverages three levels of communication—autonomic, behavioral, and symbolic—and their different maturational pathways. Initially, infants' social communication relies on autonomic responses and a dynamic behavioral repertoire, which evolve during the first year of life, supporting the emergence of symbolic communication. This extended communication framework highlights infants' role as proactive communicating agents and allows for tracing communicative developmental cascades back to their origins.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Development Perspectives
StateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Child Development Perspectives published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Research in Child Development.


  • autonomic system
  • communication
  • infancy


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