• joint attention;
  • language development;
  • mother-child interaction

Current research suggests that the extent to which child-caregiver dyads engage in interactions involving episodes of joint or coordinated attention can have a significant impact on early lexical acquisition. In this regard it has been recognized that individual differences in early developing child communication skills, such as capacity to follow gaze and early infant language, may contribute to these child-caregiver interactional patterns, as well as to subsequent language development. To address this expectation, 21 infant-parent dyads were recruited for participation in a longitudinal study. Early infant language, responding to joint attention skill, and cognitive development were assessed at 12 months of age. Child-caregiver joint attention episodes, as well as responding to joint attention skill and child language, were assessed at 18 months of age. Developmental outcome, using the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II, was assessed at 21 and 24 months of age. Consistent with previous findings, results indicated that individual differences in child-caregiver episodes of joint attention were related to language at 18 months. In addition, though, 12 month vocabulary and responding to joint attention skill were associated with some aspects of 18 month child-caregiver interaction, as well as subsequent language development. In general, 12 month child measures and 18 month child-caregiver interaction measures appeared to make unique contributions to language development in this sample. These results suggest the need to further consider the role of infant skills in the connections between child-caregiver joint attention episodes and language development.