Data Collection Protocol

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Infants' natural play in the home is characterized by tremendous variability including variations in: geographic location, climate, SES, maternal/paternal employment, childcare experiences, infants’ and mothers’ ages, language environment, physical layout and characteristics of the home, availability of media, toys for play, and so on. Researchers will be able to explore the effects of any/all such factors.

However, to ensure a sufficient sample size and based on conversations with the launch group, we will limit variability along several dimensions. To be included in the PLAY sample of 900 sessions, participants must be:

  • From two-parent or single-parent households
  • The mother must act as the caregiver during the one-hour natural interaction, which will be scheduled at a time when only the mother and infant are present.
  • English or Spanish monolingual or bilingual (i.e., no other language exposure in the home)
  • The firstborn child (i.e., only child in the household)
  • 12, 18, or 24 months of age (+/- 1 week)
  • Born full-term (37-40 weeks) without known disabilities

Initial call


Hi, may I speak with [MOM]?

→ If not mom on the phone, ask to speak with mother or for her information.

My name is [CALLER NAME] and I’m calling from [LAB] about a home study where we're looking at how moms and babies interact with each other. We'd be visitng your home and you'd receive $25 at the end of the visit for your participation. Can we tell you about it?

First, I have some questions to see if you and [CHILD] qualify for the study.

Does [CHILD]have any siblings?

  • If yes: end call. In this study, we are currently looking for only-children. Would it be alright if we contacted you for other studies in the future?
  • If no: continue

What language(s) do you speak to [CHILD]?

  • If not ENGLISH or SPANISH: end call. To control for differences in communication, we are looking for families who speak mainly English or Spanish. Would it be alright if we contacted you for other studies in the future?
  • If yes: continue

Was [CHILD] born on his/her due date? (If not: “How many weeks and days early/late was he/she?”)

  • If more than 4 weeks early: end call. In this study, we are currently looking for children born on term. Would it be alright if we contacted you for other studies in the future?
  • If born on term (37-41 weeks): continue

Has [CHILD] been diagnosed with any disability (cognitive, auditory, vision, motor)?

  • If yes: end call. In this study, we are looking for typically developing children. Would it be alright if we contacted you for other studies in the future?
  • If no: continue

For this study, we are interested in learning about babies’ natural, everyday experiences in their homes. A researcher will visit you and [CHILD] in your home for about 3 hours. You and [CHILD] will be video recorded for 1 hour as you go about your day, followed by questions on [CHILD]'s skills and routines. We will ask you to take us through your home as we record the environment. For your participation, we will compensate you with $25 at the end of the session.

The data collected in this study are valuable and will be placed in a secure web-based library available only to researchers. The purpose is to share the data with experts in the field so that scientists can learn more about infant development.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in participating in with [CHILD]?

If no to study or to sharing video on Databrary: Okay, thank you. May we call you for other studies?

If yes: Great! Because we are interested in mother-infant routines, we'd like to find a time and date when we can observe just you and [CHILD] at home. It would be great if we can schedule a time that is not during a typical mealtime and when [CHILD] is usually awake. Is there a convenient time and day that works best for you that would be within these criteria?

  • If the date they are available puts baby out of age range: For this study, we are interested in studying specific age groups: 12-, 18-, and 24-month olds. Would it be possible for us to contact you in XX months to see if [CHILD] can participate then?

So I have you and [CHILD] down for our study on [DATE] at [TIME]. We'll be calling you the day before/the Friday before (if study is on Monday) your appointment to confirm that this time still works for you. Before the study, we have a few questions that we'd like to ask. It should only take about 5 minutes. We can either ask you now or when we call to confirm the study. What would you prefer?

Wonderful, have a great day!


Hi, this message is for [MOM]. My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [LAB]. I’m calling because we have a fun study for [12 / 18 / 24]-month-olds and [CHILD] is the perfect age. You would receive $25 for participating in the study and if you are interested in hearing more, please give us a call back. Our phone number is [XXX-XXX-XXXX]. Thank you and we hope to hear from you soon!

Confirming the visit (1 day before actual visit, call and email the day before)


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Hi, may I speak with [MOM]?

My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [LAB] to confirm our visit with you and [CHILD] on [DATE]. Does this time and date still work for you?

  • If phone questionnaire was not completed during initial phone call: Before the visit, I’d like to ask you a few questions. It will only take 5 minutes of your time. Can we speak now?

If yes: Just as a reminder, the data we collect from you now and during the visit, will be shared on a web-based library only available to researchers like the professor who runs this lab.

List of questions on the Phone Questionnaire

Please note that presentation and format will differ in the app.

If no: Can I call you back today or tomorrow [before the visit]. Schedule call.  


  • Camera, SD card and extra battery
  • Mic
  • Laser Measure
  • Dish set, doll, and tote bag
  • Yoga mat
  • Tablet with app for questionnaires, study consent form, Databrary sharing release form, and decibel meter mic
  • Participant payment
  • Paper copies of all questionnaires, MCDI, and consent and Databrary forms in case of tablet failure

Administration on Tablet

  • Start a new questionnaire battery when ready to do Phone Questionnaire
  • Fill out participant information at top of new session batter
  • “Save as Draft” after Phone Questionnaire and home visit questionnaires
  • Only “Submit” after filling out clean-up notes back in lab


Say to Mom:

“Thanks for letting us come to your home. The visit has a few parts:

I’ll begin by video-recording you and [CHILD] as you go about your day. I will video-record you both for 1 hour. Then, I will ask [CHILD] to play with some toys both by him/herself and with you.

Afterwards, I will ask you some general questions about your family and home, and about [CHILD]’s skills and routines.

You will give me a tour of your home that I will record on video to get a sense of the places [CHILD] goes and things that he/she plays with.

Do you have any questions? Let’s start with reading and signing the consent.“

Ask parent to review form asking for consent to participate in the study. When finished, give parent a moment to look over form and sign it.

Ask parent to review form asking for permission to share videos and metadata. When finished, give parent a moment to look over the form and sign it. Here is the Databrary Release Language. Here are videos depicting how to ask for permission to share and a sample script.

Visit Protocol

1: 1-Hour Natural Play Video & Noise Measurement

1-Hour Natural Play Video


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Participant View
Experimenter View

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Participant View
Experimenter View


Participant View
Experimenter View


Participant View
Experimenter View
Instruction to mom:

“For the next hour, do anything you would typically do if I weren’t here. Try to ignore me as much as possible and I will stay out of the way. I will also try not to respond to you and [CHILD] so that he/she is not distracted. You can go anywhere in your home. You can play together or not. The idea is to capture what your typical day is like.”

  • Keep camera on the child at all times. Specifically, ensure that the child’s whole body is visible on camera. If mom is in frame, capture as much of her body as possible without compromising view of the child.
  • Record in front or to the side of the child as much as possible.
  • Do not zoom in.
  • Remain at as far a distance as possible (~3 to 5 m, hugging the wall) so that the child is not distracted by your presence.
  • Try not to interact with the child or make eye contact with the child. Just watch through the view finder of the camera.


If child is wearing shoes, video-record the shoes after the session; take them off child and video the bottom, side, and top views.

  • Zoom in with camera and comment on shoe type, heel (if any), and other observations.
Decibel Meter

Open the app on your tablet and start running it just before you begin recording the free play video portion of the visit. This process should be recorded on the video camera.

  • Open application (the application immediately starts recording noise levels upon startup).
  • Place device in the most central place in the home (e.g., living room).
  • The microphone should be facing towards the room (e.g., away from walls) and propped up on the microphone stand so that it is not lying flat against the surface of the space.

2: Structured five-minute mother-child play



Participant View

“Please sit next to [CHILD]. I’ll give you a set of toys. Please play with [CHILD] however you like.”

  1. Record so that the child and mother’s entire body and hands are captured.
  2. Use timer on camera to time engagement.
  3. After 5 minutes, say “Great job!”

3: Questionnaires


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General Questionnaire

“I have some questions for you…” [Only give introduction to the sections that need introduction (i.e., ECBQ and MacArthur)].


- Set up camera to record the questionnaires. You'll need to change the battery on the camera to ensure sufficient power. - Sit next to the mom so she is able to read along.

  • MacArthur should be administered in the primary language of the mom.
  • Specific instructions and procedure are included in the questionnaire.
  • Read instructions on questionnaire.
  • Give mom answer sheet with rating scale

4: House Walkthrough & Room Measurements

Video House Walkthrough


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“Now, we would like to see the space that [CHILD] gets to explore throughout the day. Please give me a tour of your home as I follow with a camera, and take measurements of the spaces. As we walk around, please show me where you keep any objects — toys, books, sippy cups, anything like that — that [CHILD] might interact with regularly. Please show me where you keep his/her clothes to give us an idea of the kinds of things he/she wears.”

Procedure (Video):
  1. Experimenter should watch recording through camcorder screen to ensure that the view is not blurry or shaky. Move the camera slowly and walk slowly. A clear and steady view, free of blurriness and shakiness, is necessary for detailed coding of the home environment.
  2. Ensure during the house walkthrough that the parent provides information on all of the following:
  • Children's Sleeping Arrangements. If parent does not offer information during walkthrough, say “Please show me where [CHILD] typically sleeps.”
  • Child’s Clothes. If parent does not offer information during walkthrough, say “Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s clothes.”
  • Child’s Books. If parent does not offer information during walkthrough, say “Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s books.”
  • Child’s Toys. If parent does not offer information during walkthrough, say “Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s toys.”
Instructions for House Walkthrough:
  1. Pause at the entrance of the room.
  2. Name the room by its function (e.g., “This is where [CHILD] sleeps”).
  3. First, get as much of the Entire Room in frame as possible. Keep the camera zoomed out and make sure to capture the ceiling and the floor of the room.
  4. Next, pan the camera SLOWLY from Left to Right.
  5. Then, pan the camera to Floor, name the different types of surfaces in the space (hardwood, plush carpet, thin rug, linoleum, tile, etc.), and then pan to the Ceiling.
  6. Hold the camera in one hand while you take measurements of the room.
  7. If parent doesn’t offer information, ask parent if child spends time in each room: “Does [CHILD] spend any time in this room?”
  8. When parent doesn’t offer information, ask parent about child’s objects in the room: “Do you keep anything for [CHILD] in this room? (If yes:) Would you mind showing me?”
  9. Experimenter should film the Location of the storage space (drawer, toy chest, cabinet) in clear context of the rest of the room. Then, SLOWLY and CLEARLY film the Contents of the storage space to show what is inside of it, zooming in if needed. (Overhead view for bed, crib, drawers, toy chest, etc.; Zoomed in side view for cabinet, closet, bookshelf, etc.)
  10. Do NOT turn off the camera when walking to next room.
  11. Walk SLOWLY.
Room Measurements with Laser Distance Measurer
  • Measure all rooms in the house.
  • Room = any space used by someone on a regular basis, including: bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Do not measure laundry rooms. Rooms don’t have to have windows.
  • A room has to have a clear demarcation (e.g., a wall or an entry).
  • If the room has a short divider (e.g., when a kitchen and a living room are divided by a counter), count as one big room and measure accordingly.

  1. Turn measure on by pressing ON/DIST button. Make sure the laser is on.
  2. Place the base of the laser flat on the wall. Avoid moldings, door castings, and reflective surfaces.
  3. Measure wall to wall, lengthwise and widthwise.
  4. If a room has an odd or asymmetrical shape (i.e., any shape other than a rectangle or a square), measure the largest rectangle or square area of the room.
  5. Press ON/DIST again to take measurement.
  6. Repeat the above for length and width.
  7. Focus camera on laser measure and read measurements out loud.

5: Visit Wrap-up

  • Complete housing checklist and clean-up notes sections of the questionnaire battery.
  • When you arrive back at the lab, wash all toys and equipment thoroughly. Wipe down yoga mat. Rinse dish set in bleach-water.
  • Check over all questionnaire responses and hit “Submit”.
  • Upload videos and decibel data to Databrary.