Author Identifier

Caroline Burnay

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Developmental Psychobiology




School of Exercise and Health Sciences




This is an author's accepted manuscript of: Burnay, C., Button, C., Cordovil, R., Anderson, D. I., & Croft, J. L. (2021). Do infants avoid a traversable slope leading into deep water?. Developmental Psychobiology, 63(6), Article e22169.


Ramps used to access swimming pools are designed with a shallow slope that affords easy access for all including infants. Locomotor experience has been linked to infants’ avoidance of falling into the water from drop-offs; however, the effect of such experience on infants’ behavior when a slope is offered to access the water has not been addressed. Forty-three crawling infants (Mage = 10.63 ± 1.91 months; Mcrawling = 2.38 ± 1.77 months) and 34 walking infants (Mage = 14.90 ± 2.18 months; Mwalking = 2.59 ± 1.56 months) were tested on a new Water Slope paradigm, a sloped surface (10°) leading to deep water. No association between infants’ avoidance of submersion and locomotor experience was found. Comparison with the results of infants’ behavior on the water cliff revealed that a greater proportion of infants reached the submersion point on the water slope than fell into the water cliff. Collectively, these results indicate a high degree of specificity in which locomotor experience teaches infants about risky situations. Importantly, sloped access to deep water appears to increase the risk of infants moving into the water thereby making them more vulnerable to drowning.