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P19 Introduction arents have always been captivated by the rapid growth and development that characterize the earli- est years of their childrenâs lives. The first responsive smile, the first wobbly step, the first recognizable wordâeach is a significant personal achieve- ment and an occasion for family celebration. As the months turn to years, unsteady toddling across the living room turns into powerful sprinting across the soccer field, spontaneous smiles evolve into rich friendships, and single words become the building blocks of simple storytelling and, eventu- ally, complex conversations. As the infant becomes a toddler and then a preschooler and finally arrives at his or her first day in kindergarten, par- ents exclaim, âI canât believe how quickly my baby has grown up!ââand they frequently wonder about whether they have done a good enough job. Scientists also have had a long-standing fascination with the process of early childhood development. The systematic study of infant behavior can be traced back to the early to mid-19th century, when researchers in both embryology and evolution raised fundamental questions about the origins and course of human development across the life span (Cairns, 1998; Kessen, 1965; Maccoby, 1980). By the 1920s, practice-based investigators in the professions of pediatrics, education, and social work were increasing their interaction with psychologists in the world of child study, which led to the establishment of a vibrant, multidisciplinary, scientific discipline that has continued to grow as a blend of theory, empirical investigation, and insights derived from professional experience (Richmond, 1967). One of the most abiding issues explored by developmental scientists, 1