Welcome to START-Play!

Helping babies learn to move and move to learn.

What is START-Play?

The START-Play (Sitting Together and Reaching to Play) early intervention aims to promote development and readiness to learn in babies with motor delays or challenges. Sitting and reaching skills are critical to early development and help babies explore, interact with others and learn about their world.

Learn More Key Findings

START-Play Continuing Education Course

  • 12 self-paced lessons + 2 online meetings with interventionists
  • 10-hour online hybrid format [take on your own schedule]
  • Continuing education certificate (CEU credit) for 10 hours from the Physical Therapy Board of PA provided
  • Cost $400
Learn More

Our mission is to advance early development through movement and learning skills.

Learning through Play

START-Play therapy targets motor skills that lead to greater physical exploration.


Sitting allows babies to orient themselves to important features in the world.


Early reaching and object exploration skills in the first year of life relate to future cognition.

Motor-based problem-solving

These motor skills aid in problem-solving play scenarios to build critical cognitive abilities.

What We Do

Our research team investigates how babies with motor delays develop motor skills and thinking abilities, and how the START-Play intervention affects babies with motor delays differently than the care usually offered to them.

We examine babies’ motor skills:

  • Sitting
  • Mobility
  • Reaching
  • Head control
  • Control of the arms, legs and hands

We assess babies’ thinking abilities:

  • Problem-solving
  • Object properties
  • Toy play
  • Social interactions
  • Language
  • "START-Play gives parents a chance to learn more about their child’s development and a way to track their child’s progress. The parents of children that receive PT in the treatment group have all been pleased with the amount of progress their child makes during the 12 weeks of the study." Elaine, Therapist
  • "Parents that are in the study like that they are getting more therapy and feel that their child learns to sit up sooner. Parents in the control group are a little disappointed, but like the visits that they do receive and are proud that their baby is already part of a research study. Both groups are sometimes surprised by their child’s cognitive skills. I have not heard anything negative from parents." Elaine, Therapist
  • "Everyone involved in the study has been very nice to work with and I have gotten a sense from my families that they have never said anything bad about the child’s usual therapy program. In addition, my relationships with my families have not changed because of this program." Elaine, Therapist
  • "I was a little worried that the parents might get confused with two different therapists with different approaches, but this has not been a problem. The parents are often eager to show me what their child did during the study sessions. They are still able to tell me about their child’s progress with the joint plan we set together at our last visit." Elaine, Therapist
  • "They make it very easy for the therapist to participate. The surveys that I have been asked to complete are very simple and just take a couple of minutes. You can opt not to have one of your sessions videotaped if that is a concern for you." Elaine, Therapist
  • "I love start play for so many reasons but when parents are brought to tears of joy while watching their baby do things they never thought possible, that makes my day.” Cathy, Interventionist
  • "We know the milestones that she should hit, but not how it should happen, so to be able to participate in something like this is really interesting to us.” Meredith, Parent
  • “It is really fascinating to see something that we just view as play is actually working on these very specific skills.” John, Parent
  • “It has been really cool seeing her do different things that I did not necessarily know she was capable of.” Meredith, Parent
  • “Her progress week to week is really changing.” John, Parent
  • “Your study helped him to sit...just amazing.” Whitney, Parent
  • “The assessment visits give us a chance to see new skills emerging. The excitement on parents’ faces is a joy to be a part of.” Stacey, Researcher
  • “I feel so fortunate to work with parents as they start to see how play is really a window into their child's thinking.” Stacey, Therapist
  • "I really enjoy working on the START-Play research study, because I get to see firsthand how each baby grows and develops in their own, unique way."Emily, Assessor
  • "Supporting learning, play and exploration through changing potential energy into kinetic energy."Shaaron, Interventionist
  • “This was one step beyond [his regular therapy]…making him make connections to take the next step.”Rachel, Parent

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