1st step to learning through our hands.
Learning how to hold things is the precursor to our babies learning how to self-feed, self-care, reading, writing, and drawing.
GRASPING starts in our newborns as a grasping reflex (instinctual and involuntary movement) but with each passing week/month, hand skills start to become intentional and more coordinated.
NEWBORN to 2 MONTHS:
- Baby is born with a grasping reflex- instinctively and involuntarily grab on to an adult finger for the first 8 weeks. Observe reflex by touching baby’s palm with finger and baby will curl fingers around yours.
- During this time, your baby's hands will mostly be clenched in a fist but soon your baby will begin to open and close them on purpose and to examine them. You might even start seeing your baby trying to grasp and touch soft objects, such as blankets and stuffed animals.
- Your baby is no longer a newborn and still can’t accurately grasp desired objects but baby can bat at his/her toys over and over again. Baby is starting to develop eye-hand coordination (i.e., coordinating the information received through the eyes to control, guide and direct the hands in order to accomplish a given task, such as reaching and grasping for an object), noticing the things that would like to hold and attempt to reach for. Your baby can also grasp objects placed in his/her hands.
- At this age, parents can simply offer babies one toy at a time and allow them to develop their grip and experience different textures with hands. Also with a floor gym, child can lie on a soft mat and start swiping at color, musically and fun things hanging within arms’ reach above.
- Babies are now reaching and picking up large items, such as blocks, independently and with purpose. Babies will start developing their ability to plan and coordinate their movements by looking back and forth between presented toys and their hands.
- Shortly before first teeth start to come in, your baby will start picking up items they find around them so that they can put them in their mouths to explore. Baby will rake an object toward self and will start moving objects from one hand to the other hand and you will start to see baby grasping using the entire hand to cup the object and may use thumbs to press the object securely into palms. TIP: make sure things around baby are safe and things baby will not be able to swallow and choke on.
- ACTIVITIES: At this age parents should offer toys so that they must reach out and grab it; such as, presenting the toys above head, toward the floor, to each side and where baby has to reach across his/her body to reach with opposite arms. Parent should provide a variety of toys and objects (different sizes, shapes and weights) in order for baby to start increasing hand strength, coordination of reach and grasp, and manipulation of fingers for skill progression.
- Babies have now mastered the ability to pass objects back and forth between hands. They are showing increased muscular agility and are processing the “cause & effect” of their actions.
- With little effort, objects can be picked up. Hand preference is starting to emerge but parents will not be able to determine true left- or right-handedness until child is 2 or 3 years old.
- Pincer grasp is being perfected so baby is picking up small objects, such as finger foods, between his/her thumb and forefinger (index finger).
- With increase coordination, baby will soon be able to use a spoon and fork fairly well to start self-feeding during mealtime.
- Manipulating objects has increased so baby may be trying to roll or throw small toys.
- ACTIVITIES: Offer hand toys that encourage problem solving, like shape sorters, blocks and nesting cups (i.e, stacking/placing objects and taking objects out of containers). During mealtime, offer a spoon and fork for baby to hold onto while eating. Parent can initially help guide baby with how to use utensils by holding onto spoon/fork with baby’s hand and guiding the movement back and forth from plate to mouth. Encourage back and forth games with balls and/or handing an object back and forth to one another.
- 2-3 months: not interested in a toy or another object placed in front of baby
- 3 months: can’t grasp an object
- 3-4 months: doesn’t attempt to touch or pick-up an object
Be sure to check back this time next month as we continue with Part 2 of “Learning Through Our Hands.”