Using our hands as useful tools starts in the first few months. Your newborn baby’s hands are often in a fist. But if you place an object into his open hand, he is likely to grasp it. According to the OT and founder of Gap kids, this is because your baby is born with involuntary reflexes which allow him to grasp and release objects in the early months.
Lourdes advises that as he gets older, your baby learns to replace these involuntary or automatic reflexes with more purposeful movement. Learning to grasp an object at around 3-5 months is important for getting his little hands to the midline of his body. This is an important mini-milestone, which is vital for learning to use the two hands in a coordinated way when he is older and learning to catch a ball or use scissors to cut.
Here are a few great ideas to be prepared-ish to encourage your little one to grasp an object:
- Play finger games, such as “This little piggy goes to market” – pulling each little finger to encourage his little fingers to open up and to develop awareness of his hands.
- Put your baby by in a side-lying position and give him an object to play with. In this side lying position, his hands will come together easier with the help of gravity.
- Offer him cylindrical shapes to encourage the little hands to stretch open, such as a hair curler, a pill bottle filled with rice to give it a sound and wrapped in black and white paper to make it visually appealing, a toilet roll inner, a wooden peg etc.
- Use a rattle to encourage him to grasp and shake. Maybe sure the rattle’s handle is as thin as your finger or thumb so his little hand can manage to hold it.
- Place an interesting object suspended on a mobile just over his head – initially he will just sweep his hands towards it but in time, he will reach and grasp for the object.
Have fun stimulating your little one’s fine motor skill by offering these opportunities to start grasping toys.