One of the most important mini-milestones of fine motor skills is the development of the pincer grasp. This is best seen when your baby uses her thumb and index finger to pick up tiny little objects. It is facilitated by your baby’s fascination with small objects and pieces of fluff on the floor. Developmentally it is the precursor for the fine manipulation of things, like zips and buttons and eventually for the pencil grip which is vital for writing.
The pincer grip emerges at around 9 months, when your baby will be able to use her thumb and forefinger to pick up smaller objects. You can be prepared-ish to encourage this skill, with these activity ideas from OT and founder of Gap, Lourdes Bruwer:
- Prior to being able to do the pincer grasp, you can encourage isolated movement of the index finger by playing pointing games like pointing to a picture in a book or pushing a button on a toy.
- Mealtimes are great for strengthening this skill - small food items such as raisins or peas can be great for encouraging this pincer grasp.
- Babies at this stage love posting items, so allowing your little one to post her small food items into an ice cube tray or into a pillbox is a great motivator.
- Pom-poms or koosh balls available from arts and crafts stores can be loads of fun for babies to grasp and post, you can cut a hole into an old yoghurt container and let your baby post the pom poms into the hole.
- Place little stickers onto her arm or hand and help her to use her pincer grip to remove the stickers.
When letting your little one play with small objects that encourage the pincer grasp, watch out as a few may land up in her mouth - this is great for touch receptors in and around the mouth but be sure to fish them out so she doesn’t choke!