During the first year of the baby’s life, parents, especially the first timers, will be eagerly looking forward to the developmental milestone of baby and will be thrilled to see when the baby reaches those milestones. Rolling over, sitting, standing, walking are some of the major developmental milestones that are looked forward by the family. Grasping things is another developmental milestone. Continue reading to find out more about pincer grasp one of the significant milestones which open the world of independence for the baby.
What Is Pincer Grasp?
Pincer grasp simply implies the ability of the baby to squeeze small objects with the thumb and index finger. Once your baby develops pincer grasp, eventually, this will empower him to feed himself. Apart from feeding, if the baby is able to grasp things, then this is his first step on the path of reading, writing, drawing etc.
How Do Babies Develop Pincer Grasp?
Right from the time of birth, the baby figures out how to hold anything in the palm by wrapping the fingers and thumb around it from one side. This is known as palmer grasp. It takes the baby around a year to develop the ability to pick up and hold things tightly in his hands. Thus, the palmar grasp gradually develops into pincer grasp. The baby starts working intensively on this skill by the time he turns 3 months and makes leaps with each passing month. Usually, the baby develops pincer grasps between 8 and 12 months. Here is how the baby develops grasping skills through the months:
- Birth to two months:
- The babies are born with grasping skill. Just place your finger on the baby’s palm. You can see the baby wraps its finger around yours
- Eventually, the baby starts to notice things that are bright and big and might even try to reach out for them
- Three to four months:
- During this time, the hand-eye coordination starts to develop. The baby will be able to reach out to hold a toy or block. She may not grasp perfectly, but will be able to hold a rattle for a few seconds
- Five to six months:
- By this time, the palmar grasp becomes a voluntary skill. Five or six-month-old babies will be able to intentionally hold objects
- The baby tries to pick an object, cover it with the little hand, and press into the clenched hand
- Rather than the fingers, the baby uses the entire hand to grasp, pick, and hold an object
- Seven to nine months:
- During this period, the baby can use all the fingers and thumb to grasp a small toy
- The baby will be able to pass an object from one hand to the other
- Nine to twelve months:
- By now, the baby develops pincer grasp, which lets her pick up small objects between her thumb and forefinger
What If My Baby Does Not Develop Pincer Grasp?
All babies are different and they achieve milestones at their own pace. If your baby is not attempting for a pincer grasp, most probably the baby may not be ready for it yet. Likewise, premature babies reach milestones a little later.
However, if the child is not using the pincer grasp by 12 months, an assessment should be done to evaluate the baby’s fine motor skills. Delayed or absent pincer grasp can be due to genetic disorders like cerebral palsy and autism. Do consult your pediatrician to clarify any worries or doubts.
Tips To Encourage Babies In Using Pincer Grasp
Allowing the baby to explore a lot with fingers by touching and exploring toys or household objects will help the baby to achieve this developmental milestone of pincer grip quickly.
- Placing individual small food items like Cheerios, raisins, mini marshmallows, etc. Inside the compartments of an ice cube tray or egg carton is a great way to challenge the baby to use only his index finger and thumb to get them out. Similarly, encouraging the baby to have finger food like cooked carrot from a plate will also increase his motor skill
- Playing with toys that can be squeezed or pulled apart will help to strengthen the tiny muscles in the hand that are required for skills that are more complex later on
- Let the baby pull out the tissues from a tissue box, picking one at a time. The child loves this activity, which at the same time will also help to increase his pincer grip skills
- Encourage the baby to scribble with crayons regardless of the fact that he still cannot hold it steadily. Keep in mind the child is still in the process of building up his fine motor skills
Once the pincer grasp is developed, babies start to explore more by shaking, moving, throwing, and rotating the objects at their reach. They use both the hands to find out the size, hardness, texture, weight, and other properties. In short, the usage of the mouth by the baby to examine the objects will be reduced gradually.
Pincer grasp is essential in activities such as holding pencils, coloring with crayons, cutting with scissors, and so on. However, whether the baby is a left handed or right, will be visible only when he turns two or three years old. Until then the babies tend to use both hands equally.