When Will Toddler Develop a Dominant Hand?

5 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

When will toddler develop a dominant hand

Hand dominance is an important aspect of a toddler’s motor skills development. As parents, it’s natural to wonder when will your toddler develop a dominant hand and how you can support their progress. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of hand dominance, the types of hand dominance, the developmental process, and provide insights into determining if your toddler is left- or right-handed.

Additionally, we’ll address frequently asked questions regarding encouraging the use of both hands and whether ambidextrous children are inherently more clever.

In This Article

What is a Dominant Hand?

Have you ever noticed how you naturally tend to rely on one hand more than the other when you’re doing something like writing, drawing, or even eating? That preferred hand is what we call the dominant hand. It’s like your go-to hand for those skilled tasks that require precision and fine motor skills.

Interestingly, most people have a dominant hand that becomes their trusty sidekick for all these intricate movements. It’s pretty amazing how our bodies find a way to excel in using one hand over the other, don’t you think?

What Are the Different Types of Hand Dominance?

Hand dominance can be classified into three types: right-hand dominance, left-hand dominance, and ambidexterity.

1. Right-Hand Dominance

Right-hand dominance is the most common form of hand dominance, with approximately 90% of the population favoring their right hand for skilled tasks.

2. Left-Hand Dominance

Left-hand dominance occurs when an individual primarily uses their left hand for skilled activities. It is less common than right-hand dominance, accounting for approximately 10% of the population.

3. Ambidexterity

Ambidexterity is the ability to use both hands with equal skill. Ambidextrous individuals can perform tasks using either hand interchangeably and may switch hand preference depending on the situation.

How and When Do Toddlers Develop Handedness?

Toddlers using hand to eat

Handedness is influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Here’s a general timeline of how handedness typically develops in toddlers-

Infancy (0-12 months)

During the first year of life, babies are like little explorers, using both hands symmetrically as they navigate the world around them. They excitedly grab and examine objects, honing their motor skills without showing a clear preference just yet. It’s adorable to watch their tiny hands reaching out and grasping everything within their curious reach!

[Read : When Will My Baby Develop The Pincer Grasp?]

Toddlerhood (1-3 years)

Ah, the magical age of 1! This is when toddlers often begin to show glimpses of their hand preference. You may notice them favoring one hand more than the other for certain activities, like scribbling with a crayon or enthusiastically banging on a drum. It’s a time of discovery and experimentation, so don’t be surprised if they occasionally switch hands as they navigate the exciting world of motor development. And don’t fret over when will toddler develop a dominant hand.

Preschool age (3-5 years)

As your little one grows into the delightful preschool years, their hand dominance starts to solidify. By this stage, most children have established a consistent preference for their dominant hand. However, keep in mind that they might still surprise you by occasionally using the non-dominant hand for less demanding tasks, like reaching for a less preferred toy or holding a cup of juice. It’s all part of their developing motor skills and growing independence!

How to Determine if a Toddler is Left- or Right-Handed?

Toddlers may continue to use both hands till 3 years of age

Determining hand dominance in a toddler can be a gradual process. Here are some signs to look for-

1. Observe Preferred Hand Usage

Pay attention to which hand your toddler predominantly uses for activities like picking up toys, scribbling, or feeding themselves. Consistent use of the same hand over time suggests hand dominance.

2. Hand Preference Consistency

Notice if your toddler consistently uses the same hand for a particular task. While occasional switching between hands is common, a consistent preference indicates emerging hand dominance.

3. Observe Fine Motor Skills

Watch how your toddler performs more intricate tasks, such as using utensils, coloring, or writing. The hand they use for these activities can provide insights into their dominant hand.

[Read : How To Develop Writing Skills In Your Child?]

Top 5 Activities to Boost Hand Dominance in Toddlers

Toddler using one hand to stir and other to hold the pot

Hand dominance comes naturally to toddlers. While you cannot force or coerce them to choose one hand over the other, you can definitely assist them in discovering their dominant hand with the help of few activities like-

  1. Give them stickers and a sheet of paper and ask them to put stickers on that sheet of paper. Make sure they do this activity with both hands. Once by left hand and second time with right hand. You can also place stickers on left side of the paper and ask them to remove it using their right hand and vice versa
  2. Ask them to help you in cooking or baking where there is a lot of work involved using both their hands. Give them simple tasks like stirring a batter in a bowl, using one hand to hold the bowl and other to stir. Activities like these will help establish use of dominant hand
  3. Make them fill out stuff like pasta, beans, etc. in a jar using scoops or spoons. Ask them to hold the jar with one hand and use the other one to fill the jar
  4. Coloring is another activity which may help in determining hand dominance. Give your toddler a sheet of paper and ask them to draw or color on it while keeping it in place using their other hand
  5. Screwing and unscrewing the lids on jars and containers is also a very effective way to help them achieve hand dominance. Give your toddler a jar, bottle, etc. and ask them to open the lid or close the lid with one hand while holding it steady with their other hand

When will toddler develop a dominant hand is usually a matter of time and your toddler’s preference. You cannot rush it or influence it in any way. But, understanding when and how a toddler develops hand dominance can help parents provide appropriate support during their toddler’s motor skills development.

By observing their preferences, providing engaging activities, and allowing them to naturally explore their motor abilities, you can foster a healthy hand dominance progression. Remember, each child develops at their own pace, so be patient and supportive throughout this exciting journey.


1. How Do I Get My Toddler to Use Both Hands?

Encouraging bilateral hand use can be beneficial for your toddler’s overall development. Provide activities that involve both hands, such as puzzles, building blocks, or playing musical instruments. Avoid pressuring them to choose a dominant hand prematurely.

2. Are Ambidextrous Children Clever?

Hand dominance does not determine a child’s intelligence. Ambidextrous children demonstrate a unique skill set and may excel in tasks that require versatility and adaptability. But, that does not mean that they are more clever or intelligent than a left or right handed kid.

Read Also: Tips To Raise A Left-Handed Child

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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