As babies develop and learn how to move their bodies, big muscles develop first and allow little ones to begin moving and cruising. Tiny muscles, such as those in the hands, take longer to develop and can be harder to attach to milestones for parents.
Grasp patterns are the coordinated movements the hand uses to pick up and hold objects. These patterns may seem small, but they affect how people are able to learn and interact with their environment. Grasp patterns can influence the level of independence a person has during daily tasks.
During the first year of life, a lot of grasping milestones happen! There are a number of different activities you can do with your child to help them develop their grasp patterns. Babies start working on grasping at as young as 4-months-old.
Here is how grasping evolves:
- 4-6 Months: Ulnar palmar grasp, palmar grasp, and radial palmar grasp. All build the full-hand grasp, beginning with a few fingers and eventually using the thumb to hold an object.
- 7-8 Months: Raking grasp and radial digital grasp. Attempts to pick up objects using a “raking” method.
- 9-10 Months: Inferior pincer grasp and pincer grasp. Uses tips of thumbs and index fingers to pick up and hold objects. This milestone is closely related to the time when babies begin to feed themselves food.
After the first year, babies will start to build and scribble; these types of activities help them refine motor skills. After turning two, toddlers begin mastering grip, activities such as tracing and using scissors to cut on a line can further grip development.
As a parent, you can help your child develop their grasping strength through a number of easy, fun ways.
- Stacking Block: Have your baby play with blocks of varying sizes and textures that they can pick up by using their fingers. Encourage stacking, transferring, or tapping the blocks together!
- Self-feeding: Offer your baby small pieces of whatever table food you are offering and add them to an ice tray before you serve. This will require your child to utilize the gripping abilities to get the food out of the small space.
- Pom pom whisk: Take a whisk, place crafting pom-poms through the wires of the whisk. Encourage your baby to pull out the pom-poms one at a time. Your baby will love the varying colors and feeling the soft texture of the pom-poms!
Empowering your little ones to interact and literally grab the world around them is critical to allowing them to reach their full potential. Have fun watching your child explore the world in a way that allows them to develop, grow, and explore.
If you are looking for fun activities to do with your child that encourage exploring the world around them in a way that develops their sensory skills (including grasping), check out our free download SENSORY GUIDE