Everything is under control! – This is how the baby learns to grasp
A baby is born with an innate simple grasp reflex, which disappears after a few months. Only gradually does the little human learn to use his hands in a targeted manner. Seeing, touching, touching and handling things – countless sensory and motor experiences are part of it. The little ones take the most important developmental steps in their first year of life.
Before a baby can purposefully reach for objects and consciously let go of them, it has many sensory experiences that stimulate its cognitive processes at the same time.
At first, the small hands tend to randomly pluck at items of clothing or the bedspread – the so-called tactile grasping. Around the third month, when the child raises his arms while lying on his back, he can see his hands. Now he begins to play with his fingers and holds onto a rattle that he has been given. The eyes watch everything that the hands do. In the fifth month, the little one then also uses its mouth to get a more precise picture of the shape and size of the objects it has got hold of. The senses play an important role in the development of grasping: not only sight, touch and touch, but also taste, smell and hearing. The baby perceives the properties of the toys with all of their senses.
Parents should therefore also allow some things to go back into their mouths over and over again.
It is important that an object cannot injure the sensitive oral cavity or the child cannot swallow it and that the surface is non-toxic. Sometimes one hand, sometimes the other!
By five to six months, babies will purposefully reach for toys, switch hands and hold two things at once. It plays with them, knocks them together or on the ground and then throws them away. In this way, the child learns to play with both hands, but also to make isolated movements with each hand. Over time, a holding hand and an action hand are formed. For finer activities, the more skilled hand will be used more frequently over time, which will become more and more dominant. This already initiates right- or left-handedness, which develops by the middle of the second year of life.
At 6 to 7 months, baby can place the thumb opposite the rest of the fingers and use the tweezer grip to grasp small objects.
It is only over time that the index finger and thumb bend. This means that the child can already pick up crumbs and fluff by around the tenth month. They continue to refine this “pincer grip” beyond the first year of life until they can coordinate their fingers and use them in a finely dosed manner. This ability is needed later, especially for painting and writing.
Each child learns individually
But what if a baby doesn’t develop like this? “The individual development steps can be delayed by one to two months without this being a cause for concern,” emphasizes occupational therapist Annette Kosel from the social pediatric center of the children’s hospital in Cologne. “Premature children are allowed to take even more time with these developmental steps. Grasping development is only noticeably delayed when a child is still grasping with the whole hand at the end of the second year of life.”
Parents can help their offspring develop.
It is best to give your baby very different materials to play with: solid and rough, soft and fluffy, round or smooth… Baby toys made of wood, plastic or fabric that have been tested for safety are suitable, but also everyday objects such as wooden spoons, cardboard tubes or small cloths. In this way, the child can have countless experiences in the first year of life – and soon has everything under control!
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Related: Will my baby be left or right handed?
Depending on the baby, this trend can appear differently. After about a year, it usually becomes clear whether your baby will write with the left or right hand in the future. However, it initially indicates a trend. It is only after the second birthday that it is decided which dominant hand your child will have.
The so-called “tweezer grip” – when your baby grasps with the index finger and thumb – will be carried out after about the first year of life. Previously, it is not yet able to grab objects like this.
Once your little one has practiced this well, you will quickly notice that your baby will learn even more quickly that small blocks etc. can also be thrown very well! Especially when mum and dad are busy picking things up again – a very nice game. Perhaps you can work on softer balls to play at this point.
Is your baby a bit older? Offer your baby finger food, small vegetable sticks are great for such experiments. This is a great way to encourage your baby to grab. Alternatively, you can of course use something sweet like a banana or apple. Just try what your rascal likes better!