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Fine motor skills are the use of small muscle movement that occurs in the finger in coordination with the eyes. Hands are the “tools” most often used to do work, play, and perform any task which is needed in day-to-day life.
One would be surprised to know that fine motor development also starts as soon as the baby is born. A newborn generally holds his hands clenched, if the finger is inserted in the child’s hand, his grasp will be so strong that we can actually lift him. Grasp is the initial stage of fine motor development in babies.
A baby who is slow or not able to grasp may have certain problems like poorly developed muscles of the hand, closed fist due to spasticity, thumb in palm attitude or ape thumb deformity, increased flexor/extensor tone.
Intervention or How to Deal With It
Babies who are slow to develop sometimes have little or no grasp reflex and are slow to learn to hold things, for such babies these activities may help:
- If the baby keeps his hands close, stroke the outer edge of the hand from little finger to wrist. This causes the baby to lift and open his hand and to hold your finger.
- Move the baby’s arm in elevation or rotate it in cyclic motion. This will facilitate hand opening.
- Give tummy time under your supervision. Place baby on his stomach with his weight bearing on elbows with hand open. This will facilitate hand opening. Then hold the shoulder forward/backward, keeping the head upright.
- Facilitate eye contact (same level as your baby’s eye) with shining objects or toys or sound-producing objects or toys. Make some sound and encourage the baby to look and reach towards the direction of the sound.
The development of grasping skills provides an excellent example of how motor skills start at gross and move towards mastery of fine motor skills. A delay in the development of fine motor skills will have an impact on a baby’s brain development, social interaction, and communication.
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