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One of the first ways babies play with their moms is by grasping new objects dangling in front of their face or within their reach. Your little one may soon realize that she has the power to hold something in her little fists, and this makes both mommy and baby very proud! Learn more about this important developmental milestone.
Video : Grasping in Babies – How Does It Develop & How to Encourage It
Every parent eagerly looks forward to each developmental milestone their baby reaches, a sign that their little one is growing up healthy and normal. The rate of growth is highest during the infant stage, decreasing progressively towards toddlerhood. Be prepared, for your infant is soon going to give you lots of moments to capture!
Significant Infant Milestones
Most experts agree that the first significant milestone for an infant is smiling, which usually takes place around 8 weeks. At around 3 months, she is ready for her next stop on the milestone route, which is learning to roll over. By this age, she would have started to identify her home and family members, and is now prepared to have some fun with them! They also know what their food and toys look like, and are ready to grab them when needed!
How Young Babies Grasp
Newborns are actually born with the ability to grasp, which is why they’ll close their tiny fingers around yours. This is called the Palmar Reflex. Some babies also clutch at the edge of their blanket or shirt. At about 3 or 4 months, babies are aware of where familiar objects like dangling toys, bottle, etc. are placed, and they can stretch their arms towards those object. Their hand-eye coordination is good, but the muscles of their fingers, especially their thumbs, aren’t strong enough to actually hold something.
How Older Babies Grasp
When babies near 6 months, their thumbs and other hand muscles have developed sufficiently to pick-up larger objects, most of which usually make their way straight into their mouths! They are at an exploratory age now, and everything around them has become interesting – now is the time for childproofing your home! They are also able to move things from one hand to another.
How do Toddlers Grasp Things
As babies approach their first birthday, they would have become experts at picking things up. Now, they can hold a crayon in their hands, though not with a perfect pencil grip. They can usually hold an object between their thumb and forefinger – this is called the pincer grasp. By this time, you can make out which hand they show a preference for. They can feed themselves finger food, so be aware of choking hazards.
How to Encourage Babies to Grasp
- For a baby who’s lying on his back, hang a colourful toy next to her cot, or over her changing table. You can also play with her by dangling a colourful toy over her body so that she tries to bat it from side to side.
- When your baby is slightly older, turn her over for some tummy time. A baby gym may be a good idea so that she can try to reach out for all the colourful toys and pictures. Place a toy a few inches in front of her to encourage her to reach her hand out and touch it.
- When your baby starts solids, give her a spoon to hold occasionally. This way, she gets to practice holding the spoon and trying to feed herself. Beware – at this point, most of the food is likely to land on the floor and upon you!
- When your baby is sitting, place an assortment of cups and other toys in front of her. Let her grasp a toy and drop it into a cup and so on. This is a great learning experience for your child.
- At one year of age, give your child a jumbo non-toxic set of crayons, preferably with a triangular shape for better grip. Spread out large sheets of paper, and let her scribble away. Be sure to tell her that the walls are off limits!
When to See the Doctor
It is important to know that all children develop at their own pace. But if your little one doesn’t seem interested in anything dangling in front of her, and does not swipe at objects even at 3 months, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor.
A very important point to consider at every stage is adequate child proofing. Babies explore everything through their mouths, which is a natural destination for whatever they pick up. Keep away all kinds of chemicals and sharp objects, and take care of dangling table cloths and wires. When there is a secure environment to explore and play in, both the baby and her mom can have fun without worrying!!