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With all the milestones your baby is accomplishing like rolling over, sitting, up, and maybe crawling, you might be wondering what is next? Well, the good news is that your baby is learning some very important motor development skills all at the same time. The pincer grasp is one of the most important fine motor skill that they are currently learning.
What is Pincer Grasp?
The pincer grasp is a developmental skill that babies learn which uses their thumb and index finger to pick up objects. Think of a baby when they use those two fingers to pick up a Cheerio. That is a pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is possible when the brain and muscles work together to help your baby pick up an object. Once they learn and start to develop this it opens up a whole new world of independence.
This of course is the beginning stages of using their pincer grasp. From there they will continue to develop these skills over time to stack blocks, snap buttons, and even hold a pencil.
At what age does a pincer grasp develop?
A baby usually will start to develop their pincer grasp around 9 or 10 months.
Why is Pincer Grasp Important?
Pincer grasp is the key to independence in babies as well as kids. Kids need pincer grasp to be able to
- Feed themselves
- Hold a crayon / pencil with a 3 fingertip pinch
- Hold eating utensils
- Use scissors properly
- Manipulating objects from one hand to another
- Play with toys and blocks
- Properly use buttons and zippers
Stages of Pincer Grasp
There are three different stages of pincer grasp development. Each step builds upon another.
- Palmer Grasp. The first stage is the palmer grasp. The palmer grasp is what helps your baby be able to curl their fingers around an object. Think about this as your baby grabbing onto your finger.
- Raking Grasp. The raking grasp is using those fingers to move over items like they are combing or raking them.
- Inferior Pincer Grasp. This phase happens right before the full pincer grasp. This is when babies use their pads of their fingers to try and pick up objects rather than the tips. It normally involves them using their palm as well to grasp the object. This develops around 7 to 8 months.
What if my child does not have a good pincer grasp?
It may be more difficult for your child to play with toys correctly if they have a poor pincer grasp. Not only that, but they may struggle with certain life skills like dressing and feeding themselves. It is important to give your child opportunities to develop these skills to help them become independent.
If your child is struggling with pincer grasp it might be a good idea to consult your pediatrician and have them see an Occupational Therapist to help give them certain exercises to help develop their pincer grasp when they are young.
Pincer Grasp Activites
Once your baby develops their pincer grasp, it doesn’t stop there. They will continue to perfect these skills for several years. It is important to give your baby and kids activities they can do to help them continue in this development.
Pincer Grasp Activities for Babies and Toddlers
Blocks are a great way to teach babies and kids how to use that pincer grasp. At a young age, it might be your baby picking them up to put in their mouth, but over time it will develop into stacking blocks on top of one another to make a tower. As they do this they will use the pincer grasp hold to carefully stack them to further develop these muscles.
I know it may be scary to give your baby or toddler a crayon or marker, but it is imperative that they learn to hold the writing device correctly and learn to imitate lines and circles. Start by drawing lines on a paper and see if your toddler can draw a line that looks like it.
By the time your toddler hits two years old, it is a great time to introduce them to kids safety scissors. Give them pieces of paper and let them chop them however they please. As their cutting skills develop, give them objects to cut out and lines to cut on.
Playdough is a great thing to give your baby and toddler to play with and manipulate. This will develop much-needed hand muscles to develop pincer grasp development. Just be sure that the play dough is safe for kids and babies because we all know that they will probably try to eat it.
I love giving little kids tongs to play with! I usually give them two trays a pair of tongs and pom pom balls. From there, let your baby or toddler move pom pom balls from one tray to another using the tongs.
Grab some big baby safe beads and a shoelace string and let your baby lace the beads onto the string. When they get older Froot Loops work really great for a wearable snack that they can enjoy after all their hard work.
When we go to church I always have a busy book in my bag. This book has tons of quiet activities that help develop those pincer skills, not to mention it will keep them entertained while sitting still at least for a little bit.
Pincer Grasp Activities for Kids
Lacing cards a great way to teach your kids the proper technique to hold a string or pencil. While playing with lacing cards it reinforces that correct hold of an object.
What kids don’t love tops? Grab some tops and have them spin them. They won’t even know they are strengthening muscles through fun play.
You never realized that Jenga actually users that pincer grasp until now huh? I bet you just imitated pulling out a block to see if you used it right? This is even a fun way for adults to reinforce those same muscles.
Slime is harder than playdough, but that pulling and pinching helps with muscle development. So break out the slime or make your own.
Legos are not only great for the imagination but they continue to reinforce the development skills that are needed. So next time it is your child’s birthday or Christmas, pick up some age appropriate Legos.
There you have it! Everything you wanted to know about pincer grasp as well as how to help your child develop it! What activities would you add to the list? Share in the comments!