Your heart may skip a beat the first time your baby grasps a rattle (only to promptly drop it!). Hand grip is something your baby starts working on as young as four months old. Eventually, it helps her open and close containers, dress and feed herself, use writing utensils, and move across the monkey bars at the park.
Let’s take a look at the milestones that aid your baby’s grip development:
4 months: Ulnar palmar grasp. This grasp is the first step toward your baby’s grip. She’ll hold an object you give her in her palm while gently wrapping one or two of her fingers, excluding the thumb, around it. She won’t have a strong grip on the object at this point, so it may roll away from her hand.
5 months: Palmar grasp. The palmar grasp is a full-hand grasp where your baby has a little more control of the object. She’ll center it more in her hand and will wrap all of her fingers (again, excluding the thumb) around it.
6 months: Radial palmar grasp. Around this age, your baby will start using her thumb to help hold an object in her hand. However, her thumb will be more of a support system for the object to lean against than part of her grip, while the other fingers will do most of the grasping.
7 months: Raking grasp. Around 7 months, your baby will attempt to pick up objects on her own using a “raking” method. You’ll see her reach out and move her arm in a raking motion to try to pull it closer and grab. She’ll usually spread out her fingers and contract them to close around the object, strengthening her muscles with each movement.
8 Months: Radial digital grasp. The radial digital grasp is similar to the pincer grasp but without as much refinement. Your baby will use the pads of her thumb and other fingers to grab and hold an object.
9 Months: Inferior pincer grasp. The inferior pincer grasp is like the radial digital grasp, except now, your baby will be able to use only her thumb and index finger to hold a toy. She’ll still use the pads of her fingers rather than the tips.
10 Months: Pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is a significant milestone for babies to conquer. Your baby uses the tips of her thumb and index finger to pick up and hold objects, which will eventually help her with everything from feeding herself to zipping a jacket! Because this grasp uses more refined movements than others, it’s also beneficial for strengthening hand, finger, and wrist muscles and coordinating their movements to further fine motor skills.
12-18 Months: Beginning to build and draw. Around 12 months, your baby will start to put two blocks together and make small marks on paper. By the end of 18 months, she’ll be building small towers and scribbling masterpieces! Another milestone happens during this timeframe: She’ll start to twist and turn her hands and wrists to manipulate objects. For example, she can hold a heart-shaped toy with enough control to turn it to fit in the heart-shaped cutout of a sorting container.
19-24 Months: Refining movements. During these critical months, you’ll see your baby refine the movements she’s been working on. She can imitate line drawings, stack more blocks, line up objects, and open and close container lids, all of which prove that she’s strengthening her grip.
25 to 36 Months: Mastering grip. You’ll see many fine motor improvements as your two-year-old nears age three. She’ll begin to trace shapes on paper, string large beads, build larger towers, and use scissors to snip and cut paper. As your toddler refines her hand, finger, and wrist movements, she’ll strengthen the muscles she’ll need for writing, dressing, playing, and more.
A lot is going on with those tiny hands and fingers every day! If you’re using BabySparks, you’re supporting these milestones with every fine motor activity you do with your little one!