I’ve been working on fine-tuning my baby’s pincer grasp this week to help him more successfully self-feed finger foods. This will also help with meal time clean up, more food in baby’s mouth equals less in the high chair and on the floor. Win, win!
So, what exactly is the pincer grasp?! The pincer grasp or pinch grasp is using the tip of the index finger and thumb to grasp or pick up small objects. It is typically developed by twelve months of age. Establishing the pincer grasp is key to developing independence. It is used to do essential activities like dressing, putting on shoes, bathing, brushing teeth, and feeding. Babies initially use their whole hands to grab/rake things, usually around seven to eight months old. As they mature and develop fine motor strength and coordination, around nine to eleven months old, their pincer grasp becomes more refined and able to pick up most anything tiny, tiny that is in their sights. Development of the pincer grasp equals increased independence and safety risks as everything picked up goes in baby’s mouth. Increased safety risk, oh no! Why am I encouraging that? Because it’s my job to raise a confident, independent and self-sufficient little man. But, it is very important to be mindful of choking hazards. So, here are some activities we’ve been doing this week to encourage the pincer grasp skill.
1. Tissue box– yes, every now and then, let baby bask in the enjoyment of pulling every single tissue out of the box, you can also replace the tissue with scarves to make a more sustainable task.
2. Wipe box– same concept as tissues except it provides a nice sensory experience too, can also use the wipe box to put just about anything that may appeal to baby inside to pull out
3. Container Play– recycle any container with a large top opening and place small items inside for baby to reach in and pull out, this is a great way to integrate vocabulary and concepts too! “It’s a cow, cow says moo!” “You found a red rectangle!”
4. Ring Stacker– there are several on the market, click the link to check some out, my son loves this rattle ring!
5.Open/Close– Pretty much any activity that requires baby to open and close things requires use of the pincer grasp. Opening and closing the kitchen cabinet door entertained my son for a good amount of time, all the while he was practicing his grasp. Baby can get his fingers on this one, so watch out!
6. Container Toys– Babies love to put things in and take things out. Toys that have pieces that can be put in and taken out are good for pincer grasp use. My son loves to play with this Melissa and Doug School bus. This bus is great for all kinds of language development! (Can’t you hear me singing? 😊)
7. Finger foods– Give baby lots of opportunities to pick up their food, my son works really hard to grasp when I hand him pieces. Giving baby one or two small items to pick up will encourage use of the pincer grasp. Baby is more likely to use his whole hand if presented lots of items at once. Baby Fisher likes Happy Baby Organic Puffs. So far, this is the only finger food he will pick up independently. He doesn’t like to handle soft, squishy foods.
Of note….. These activities kept my son’s attention for all of 30 seconds each and were mommy directed (I had to hold the containers and demonstrate what I wanted baby to do). Otherwise, he would have just dumped the items out of the containers and put them directly in his mouth. I recommend direct supervision with all tasks. If you have concerns regarding pincer grasp development, discuss with your child’s pediatrician.
I hope these activities help my sweet baby and yours too! Any other recommendations?! Please share!