The pincer grasp is a skill so internalized by adults – we forget to practice it with our babies. Some parents might not be aware of how important it is to practice such a skill.
Where do we use pincer grasp in our everyday lives? For starters, holding a pen or pencil is one example. Styluses are another, and more modern example. We may pick up coins. We pick up snacks out of a bowl and eat them.
To help your little one get a start on fundamental life skills, there are plenty of simple activities you can do around home to practice pincer grasp with your baby. When your child holds their pencils, crayons, and more with confidence, you’ll be glad you did these.
Pincer Grasp – A Definition
The pincer grasp is defined as a grasp of the hand that occurs when your child reaches ages 8-10 months. This correlates to the age range where the child begins to eat via finger foods, picking up cereal or baby puffs from a height chair tray, or eating baby biscuits.
We need a pincer grasp in our lives because it is needed to pick up tiny items, pinch them between our thumb and index digits, and put it into the mouth.
We also use it to hold various tools like pencils, paintbrushes, crayons, and more.
There are two types of pincer grasp. In one scenario, your child may use the pad of the thumb and the index finger to grasp. This is known as the inferior grip. The regular use of the tips of the thumb and the index finger to grasp.
We use both of these grasps in our lives, as both are important for different objects and textures. Now, let’s get into some activities you and your baby can do.
Ways To Practice Pincer Grasp with Your Baby
There are plenty of fun activities you can use to foster a great pincer grasp in your baby. As your child gets older, activities for this skill become more advanced but are still fun for youths. Let’s discuss some fun baby activities.
If your baby is aged 8-10 months, they are at the prime age for pincer grasp learning. And the objects you can use to practice this skill are likely things you already have around the home (or if not, we’ve rounded up some great deals on what you’ll need).
Offering your baby a variety of blocks in varying textures and sizing is a great way to encourage your little one to hold things in their hands. They will also likely use their mouths to explore these blocks, which also promotes learning.
You can use blocks that make sense for you. We prefer wooden blocks as we find them to be more exciting to the touch, and they seem to be sturdier than plastic blocks. However, some parents may wish for softer plastic blocks, and that’s OK. If you can, try to mix various blocks of different textures.
Here is one great set of blocks you can try. They are soft blocks and perfect for little builders. If the tiny towers they create fall, it’s no big deal as these are soft plastic. Plus, their material makes them a cinch to clean, just use soap and water to get the germs off once playtime is over.
The carrying bag they come in is perfect for taking with you to Grandma’s or anywhere you plan on going.
Read A Board Book
Babies, of course, cannot read. But, they can pretend to do so. After all, babies learn by imitating adults, and a board book not only provides a fun way to practice pincer grip but also fosters a love of reading early on.
Plenty of board books dealing with a variety of topics are available for children. You can find ones about dinosaurs, trucks, animals, or whatever your child enjoys hearing about.
Reading the board book to your baby helps promote language development, and holding the book and turning the pages helps with pincer grasp. As your child gets older, you can offer them paper page books to put their skill to the test.
One good board book to try is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It’s been a favorite among children for generations.
And when your little one is ready to read big-kid books, get them off on the right foot with Reading Head Start.
Offer Finger Foods/Snacks
When we were young, our moms would give us Cheerios as we sat in our height chair. This not only nourished us but also helped us perfect our pincer grip. Whether your baby is eating Cheerios or a baby puff snack, snack time can be pincer grip practice time.
Give your child a few puffs or bits of cereal to pick up with their fingers and munch on. If you’re stuck for a delicious snack for babies, try these Happy Baby Yogis snacks. They’re healthy and taste fantastic, and they come in a variety of flavors.
Exercise the Index Finger
Like any muscle or skill, we have to practice it/exercise it for it to become stronger.
You can encourage your baby to exercise her index finger by poking an object or by pointing at something. These are the first steps to learning the pincer grip.
Exercise The Finger Using Books
Using a board book or regular children’s book, read to your baby and encourage the child to point at the pictures.
You can say the objects in the book as well- “Point at the cow,” “Point at the horse,” and so on. You can demonstrate the action and your baby may imitate the action. It helps them work out their finger, but also learn about the world via reading. Reading is a fundamental skill, and Children Learning Reading helps kids everywhere become better at it.
Fun With Kleenex
You can indulge your child using Kleenex tissues. Kids generally enjoy pulling tissues out of the box, much to the chagrin of parents. But, the act of pulling the tissues out is a great way to foster pincer grip skills.
Allow your baby to pull out a few tissues to boost her skill (or, the whole box if you’re OK with it). You can find a great bargain on Kleenex tissues below – reserve one box for your baby to pull and the other for your family to use!
Pockets: A Place For Toys
Pockets are another fun way to help kids promote their pincer grip. Place a small toy or object in your pocket and encourage your baby to pull it out. You can also encourage them to put it back in. It’s a simple game that becomes a joy to kids when you display excitement and delight over her ability to pick the object out of the pocket.
Some fun pocket toys to try are these soft finger puppets, which are safe and easy for babies to pick up and fun to create stories with.
Related: Best Educational Toys For Babies
Household Items You Can Use
In your home, there are already things you can use to get your child up and running for pincer grip success. Here are a few items to pull out that promote learning in your baby.
Paper and Crayons: Lay down some newspaper and tape it to the table. Then tape a piece of plain computer paper to the newspaper. Give your child a crayon and allow her to just scribble freely. It’s OK if your baby doesn’t steadily hold the crayon. This simple action helps develop fine motor skills.
Kitchen Items: Wooden spoons, measuring cups, and bowls are fun things your child can pick up and hold to strengthen her pincer grip.
Old Telephones: Got an old phone around with buttons? If so, buttons the baby can press freely are great ways to promote the pincer grip. If you have an old item with a turning dial, a switch that can be flipped, or something similar, allow your baby to play with it. It promotes skills needed to achieve mastery of the pincer grasp.
Toys such as stacker rings are perfect for pincer grip practice. Allow your baby the chance to pick them up, toss them, knock them over, stack them, and bang them on the floor/together. They are simple but effective for motor-skill development.
Squeezing/pulling-apart toys: Toys that make use of Velcro are one such example. These toys are great for the development of muscles in the hands of infants. Here is one example of a Velcro toy your baby will love.
Once My Baby Learns Pincer Grip, What Happens Next?
Once your child has developed their pincer grip, they will work on perfecting it. You will notice your baby doing more exploratory gestures, such as rotating, tossing, moving, and shaking.
You will notice their mouth isn’t the primary way of learning about something. They will use their hands to figure out the weight, size, texture, or softness of an object.
The pincer grip is a critical skill, as it assists your little one in the mastery of activities like coloring using crayons, writing with pens and pencils, and cutting using safety scissors.
Your child will also display their dominant hand- by age two or three, you will know whether your baby is right or left-handed.
When To Be Concerned?
All children learn and grow at their own pace. If you find that your child isn’t keeping pace with others their age or performing/trying to perform a pincer grasp, she’s probably building up to it still.
Give your baby some time, and don’t put pressure on them. It’s only truly a worry if your child isn’t doing this action at 12 months of age. If you find that this is the case, make an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss the matter.
Your baby might just need to visit an occupational therapist- nothing that hasn’t been done before.
Was your baby born prematurely? If so please remember that these youngsters reach milestones slightly later than others their age. Genetic disorders such as cerebral palsy or autism may be why he or she has not mastered the pincer grasp. A pediatrician can help you diagnose this.
Now that you’ve got some ideas and easy ways to practice pincer grasp with your baby, which one will you be doing first? Many kids will delight at being able to pull tissues out of the box without fear of being scolded by mom or dad. And, it’s pretty funny to watch them laugh about such a simple task.
No matter which activity you choose, they’re all great, and they will all help your little one become better attuned to the things her hands are capable of. Enjoy practicing this vital skill with your precious child!