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In our last blog Baby v Touch Screen we highlighted the effects touch screen products could have on the development of fine motor skills and in particular the pincer grip.
What is Pincer Grip?
The pincer grip occurs once baby begins to develop their fine motor skills, it is the act of using the index finger and thumb to form a strong hold/grip.
Babies begin to develop this pincer grip around 9 months old, it is a huge milestone, as it is the first sign of independence, of trying to do things for themselves. Once they have started to develop this grip, baby will be in a better position to be able to feed themselves. It is a huge developmental step as this is the first time your baby can really interact with the things around them and find out about everything.
It is essential later in life that baby has well developed motor skills. Today many children are starting school with an underdeveloped pincer grip – struggling to complete tasks such as building blocks and even holding a pencil or attempting to write their name. Studies believe that this is due to the increasing popularity of touch screen products as explained in greater detail in our previous blog (Baby V Touch Screen). Touch screen devices are becoming more and more popular among very young children and this has a great effect on their fine motor skills as the only movements they are making is tapping and swiping. The development of finger and hand muscles is neglected.
It is vital that your baby develops this pincer grip as it is the grip that will allow them to be able to hold a pencil correctly, tie their laces, use cutlery, complete puzzles and so much more.
Most fine motor activities require children to move their hands and fingers in unfamiliar ways- the best place to start is with the pincer grip as it lays the foundation for further development such as the pencil grip and scissor grip etc. Baby’s first instinct is to grasp a pencil/most things with their entire fist- the pincer grip has to be actively taught. Even more so today with the popularity of tablets and smart phones.
There are many things that you can do to encourage the development of fine motor skills. One of the best things to do is to introduce finger foods such as peas, raisins or Cheerios. This makes feeding time more fun and encourages the development of the pincer grip as baby is trying to lift each piece individually. It will also make it easier for her to hold a spoon or fork when they are ready.Children also love building blocks and a top favourite is kitchen equipment- a few saucepans and a wooden spoon usually do the trick.
If you find that your baby is having difficulty you could try:
- Getting them to point at images in a book- copying your exaggerated movements
- Using their fingers to make holes in dough or play dough
- Getting them to paint on a vertical surface- a page on a wall perhaps- this will put the paint brush in the proper position (between the index finger and the thumb) and force your child into using the pincer grip.
Top Tip: Avoid giving your toddler one of the huge “jumbo” pencils often aimed at young children promising to help them learn how to write because they are actually much more difficult for them to hold and get their little fingers around as well as being much heavier. This will put your baby off learning- try using a golf pencil instead. 🙂
As with all developmental milestones, as we have mentioned before it is important to remember that all babies develop at their own pace. Although the average age to begin to develop this grip is 9 months many do not begin to show signs until after their first birthday so there is nothing to worry about.
Pincer grip means everything goes straight into the mouth so extra supervision is needed- this is when parenting gets fun 🙂 #GetAGrip