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Pincer Grasp – Development of Fine Motor Skills

Each time you hold a pen or button your shirt, you’re using the pincer grasp, which is a coordination of the index finger and thumb to hold an item. This comes second nature to most kiddos and may seem like second nature to an adult, but to a baby this is an important milestone in fine motor development! This function represents the coordination of brain and muscles that’s necessary to help kiddos gain increasing independence and further development of fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the foundation that will later allow your child to write and use a computer mouse. 

What to Know About Pincer Grasp

The pincer grip usually begins developing in babies just under a year old, but can vary slightly from child to child. When a kiddo uses the tips of their fingers to grasp small items or toys, this is utilizing a superior pincer grasp. If you’re noticing that your kiddo isn’t developing this milestone over time, caregivers may interpret this as a delayed development sign. Parents and caregivers can foster a child’s pincer grasp development through pediatric physical therapy and simple home activities.

Home Activities to Encourage Pincer Grasp

The most effective way to help your baby develop a pincer grasp is by presenting opportunities for practice. There are some useful activities and toys that can support the development of your kiddo’s fine motor skills and particularly their pincer grasp development. Simply moving their hands during age-appropriate play helps to increase the strength and dexterity of their thumb and index finger. Since much of their play at this age will consist of exploring their environment through their senses, there are some developmentally age appropriate toys and activities you can offer. 

Some great play items might include a small mirror for your kiddo to interact with their reflection while holding it. Simple activities like stacking rings, playing with puzzles, clapping games, or playing with push-n-pull toys can also help your child practice gross motor skills and increase their grip strength. Having them pickup small items like buttons or marbles and put them in a plastic cup works well as long as you can monitor them closely(choking hazard). Similarly, grapes, Cheerios and puffs are a great way to encourage babies to use the pincer grasp as well, but again monitor for choking hazards and avoid hard foods.

Pincer Grip Evaluation and Therapy

If your kiddo is older than 12 months and hasn’t shown signs of a pincer grasp yet, give Square Peg Therapies a call. We can evaluate their fine motor skills as well as discuss a timeline for such milestones given your child’s overall development. After an individual assessment for getting to know your child, we can determine which therapies will best meet their individual needs. Then we can begin the process of setting goals, planning activities, and creating a schedule that works best for you and your family. We want to meet each kiddo where they are, find the perfect fit and grow from there!