Strong Hands for Babies

Babies come into this world ready for actioneally! They cant move around all

that well and intentional movement is a long way off, but babies are hardwired with

movements, called reflexes. When a mother puts her finger on a newborns palm

the baby clenches the fist shut. Many proud parents crow that the baby is already

super strong! What they are actually witnessing is the Grasp Reflex.

Placing safe objects of varying sizes into an infants hand is a great way to start

activating those tiny muscles. Over time, the baby will begin to open and close the

hand on purpose.

Once your baby open and closes the hand with intent, the real fun begins. This is a

time when you can introduce new shapes and textures. Each time your baby holds

an object with a slightly different shape or size, the muscles work a little differently.

This helps strengthen the muscle fibers in many different ways.

Encourage your baby to open and close the hands throughout the day. When your

baby masters grasping and then letting go of toys, she will practice this all the time.

You might feel a little frustrated when each cheerio is carefully grasped on the tray

and then released to the floor. Mollify yourself by knowing that your baby is

working on mastering this very important skill!

When your baby has become a master of letting go, the fingers begin to move

separately. Initially all five fingers work as a single unit. You can help your baby

with this difficult part of fine motor development by encouraging pointing. You may

even gently move the pointer or index finger to a straight position while the other

fingers stay fisted. Pointing and poking can be incorporated in story time and

language games as well. As your babys fingers get stronger, you might even have

the baby help push buttons, like turning on the coffee maker in the morning.

Here are some games that help strengthen the hands:

Holding objects of different sizes and shapes

Feeling a variety of textures with open hands

Picking up and dropping toys such as blocks

Pointing at pictures in books

Pointing at Mommys or Daddys eyes, nose, etc.

Play Beep when your baby pushes your nose

Hand play games such as Open Shut Themive your hands a Clap!

Counting babys fingers-­‐holding each finger separately with each number

Poking and pushing buttons and objects (many toys have these features)

Opening plastic lids off empty containers

Crawling