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