Before your baby’s hands open, the world happens mostly to or for her. In the coming months, as her hands open and she begins to use them, she will start to see the impact she can have on her own little world. She will first open her hands and begin to bat at objects. Eventually she will reach, grasp and mouth objects that interest her. Exciting stuff! All of that reaching, grasping and mouthing practice also builds hand-eye coordination.
Hands starting to open:
Somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 months, your baby’s hands will start to open up. If her hands are mostly in a fist, here are some ideas to help your baby open her hands:
- Stroke the back of her hands and see if she opens her fist
- Gently uncurl her fingers and thumb
- Rub or pat her hands together, or pat her hand on your hand
- Let her touch and pat your face
Before about 4 months, your baby’s fingers will reflexively wrap around an object when it is placed in her hand. The more often you engage your baby’s grasping reflex, the sooner she’ll be able to open and close her hands voluntarily. Here’s how you can help:
- Stroke the back of her hands to help her open them
- Place a ring inside her hands; she’ll reflexively wrap her fingers around it
- Help her keep grasping the ring by gently putting your hands over her fist
Reaching towards objects, not yet grasping:
Sometime between 2.5 and 4.5 months, your baby will start reaching towards an object without yet being able to grasp it. You can help by giving your baby lots of practice batting at the safe dangling objects in The Play Gym:
- Place her on her back with her chest in line with the dangling Batting Ring
- Babies around 1 to 3 months will start to wave their arms around when they see a toy
- See if her hands and arms accidentally make contact with the ring—move her arms if necessary to show her what happens
- The Batting Ring is especially helpful since it is the right height for accidental contact and makes a happy noise at the slightest touch
Grasping and mouthing:
Sometime around 4 to 5 months, your baby will start to reach for an object with both hands and grasp it for a moment or two. As soon as your baby is able to hold things, she’ll want to put them into her mouth.
Over the next year, she will practice with smaller and smaller objects to refine her grasp.