by SARA AHMAD
Lets babies jump into the world of play by learning how to hold things
Being able to grasp things is also the first step on the road to eating, reading, writing, drawing, and self-care. Newborns have an innate ability to grasp objects, but it takes them at least a year to develop the co-ordination to pick up and hold things securely in their hands. They start working intensively at this skill at three months and make leaps with each passing month.
How It Develops
Babies are born with the grasping reflex. Touch your child's palm, and she'll curl her tiny fingers around yours. But these movements are instinctive and involuntary for the first eight weeks. Your baby's hands will mostly be clenched in a fist during this stage, but she'll soon begin to open and close them on purpose and to examine them. She may even try to grasp soft objects such as a stuffed animal or the edges of her towel, bib or blanket.
At four months, she can pick up large objects such as blocks, though she still won't be able to grab smaller objects such as beads until she develops better finger dexterity. Shortly before she gets her first tooth (usually between three and 12 months), your baby will start picking up items here and there so she can put them in her mouth. You will have to be watchful and ensure small objects such as coins, marbles, pebbles, beads, food crumbs, rings and jewellery are out of your baby's reach. If she's eating solids, she won't be able to hold a baby spoon steadily, but she'll try. She can rake an object toward herself, and will start moving objects from one hand to the other. It's a good idea to keep valuables, sharp and fragile objects and medicines out of her reach from now on and to start childproofing your home.
At nine months, give your baby stacking blocks or a linking chain. She may even hold up a toy and show her triumph. She may even be able to press the buttons on the toys such as a small keyboard or a musical push toy.
What Comes Next
Once your baby perfects grasping, throwing isn't far behind, so watch out. Many babies enjoy hurling their toys and having you pick them up. They begin to understand cause and effect and the results of simple actions. They may drop objects just to watch you pick them up, or may throw something to see where it lands.
By the time she's a year old, she'll enjoy playing ball, stacking towers, and banging things together. By the time she's two, her artistic side will come out, and she'll be fascinated with crayons and how to use them to draw, scribble, colour, and write. At three years old, she'll be co-ordinated enough to attempt to jot down letters and maybe her name.
To stimulate your baby's grasping reflex, try putting a toy or colourful object slightly out of her reach and encourage her to grab it. But don't put it so far away that she can't get it, or she'll get frustrated. Give her a plentiful supply of objects she can easily grasp, too, such as soft blocks, plastic rings, and board books.
Later, when she's working on her pincer grasp, encourage her to pick up finger foods such as peas and carrots – she'll use her spoon or fork when she's ready. The pincer grasp is an important developmental milestone. It will lay the foundation of future activities such as colouring, writing and eating.
You can also strengthen and soothe her muscles by giving regular massages with the oil of your choice such as olive, mustard, almond, coconut or pure ghee.
When To Be Concerned
If your child doesn't seem interested in any toy you put in front of her by eight weeks and doesn't attempt to touch or pick up toys by nine months, discuss your concerns with her doctor. Premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than their peers – check with your doctor about a reasonable time frame.