How to Use Your Newborn’s Grasp Reflex to Build Fine Motor Skills

From birth, your newborn will begin to develop her fine motor skills by using the small muscles in her hand. While she won’t have much control or direction to her small muscle movements at first, you’ll soon see her experiment with opening and closing her hands, bringing her hands to her mouth for comfort and batting at interesting objects to explore.

To help your 0 to 3-month old strengthen her fine motor skills, take advantage of the involuntary Palmar Grasp Reflex. Lay your baby on her back on a soft padded surface and place one of your fingers in the palm of her hand and watch her automatically wrap her fingers around yours. Once your baby has a firm grip of your finger, gently pull her grasp towards you to help strengthen the muscles in her hand. As she develops stronger hand muscles, offer her two opposing fingers to grasp in each hand. You’ll be surprised to see how strong her grip can be when you pull her towards you and watch her lift up as she holds on!

Not only will this exercise help build her small muscle strength, but it will also help her develop her “grasp” and eventual “release” skills. By 3-6 months old, your newborn will graduate from using this involuntary hand-grasp reflex to purposefully reaching for, grasping, releasing, and holding objects and toys.

Yvette Hwee

Yvette Hwee

Yvette Hwee is the mother of two little girls and the Founder of Playful Bee, an online developmental learning program that provides parents with customized play-based activities to make it easier to track and support their child's development.
Yvette Hwee