Have you noticed how grabby your baby has become now that she’s 3-6 month old? It’s all perfectly normal! At this age, her curiosity has grown drastically thanks to her improved vision and mobility. As a result, she will increasingly want to study every new and interesting object by using her senses of touch and sight. This curiosity will help lead to the development of hand-eye coordination, which is the ability to use visual cues to perform actions with your hands.1
At around 4 months, your baby will start doing different activities that make use of her hand-eye coordination. Rather than grabbing objects just to hold them, she’ll begin to study them with her eyes … and mouth!2 She will also participate in repetitive movements, such as poking, shaking toys, passing objects from one hand to the other, and banging objects on surfaces or two objects together.3 By 6 months old, your baby’s coordination will have developed enough for her to start feeding herself finger foods.4 So watch out for her busy hands because they’re on a mission that you want to support.
Helping your baby develop her hand-eye coordination skills will also support the development of other abilities and improve her senses, too, so now is the best time to start!
How can you help your baby improve her Hand-Eye Coordination skills?
- Demonstrate skills. Studies show that children better develop hand-eye coordination skills by watching their parents complete tasks.5 Be sure to let her watch your hands as you complete tasks, such as eating, turning door handles, cleaning, etc.6 Eventually, she will start to mimic your actions.
- Let her explore freely. As long as it is safe to do so, let your child explore any object of interest that she sees. Show her how they are used and encourage her to grab and study them using her different senses.
- Provide a variety of novel toys to play with.2 Be sure to regularly switch out her toys with new items to build her curiosity. Lightweight noisemakers and brightly colored toys are especially good at capturing a baby’s attention.
- Help her exercise. To develop her hand-eye coordination skills, she needs to have enough strength to control her arms, hands, and fingers. Make sure she participates in tummy time, encourage her to practice finger grasping, and help her manipulate objects, such as letting her turn the pages of board books when you read to her.
And, you can always make bath time “movement time” with your Otteroo! She’ll discover how certain movements will make her go a certain direction in the water, a great prelude to understanding cause and effect AND practicing hand eye coordination.
1 North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Eye Hand Coordination. North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Retrieved on March 3, 2014, from http://nspt4kids.com/health-topics-conditions/eye-hand-coordination/.
2 Connecticut Department of Social Services. Connecticut’s Guidelines for the Development of Infant and Toddler Early Learning. Retrieved on March 3, 2014, from http://www.ct.gov/dss/lib/dss/dss_early_learning_guidelines.pdf.
3 Bushnell, E. E.. & Boudreau, J. P. (1993). Motor Development and the Mind: The Potential Role of Motor Abilities as a Determinant of Aspects of Perceptual Development. Child Development, 64(4), 1005.
4 Laberge, M. Hand-Eye Coordination. Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. Retrieved on March 3, 2014, from http://www.healthofchildren.com/G-H/Hand-Eye-Coordination.html.
5 Bergland, C. (2013). Hand-Eye Coordination Improves Cognitive and Social Skills. Psychology Today: The Athlete’s Way. Retrieved on March 3, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/hand-eye-coordination-improves-cognitive-and-social-skills.
6 Yu, C. & Smith, L. B. (2013). Joint Attention Without Gaze Following: Human Infants and the Parents Coordinate Visual Attention to Objects through Eye-Hand Coordination. PLoS ONE 8(11). Retrieved on March 16, 2014, from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0079659.