Is your 3- to 6-month-old baby grabbing everything she can get her hands on? Your necklace? Your hair? Your earrings!? While this may be bad news for your ears, it's exciting news for your child! She is now developing enough dexterity and fine motor control to grab things that interest her.
Because your child is better able to hold things, it will be more important than ever to be aware of the objects she can get her hands on. Her curiosity will have her grabbing for everything, and as we all know, babies love to explore items with their mouths! So, you need to be especially aware of choking hazards.1
How can I help my baby improve dexterity and fine motor skills?
- Let your baby self-feed. Self-feeding is a great way for your baby to practice using her hands and fingers.2,3 Make sure to give her foods that are easy to chew and swallow, such as cereal o’s, green peas, and small pieces of sweet potato.
- Give her board and fabric books to play with. This will allow your baby to practice the fine motor skills needed to turn pages while introducing him to reading books.
- Sing and perform fingerplays. Doing fingerplays with your baby will encourage her to exercise the muscles in her arms, hands, and fingers.4 At first, you will need to help her move her fingers to the music but, with repetition she will learn how to do them on her own in no time.
- Provide new interesting toys. Show your baby how to play with a new toy and then place it just out of reach to encourage her to reach and grab it.
- Encourage your baby to fill and dump containers. Give her a plastic container and infant-safe toys to drop into it. Show her how to fill it up, and once it is full, help her dump it out. In the bathtub, she can use cups to pour water in the same way.
1 Cronan, K. M. (2012). CPR. Kids Health. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/cpr.html#.
2 Maryland State Department of Education (2010). Healthy Beginnings: Supporting Development and Learning from Birth through Three Years of Age. Retrieved on January 26, 2014, from http://www.marylandhealthybeginnings.org/.
3 Song, S. (2012). Skip the Strained Peas. Let Babies Feed Themselves. Time: Health & Family. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/10/skip-the-strained-peas-let-babies-feed-themselves/.
4 Nugent, K., & Morell, A. (2011). Your Baby is Speaking to You. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.