Grasping is one of the important basic skills that a child needs to develop in order to be self reliant in future. It enables the child to eat, read, write, play, draw etc. Unlike the other skills, grasping is something that is innate in a child right from the time they are born. What is important is developing a sense of co-ordination between picking things and grasping them.
Tracking the developmental milestones:
The grasping reflex- children are normally born with a grasping reflex. In the first 8 weeks, one can detect such reflexes such as curling up of the tiny fingers if one touches the baby’s palm. But such movements are usually involuntary and the baby’s fists will mostly be clenched during this time.
The hand-eye co-ordination- when the baby is about 12 weeks old, there is a marked appearance of a hand-eye co-ordination. The baby at this point learns to notice things around and reach out for something they want to touch. The child also learns to swipe at different things.Moving objects around- by the time the child reaches 4 to 8 months they will be able to grab objects and move them from one hand to other. During this time the child tries to get hold of objects and move them towards themselves. But due to lack of dexterity in the child’s fingers they are not able to grab small objects well. During this time the child also develops the habit of grabbing things and putting them into their mouths. Hence parents should take care to remove small objects that the child could choke upon.
Picking up objects- by the time the baby is one year old, they’ll be able to grasp and pick objects up. They also master the “pincer grasp” which enables them to pick up smaller objects. During this time the child may be pretty much able to hold a spoon during meal time. This is the time when their co-ordination will have increased manifold.
Hurling objects- once the child masters the art of grasping and picking objects, hurling comes off as a natural development. After one year, the child will develop a tendency of picking and hurling their toys, smacking them together and banging them. It is important to keep valuables away from the child during this time.
Mastereds co-ordination- by the time the child is 2 years old, they will be able to hold crayons and pencils and use them on paper. By the time they are 3 years old, their grasp will be coordinated enough to jot down words.
Parents can try to strengthen the grasping ability in the child by giving them lots of soft objects to grasp. They can also keep colorful objects slightly out of the child’s reach in order to encourage the grasping reflex in them. In case the baby doesn’t show tendencies of reaching out to things or grasping them by 2 months of age, it is necessary to consult the doctor.