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Ages & Stages

Hand and Finger Skills

Your baby’s mastery of crawling, standing, and walking are bound to be his most dramatic accomplishments during these months, but don’t overlook all the wonderful things he’s learning to do with his hands. At the beginning of this period, he’ll still clumsily “rake” things toward himself, but by the end, he’ll grasp accurately with his thumb and first or second finger. You’ll find him practicing this pincer movement on any small object, from dust balls to cereal, and he may even try to snap his fingers if you show him how.

As your baby learns to open his fingers at will, he’ll delight in dropping and throwing things. If you leave small toys on the tray of his high chair or in his playpen, he’ll fling them down and then call loudly for someone to retrieve them so he can do it again. If he throws hard objects such as blocks, he might do some damage and probably will increase the noise level in your household considerably. Your life will be a little calmer if you redirect him toward softer objects, such as balls of various sizes, colors, and textures. (Include some with beads or chimes inside so they make a sound as they roll.) One activity that not only is fun but allows you to observe your child’s developing skills is to sit on the floor and roll a large ball toward him. At first, he’ll slap randomly at it, but eventually he’ll learn to swat it so it rolls back in your direction.

With his improved coordination, your baby can now investigate the objects he encounters more thoroughly. He’ll pick them up, shake them, bang them, and pass them from hand to hand. He’ll be particularly intrigued by toys with moving parts—wheels that spin, levers that can be moved, hinges that open and close. Holes also are fascinating because he can poke his fingers in them and, when he becomes a little more skilled, drop things through them.

Blocks are another favorite toy at this age. In fact, nothing motivates a baby to crawl quite as much as a tower waiting to be toppled. Toward the end of this period, your child may even start to build towers of his own by stacking one block on top of another.

Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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