Newborns naturally hold their hands curled up into little fists, which is why they can grasp their hand around one of your fingers as soon as they’re born. Then, somewhere between two and four months, your baby will become aware of her hands and you’ll catch her staring at them inquisitively as if to say, ‘Wow, where did these things come from?!’
At around five months, she’ll start to loosen her grip enough that she can open her hands and – using her palm, fingers, and thumb (known as the ‘palmar grasp’) – hold on to a small toy. A month or so later, she should be able to reach out on her own and grab a toy.
Keep lots of easy-to-hold toys around, so she always has something to grasp: this will not only entertain her for hours on end, it’ll stimulate her mental development.
Around eight months, your baby will begin to refine how she picks up objects by using just her thumb and pointer finger. This is known as the ‘pincer grasp’ and she’ll get lots of practice refining this skill at mealtimes, when she begins picking up small pieces of food. Other fun ways to practise include playing with puzzles, and, as she gets older, picking up seashells on the beach. Later on, this fine motor skill will come in useful as your child learns to feed and dress herself. Now that would be handy!